Oatmeal makes a nutritious, hearty breakfast, but the benefits are even greater if you use steel-cut oats. Steel-cut oats are cut from the stalk of the oat grain and resemble small pebbles or kernels. Unlike rolled oats, they aren't processed at all, so no nutrients or flavor are lost through processing. The disadvantage of steel-cut oats is they take longer to cook, but for an easy, healthy breakfast, you can prepare the oats in a crock pot the night before and let them cook all night until they're ready in the morning.
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Spray the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray.
Combine the water, oats, milk and dried fruit in the slow cooker. Mix to make sure the oats are immersed in the water and not floating on top. Add any dried fruit you'd like to jazz up your oatmeal, or none at all, if you like it plain. You could also add a fresh chopped apple or peach. Add spices and sweeteners to flavor your oatmeal if desired. Try adding 2 tbsp. of honey or brown sugar, or 1 tbsp. of cinnamon and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg to the mix.
Turn the crock pot to "low," cover and cook for eight to nine hours overnight, until the oatmeal is tender and creamy. Stir once, and ladle into serving bowls. If you prefer to use fresh fruit as a topping for your oatmeal, add it now. Slice strawberries or peaches, or pile fresh berries on top of your oatmeal before serving.