I would say 5 or 6 days out of the week, my breakfast consists of yogurt, fruit, and oats. I haven’t gotten tired of it yet, due largely, I suspect, to the variety of possibilities within that prescription. By changing up your cooking techniques, or even that fact that it’s cooked at all, and the types of fruit, you can make a whole new dish! (Nudge: this is true for other dishes as well (surprise surprise)).
Oats are super healthy, whole grains full of good fiber and antioxidants and all that. They’re also a fairly hardy crop, and are able to grow in places like… Maine! You can get them from Fiddlers Green, Maine Grains, Grandy Oats… sometimes even at your farmers’ market. I like them because of the texture and slight nutty flavor (which, again, depends on how you cook them). United with the sweetness of fruit and tangy creaminess of yogurt, it’s a perfect combo.
I’ll tell you about making yogurt sometime soon—it’s very easy, although does always tend to take a little more time than I want it to (hands-off time, but still). Or, if you want to get a jump start, look here.
By the way, if you’d like further advice on eating locally in Maine, here’s a piece on MOFGA’s site with some good resources.
I seem to like sharing info about tech changes in ag, and some of it is a little dubious, although also exciting (I’m conflicted about judicious use of technology, can you tell?), but here’s an article about some pretty great tech advances—mostly for helping reduce food waste. We do seem to place an emphasis on learning technology in schools, but we need to make sure to include ecology (through, say, school gardens) as well, to provide balance.
Oh, and don’t forget about the importance of politics (a reminder from our articulate Mark Bittman).
Now, back to breakfast. In order of ease (more or less. All are very easy): 1. Muesli 2. Oatmeal 3. Granola 4. Oat cakes 5. Smoothie.
Mix together raw rolled oats, berries (I suggest strawberries if they are in season (admittedly those pictured are not), or thawed blueberries), and yogurt. Let sit while you make tea, get dressed, prep lunch, etc. (you can also mix it up the night before, if you like it really melded together). Eat!
There are a bunch of method of making oatmeal. Pick your favorite. Mine is boiling water (which I do for tea anyway), and pouring it over a bowl with dried oats, prunes (also not local. Oh, well), cinnamon, and a little salt (it makes a difference, trust me). Cover with a plate to keep in the heat and let sit while you get dressed, prep lunch, etc. When you’re ready, uncover, cut up some of the prunes with your spoon, and stick it in the microwave for thirty-or-so seconds, just to heat it up again and get rid of any excess water. Stir, mix in some sweetener if you like (maple syrup!), and eat. Yogurt can be enjoyed on the side or mixed in, after the oatmeal cools a bit (yogurt and heat aren’t real friends).
3. Granola (pictured at the beginning)
Make granola the night before, a big batch on the weekend, or the morning of if you don’t have time for any of that. Preheat oven to 350ºF or so (flexible). Melt a little butter in a large, rimmed pan or baking sheet with a large bit of honey (maybe 1/3 cup to every 2 cups of oats, depending on your sweet tooth)—I usually just put it in the pan in the oven to melt, although then you’ll have to be careful mixing it all around. Vegetable oil instead of butter is okay too, and you can do it in a separate pan if you prefer. Add a bunch of rolled oats, some cinnamon and other spices if you like (allspice, ginger), salt, and mix around. Add nuts, unless you have already toasted nuts (almonds or pecans are my preferred additions) and dried fruit, if you like. Stir around until the butter, honey, and spices are reasonably well distributed (if you have slivered almonds or other smaller pieces of nuts, add them later or they will burn before the oats get toasty). Put in the oven for 15 or so minutes, stirring every once in a while to make sure all sides get toasty. The oats should become nice and golden. Remove and let cool. Can be stored in an airtight container for a while.
When ready for breakfast, mix granola, fruit, and yogurt. Eat.
4. Oat cakes
This was a bit of an experiment, and I was rather pleased! I often add oats to my pancakes, but haven’t really made purely oat-cakes until now. Mix an egg, a bunch of oats, and a little milk or water (and some salt). Let sit for a while while the oats absorb the liquid. You should be able to form it into patties; heat up a pan with butter, and do so. Cook at medium temperature until cooked through and golden on each side (flipping halfway). Top with fruit, yogurt, and maple syrup.
More in the fruit-and-yogurt realm than also with oats, but turns out you can also add oats to your smoothie if you are thus inclined! In a blender (or a mixing cup with an immersion blender!), mix berries (or other fruit, like frozen mangos or peaches, peeled), a banana, and a couple large scoops of yogurt. Add a little extra yogurt whey, some tea, or whatever other liquid you have lying around (juice works fine. I just don’t have it around ever, and it can add too much sweetness). Add oats too, if you like. Blend until smooth, taste, add more yogurt/berries/sweetener and blend again, and enjoy (sipping, or with a spoon. Or both).
That’s a start! If you want to get fancier with your oats, fruit, and yogurt, make crisp (fruit and a sugar syrup, or just mixed with a little sugar and sometimes flour, then topped with oats mixed with flour, melted butter and spices; cook until golden), oatmeal pancakes, or even oatmeal apple cake. The possibilities here are only just beginning…