Slow-Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal / by Chelsea Zwieg

I've been told that I look young for my age. Not just once, but on many an embarrassing occasion. Like when I got carded for buying NyQuil. Or when I worked at Starbucks and a customer asked me if I was really old enough to work there. Or when I tried to buy a bottle of wine and and the cashier told me that I was "cursed with a baby face".  Just a few shining moments out of a life spent looking like I'm 15 years old. But I think it's all about to change. Because, ladies and gentlemen, I found a gray hair. 

And this wasn't the thin, wispy soft kind of gray hair I was hoping for. The kind that will lead me gracefully into old age with flowing, natural Helen Mirren quality hair. Nope, this was the wiry, shiny sliver kind letting me know that my head will look something more like a steel wool scour pad, than actual hair. And on that day, I will remind anyone and everyone who will listen that I was at one point not believed to be of NyQuil buying age. 

The funniest part about being constantly mistaken for a pre-teen is that, apart from my baby face, every thing else about me is full on grandma. My 8:00 bedtime, my inability to figure out Twitter, my love of oatmeal. 15 year old +1 gray hair on the outside, 85 on the inside. It all works out.  

 

I've talked about oatmeal before, in the baked form, and haven't touched on it since. Mostly because I am not sure that everyone finds oatmeal as appealing as I do. I really, really love it, guys. But in general, my oatmeal routine tends to be pretty un-blog-worthy. Boil water, add oats, stir in some almond butter. Top with maple syrup. Consume alongside 5 cups of coffee. 

That is, until I caught wind of the possibility of making it in a slow cooker. You better believe I went out and bought oats the next day and had that business mixed and cooking away by bedtime. The magic of making slow cooker oatmeal (besides the fact that all the cooking time requires of you is to sleep for 8 hours) is that it transforms steel cut oats into what is possibly the best oatmeal I have ever had. Steel cut oats typically take longer to cook, about 30 minutes, so I tend to stay away from them in my normal oatmeal routine. A big part of oatmeal's appeal is that I can want it and then be eating it 5 minutes later. However, steel cut oats have a unique texture that can't be found in regular oatmeal. They're nutty, chewy and retain their structure, even after a long cooking time, instead of going towards the overly-mushy side like most oats. After 8 hours in the slow cooker they transform into the most creamy, comforting, cinnamon spiced breakfast you can imagine. I also added fresh apples and dried dates which all cook down into an almost jam-like consistency.

It's basically apple pie wearing it's healthy breakfast disguise, which will keep me and my gray hairs happy for a long time to come. 

 

 

Slow-Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Adapted from The Kitchn

Serves 4 

Note: As if I didn't sing the steel cut oat praises long enough, they also reheat much better than regular oats. None of that mushy business. Which means, even if you are one person, I would recommend making this whole batch. It keeps in the fridge for a week and can easily be reheated with a splash of water or milk. 

| Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened or unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1 apple, diced (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried dates (or any dried fruit. Raisins or dried cherries would be great.)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (if you did not use vanilla almond milk)
  • For topping: chopped apples, nuts, dates, almond butter, maple syrup, more brown sugar. (You really can't go wrong in the toppings department)

| Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set to low and cook 8-10 hours. If you have a chance to stir it halfway through, go ahead. But if not, it will be totally fine. 
  • Serve with any toppings you choose. Store leftover oatmeal in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat with a splash of water or milk.
  • That's it! 2 bullet points of instructions seemed so lame, so I thought I'd add a third. Nope, it still seems lame.