Steel Cut Oatmeal with Hemp Seeds and Dried Cranberries

By Sally Cameron on April 02, 2013

breakfast, gluten-free, the daniel plan, vegan, vegetarian,


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. But being used to a high protein smoothie, how could oatmeal do the job? Here’s how.

High-Protein Breakfast

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 growing 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 seed 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 seed, 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.

Ingredient Notes

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.

Helpful Links:

More information on the nutritional power of hemp seed


Steel Cut Oatmeal with Hemp Seeds and Dried Cranberries

This high-protein breakfast can be ready in minutes in the morning if you cook your oats the night ahead and refrigerate. In the morning, heat up a portion, then add hemp seeds and other garnishes for a fantastic breakfast. Cooked steel cut oats will last in the refrigerator 4-5 days. Cook them Sunday and enjoy through the week.


  • Steel cut oats
  • 1 cup organic steel cut oats 176 grams
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Additions Per Serving
  • 1 1/2 – 3 tablespoons organic hemp seeds 15 – 30 grams
  • Almond milk or other milk, however much you prefer
  • Options customize to your heart’s desire
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • small handful of fresh berries
  • A drizzle of honey
  • a small sprinkle of raw coconut sugar
  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • a sprinkle of chopped walnuts
  • a sprinkle of raw toasted coconut
  • A little coconut butter


  1. Cook steel cuts oats according to package directions, either on the stove top in a pan or in a slow cooker (overnight). If you cook them on the stove top, cool within 1-2 hours and refrigerate covered.
  2. In the morning, place cooked oats in a small bowl, cover and microwave until hot or heat oats in a small pot over low heat, covered, with milk, stirring occasionally so they do not stick and burn. Place in bowls, add hemp seeds and any options. Serve warm.


Leave a Comment
Mary | April 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Sally, you always manage to make healthy eating so inviting. I’ve never eaten Hemp Seeds but I can imagine that oatmeal is the perfect way in which to try it.

    Sally | April 4, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Mary, they are so good and so healthy! They are lots of things you can add them to for a great source of plant-based protein. I want to develop an oatmeal cookie with hemp seeds. That’s on my list! Try them!

Marie | November 21, 2016 at 11:45 am

I have what I call a “gourmet” oatmeal that I make fresh every AM: oats (1/2 c) , salt (to taste), cinnamon (generous), Thompson (dark) raisins (handful), water (1 c), cooked on stovetop in small pot. While cooking, I place: hemp hearts (2 rounded tablespoons), ground flax (1 tablespoon), peanut butter (1 very rounded tablespoon), dark maple syrup (to taste) in my bowl. Once cooked add oats to bowl mix and add milk…enjoy! Very hearty!

    Sally Cameron | November 21, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Hi Marie. sounds delicious, warming and healthy. O do something similar but I use cashew butter or almond butter, and coconut butter is good too. Add some unsweetened coconut flakes. I also love cinnamon and flaxseed in my smoothies. So good for us! Sound like we like the same stuff ‘). Thanks for commenting, It might inspire others to kick their oatmeal up a notch.

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