Warm up with the easiest steel cut oats ever! The slow cooker or instant pot does all the work, and you get to enjoy a warm and cozy, super wholesome breakfast.
Do you ever feel like there is so much to do in the morning that eating a healthy breakfast is a challenge? That happens to me all the time. With packing kids’ school lunches, wrangling dogs, and finding missing shoes (why is there always a missing shoe?!) breakfast sometimes takes a backseat for me. I usually make up for it with a big green protein smoothie mid-morning, but when the weather is cold we start feeling like warm and cozy meals in place of some of those smoothies. Enter easy steel cut oats, cooked in the slow cooker or instant pot. This recipe is my current go-to breakfast.
On a recent Whole Foods trip, my littlest daughter wanted to try a package of instant apple cinnamon oatmeal. The kind you just have to add hot water to and a minute later it’s ready. I let her try it, but she wasn’t a fan, luckily, because it did have added sugar and who knows what else in it. While the instant oatmeal is crazy easy, making steel cut oats from scratch doesn’t take much more effort. I wanted to show you two easy ways to cook steel cut oats – fast, in the instant pot, and slow, in the slow cooker.
What the heck are steel cut oats?
Also known as Irish or Scottish oats, steel cut oats are less processed than other varieties. Steel cut oats are processed simply by chopping the groats (the whole oat grain), whereas rolled oats are, well, rolled, flattened, and steamed. Quick oats go a step further and are pre-cooked, rolled, and pressed even thinner than rolled oats. Steel cut oats in my opinion taste so much better than quicker cooking varieties. Unlike quick cooking oats that easily turn to mush, steel cut oats retain a bit of a nice chewy bite. The only downside to steel cut oats is that they take much longer to cook. Is this really a problem? Heck no! Just pop those oats in the instant pot or slow cooker and forget about it. I usually use steel cut oats from Bob’s Red Mill, which are certified gluten-free.
Are steel cut oats healthier than rolled oats?
Well, maybe a little. According to Prevention, steel cut oats have about the same nutritional makeup as rolled oats. They do have a slightly lower glycemic index, which means a lower blood sugar spike. Least processed is almost always my preference, and that steel cut oats are. Certainly cooking oatmeal from scratch is healthier than flavored instant oatmeal. Here we can control any added ingredients.
Cooking steel cut oats in the slow cooker is a great option because you get to wake up to a warm breakfast. However, I’m partial to the Instant Pot pressure cooker method. Steel cut oats in the slow cooker end up softer, because they absorb more water after cooking overnight. In the pressure cooker though, they turn into my perfect porridge. A third option would be to cook the oats in the slow cooker for a shorter time, refrigerate or freeze, and reheat later. As you may remember from last week, I am absolutely loving my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
A steamy bowl of steel cut oats are great canvas for delicious and nutritious toppings. I usually sweeten mine with a few drops of liquid stevia and add a splash of almond milk. My favorite toppings include: sliced banana, berries, almond butter, hemp, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds. I’ve been adding more pumpkin seeds into my diet lately as they are a good source of protein and minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc. While I’m sharing the basic method for cooking steel cut oats in the slow cooker or pressure cooker, there are loads of variations. One of my favorites is to add sliced apples and a cinnamon stick to the pot before turning it on.
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