Spring might be here on the calendar but mornings are still chilly. Instead of my frozen fruit and protein smoothie, I was craving something warm to start my day. The solution? Steel cut oats with dried cranberries. But being used to a high protein smoothie, how could oatmeal do the job? Here’s how.
Steel Cut Oats with Dried Cranberries and Hemp Seeds
You need protein at breakfast to get your day off to a roll. Steel cut oats have 7 grams of protein per dry ¼ cup (44 grams) serving, so the oats alone are a good start for a high protein breakfast. Add 1½ tablespoons (15 grams) of hemp seeds, and that adds 5 grams of protein. For even more protein, double the hemp seeds. Gain a bit more with the almond milk, and you have a healthy, high-protein breakfast that comes from whole grain and plant-based sources.
Hemp Seeds: Complete Plant-Based Protein
Grown for thousands of years, hemp seeds are known as one of nature’s most perfect foods. Like many other seeds that we eat like grains (think of quinoa), hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Hemp seeds provide complete protein, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids as well as magnesium, iron and zinc. Another benefit, hemp seeds supply an ideal balance of omega-3 and omegs-6 fatty acids.
Cooking Steel Cut Oats: Safe and Not Safe
I’ve tried a few ways of cooking steel cut oats. One technique I found was on TheKitchn. They suggested cooking them the night before and allowing them to stand all night on the stove. While it works (I tested it out of curiosity), I have concerns about it from a food safety standpoint. If you choose to cook your oats this ways, beware of the risks. Oats are a grain and a grain turns to sugar and that can ferment. Allowing the pan to stand all night on the stove, unrefrigerated, risks pathogens (like mold) could grow in your oatmeal. Not what you want for breakfast.
The safest ways to cook steel cut oats is to cook them according to package directions, slowly until they are creamy, then cool and refrigerate. Most packages have directions for cooking steel cut oats in a slow cooker as well. This method is safe because a slow-cooker maintains a constant, safe temperature. If you want to cook them overnight, this is the best option.
Cooked oats will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator, covered. If you want a single bowl of oats, portion them into a small bowl, add your milk of choice, cover and microwave until warm or warm in a small pan over low heat, covered with a lid.
Breakfast is Ready
In the morning scoop a portion of oats into a small bowl. Add a little milk of your choice, homemade almond, coconut, dairy, rice, etc. cover and microwave at 70% power for a minute or two and test for heat. Stir and continue as needed. You can also place oats and milk in a small saucepan and heat over low temperature, covered, until hot. Stir occasionally so they don’t stick or burn.
To your heated oats add the hemp seeds and a few dried cranberries. You can add a sprinkle of nuts, a drizzle of honey or raw coconut sugar, a bit of toasted coconut or fresh berries. Be sure to add the hemp seeds, because it pumps up the protein and adds nice texture and flavor.
1 cup of dry steel cut oats (176 grams) is enough for 4 servings. Cook oats in just the water. Unlike rolled oats, steel-cut oats get creamier when re-heated. They don’t turn into wall paper paste. A healthy, high-protein breakfast is within reach even on time-crunched mornings.
Steel cut oats: I buy Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel Cut Oats in the blue label bag. Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but because these are packaged in a facility that also handles wheat, they cannot be labeled as gluten-free. If you are sensitive to gluten, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free steel cut oats.
Shelled hemp seeds: For the hemp seeds, I purchase Navitas Naturals which are available at health-oriented markets as well as online. Navitas Naturals brand is certified organic, raw and gluten-free. Bob’s Red Mill also offers hulled hemp seeds, but they are not certified gluten-free or organic. Choose what is best for you.