By Stepfanie Romine, co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"
In the middle of winter, when the mercury's dropping and the snow is piling up outside, is there anything more comforting than a bowl of oatmeal? Plain old oatmeal becomes a tedious breakfast rather quickly, but the fancy flavored versions are pricey and full of artificial flavors.
Thankfully, making your own gourmet oatmeal is easy. Flavored oatmeal makes a great gift for the busy professional, a time-strapped mom or anyone who says there's no time for a healthy breakfast.
Stepfanie's Oatmeal Mix
6 cups old-fashioned or steel-cut oats
3/4 c ground flax seeds
3 T cinnamon
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Mix all ingredients together. Makes 12 servings (about 3/4 cup each)
Store in the refrigerator as flax seeds and walnuts can spoil quickly.
Number of Servings: 12
Total Fat: 15.3 g* (This is mostly heart-healthy fats from the walnuts and flaxseed, both of which contain Omega-3 fatty acids.)
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1.2 mg
Total Carbs: 44.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 8.8 g
Protein: 8.9 g
Divide the oatmeal into single servings (1 cup food storage containers work great for this) or deliver the gift in a decorative cookie jar. Personalize this as you'd like. Swap almonds, pumpkin seeds or pecans for the walnuts; use raisins, dried pineapple or some apple rings instead of cranberries. If you prefer sweetened oatmeal: Add cocoa powder and a bit of sugar, toss in some brown sugar or give a bottle of real maple syrup to supplement the gift. You can also use barley, cracked wheat, wheat germ or oat bran.
Bonus: Buy the materials for this oatmeal from the bulk bins at the grocery store to save more money.
How do you top your oatmeal?
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SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is a certified yoga teacher and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegan and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.