An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Make it three! With an influx of apples in our refrigerator, I’ve been trying to find creative ways to empty out our fruit drawer. Apples are perhaps the most versatile fruit to bake and cook with, which ended up working in my favor. My favorite way to incorporate apples is in my breakfast, and there’s no better way to do so than oatmeal!
Oatmeal itself has been a family favorite for my entire life. Often, on weekend mornings, I awaken to a warm bowl of oatmeal on the stove. I’ve experimented with different kinds — packaged microwaved oats, 5-minute oats, old-fashioned oats, Irish steel cut oatmeal, and everything in between. My toppings have ranged from raisins to bananas to even honey, which I certainly recommend.
During the pandemic, with the instability in our lives, oatmeal has become an especially constant source of comfort. It’s a nutritious, filling, and energizing breakfast that’s easy to eat, warm to taste, and goes with about anything. Before an early morning workout or online exam, when life felt entirely different from before, I would find myself preparing a quick bowl of oatmeal and I couldn’t help but smile. At least some things had remained the same.
Thankfully, it’s an easy food to experiment with. Curious about my apples, I wondered how they would taste within the oats as opposed to a topping. Of course, I gave it a try and it’s now a family favorite!
“An Apple a Day” Oatmeal
To start off, you’ll need some sort of liquid (it’s up to you — I find that milk creates a more filling, dense taste while water creates a less flavorful, lighter oatmeal), oats (in my case, old-fashioned), 2-3 apples (the more the better!), and some spices for added flavor.
Now it’s time to add in your ingredients! While it’s often traditional to boil the water before adding the oats, in this case, everything is included in the beginning.
It’s time for the best part — the apples! Since we had Fuji in our fridge, I decided to use those, though any apples would be perfect — green apples for a tarter, pie-liked taste, Fuji apples for a crisp taste, and red apples for a sweeter oatmeal. You can use two to three, though I always use three. Cut into small pieces and place in the food processor until finely chopped. There can be a few big pieces, though in general, smaller pieces contribute to the rich apple flavor. Add the apples to the oatmeal and let the liquid boil, watching and occasionally stirring the oatmeal.
At this point, I like to add a little bit of milk, which contributes to the rich flavor of the oatmeal (I usually prefer to use 3 cups of water and ¾ cup of milk). Oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, or any milk substitute is perfect as well (use oat milk for double the oatmeal!). A little salt to taste can be added at any time (at the beginning to boil the water more quickly).
The best part about this recipe is that it allows for creative liberties. At this point, you can add in vanilla extract (1 teaspoon), flaxseed, or additions of any ingredients. For a final garnish, chop some pecans, walnuts, or any nuts to add to the top of your oatmeal. This will be a perfect crunchy addition — for a single serving, just do a few. Some other potential toppings include raisins for double the fruit, additional apples, maple syrup, or brown sugar for sweetening. You can also add some butter, which accentuates the richness of the flavor.
Once your oatmeal is mushy and your oats and apples are soft, as well as thick in texture, your oatmeal is finished! Serve hot, heated up, or even cold. It’s a filling and healthy meal to warm your chilliest mornings.
2 cups rolled oats
3 cups water
¾ cup milk
2-3 diced apples cut small (depending on size)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, adjust to taste
1 teaspoon butter
Optional: chopped pecans for topping
- Combine the water, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and diced apples in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for just a few minutes, adding in milk, salt, and stirring occasionally until the texture is thick and the oats are soft. Remove from the heat and add brown sugar to taste (depends on your sweet preference — it’s still delicious without and depends on the sweetness of the apples).
3. Scoop into serving bowls and top with pecans and butter if desired. Enjoy your “Apple a Day” oatmeal!