Ok first off, I know the picture above does not match my ‘thick and creamy’ description well, but I swear it’s the case underneath that thin blanket of granola. Looks, my friend, are all too deceiving.
When I was younger, my mum would make oatmeal at least twice a week. She chopped up some bananas and plopped them on top, and the whole bowl was lovingly drizzled with honey. I love my mother very much, but sometimes the mush , what I typically called it, just wasn’t endearing enough. I tolerated the placid, pale blobs, stuck in this one-dimensional oatmeal paradigm of mush and banana and milk. That was all to it, right? There was one point in my life when I just stopped making the stuff altogether. But over the years I’ve learnt a myriad tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your oatmeal. I remember first starting out, all gleeful with my little bowl of instant mix and water. Goodness, have I grown. Oh, the oat experiments I undertook. From the overnight health indulgences to lavish peanut butter and jelly variations, topped with banana, granola and more honey. You know, just for the heck of it. Now, I make it practically every morning, if those french toast and egg cravings are slightly subdued.
Nourishing, almost spiritually fulfilling. So easily, ridiculously adaptable. You can do anything with these bowls of utter heaven. I bathe my mornings in sacred rituals of sorts, with English Breakfast tea and hardy toast, sourdough if possible, but sometimes, all I need is a big bowl of Thick and Creamy for happiness to ensue. Equipped with the right ingredients and just 10 minutes hovering over the stove, I doubt any of you will look back. Honest to God. The texture this recipe yields is divine, almost pudding-like, so the reduced liquid is thicker than what you would get if you just plopped the bowl into the microwave for a few minutes (and no, the microwave never yields quite the same desirable consistency). I can’t love the stuff enough.
Thick and Creamy Oatmeal (serves 1)
1/3 heaping cup (around 40g) of rolled oats– I use Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats
one cup (240ml) almond milk/ any milk of your choice, or just half that amount, with half a cup of water. Have some extra milk on hand.
half a mashed banana (preferably ripe; this is the key ingredient! It acts as a natural sweetener and adds to the whole wholesome effect of divinity in a bowl)
*optional: one egg white and/or a heaped teaspoon of chia seeds
Desirable toppings: Peanut butter, almond butter, cold whole milk or heavy cream, the rest of that poor banana, chopped apple/ blueberries/ whatever fruit you like, really.
Sweeteners: Maple syrup, thick honey (I typically use either manuka or this lovely truffle one from our trip to Rome last year), agave syrup (though I find that its flavour doesn’t quite live up to the other two), crumbly brown sugar
Grab a small saucepan and dump in your rolled oats, milk and water mixture, and mashed banana. Turn the heat to medium-high and let it come to a rolling boil. This takes a few minutes on my stove, so during this time, I go make a cup of tea and ready the papers or something. Prepare your toppings. Cool, relaxed, oat-minded. Once it has come to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Take a wooden spoon or just your normal metal spoon and start stirring. Stir it every once in a while, and you will see the mixture thicken as it continues to bubble and boil.
As it thickens, the bubbles will become fatter and look as if they are trying to force their way through the surface, as the oats lose their rigidity and try to absorb all the available liquid. At this point, you may wish to add an egg white and chia seeds, but do so quickly! They both add wonderful thickness to the oats, in such a short amount of time. Talk about some protein package, too. Once it looks as if all the liquid has absorbed, add more milk and continue to stir. If they already look creamy enough, remove the saucepan from the heat and pour into your bowl to initiate the cooling process. They should eventually look pale and thick, the oats broken down significantly, yet retain a slight chew if you take a small nibble. When you pour the mixture into your bowl, they will continue to cook and thicken a little more. After waiting around 5 minutes, feel free to add more milk. I like to add whole milk; I find it so much more luxurious and delicious compared to soy or any other alternative. Once it’s fully cooled (if you can wait that long), add a dash of cold cream or whole milk, and top with your desired toppings and sweeteners.
My favourite ritual involves stirring in a tablespoon or so of lush, natural peanut butter or almond butter right after the cooking, since it adds the most decadent creaminess and depth of flavour to your already creamy bowl of oats. I highly, highly recommend this step. Please, I implore you. Then add the aforementioned dash of cold milk. Go on. Do it. I then stir in a tablespoon of honey, and add a handful of fresh blueberries and raspberries, if I have any of those in the fridge.
Truly the queen of Thick and Creamy. Truly makes my mornings.