My soul needs love this week. And friends, I can’t do that without loving the body that houses it.
Yesterday morning, as the sun came up, I was boiling water for tea. I was stirring cocoa and almond milk into steel cut oats. I was drizzling maple syrup. I needed goodness.
Because I take comfort in this morning ritual, it’s something I’ve worked to perfect and prepare for. Each week, I make a large batch of plain steel cut oatmeal, let it cool, divide it into squares, and store it in the fridge. Each morning for breakfast, I take out the portion we need, heat it, dress it up, and take it in. I give my body what it needs: satiety, antioxidants, protein, vitamins, minerals, and chocolate. I leave out refined sugar and empty ingredients.
Really, this make-ahead breakfast is something that should be part of your regular morning breakfast rotation. That goes double if you’re already into porridge or oatmeal, and triple if you’d like to eat chocolate for breakfast while still opening the day with a healthy meal. I’m including steps here for both the make-ahead steel cut oatmeal and chocolate berry oatmeal bowls, so you could use either recipe alone if you just want to make the plain oatmeal, or if you want to make oatmeal your own way but turn it wonderful afterwards.
My method for the oats is very simple. Yours will be the same, but the number of breakfasts you’ll get out of it may be a bit different depending on how much you need in the mornings. Ryan and I both like smaller bowls of oatmeal piled high with toppings, but he likes to eat even less than I do first thing in the morning. So this recipe makes a total of twelve breakfasts and feeds the two of us for six mornings. I’ve worked out how large I need to cut my squares to feed the both of us. The recipe I’m including below will probably make you 8-12 single servings, so if you’re only one person, you may need to cut it in half. If you’re feeding a family, either double the recipe and make it in a large pot, or make this amount twice each week. I put 45 minutes as the cook time for these oats, but remember that’s just the make-ahead part: once you’ve got them made, the time in the morning to get them ready to eat is less than 5 minutes.
Toasting the oats in coconut oil really helps bring out their flavor and improves the texture of the finished oatmeal, so don’t skip that step.
Tip: I’m going to go over the make-ahead prep steps, so if you just want to learn how to turn your oatmeal chocolatey and delicious, skip to the recipe!
After your oats are done cooking, pour them into a baking dish–I like to use one with a lid, but if you don’t have a lid you can cover it with foil afterwards. My dish is 9×9 inches. It looks like this.
Let it cool completely before dividing it into portions. If you’re eating some first, go ahead and do that and then let the rest cool right in the dish. I just stick mine in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I cut it with a butter knife and leave the portions that way until I’m ready to use them. I didn’t take a picture after cutting this one, but you get the idea. And I drew lines for you, just in case.
In the morning, I take out one portion (which, for me, serves two people) and I put it in a saucepan with a splash of almond milk. Water works fine, too. Then I add my cocoa powder and other chocolate base ingredients, but skip them if you’re just doing plain. Using a silicone spatula, I break up the oatmeal as it heats up. You can add more liquid here if you like your oats a little thinner. Do what you do!
When they’re ready, I pile the toppings high. We really love frozen berries (I don’t bother to thaw them, but you could), ground flax, pepitas, almonds, Brazil nuts, and a swirl of maple syrup or blackstrap molasses for extra minerals and vitamins. I like that the oats have a chocolatey flavor without really being sweet or feeling like a heavy dessert.
And there you have it. This is my favorite breakfast, and I rely on it to keep my days grounded when things are difficult. I’ll even make up a bowl in the middle of the night before heading out to a birth. Oatmeal is great like that. I’d love to hear about some of the ways you dress up your oats.
A breakfast of steel cut oats with chocolate, maple, vanilla, berries, nuts, and seeds. Simple, nourishing, and delicious.
- 1-1/4 cup steel cut oats
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 cups water
- 1 portion steel cut oats
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional, for healthy fats)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional, to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- splash of almond milk or water
- toppings (all optional, to taste): fresh or frozen berries, sliced banana, ground flaxseed, pepitas or almonds, 1 Brazil nut per serving, extra drizzle of maple syrup or blackstrap molasses
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot (I use enameled cast iron but work with what you've got), heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the oats and toast until fragrant, turning frequently with a silicone spatula.
When the oats smell all deliciously nutty, add 4 cups of the water and bring to a boil.
When oats come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until they've absorbed most of the water, stirring every few minutes with a silicone spatula. Add the rest of the water and the sea salt (I just find that waiting to add the last cup of water keeps the pot from boiling over in the previous step).
Stir every few minutes to keep the bottom from burning. Simmer until the oats have absorbed the water and are tender with a bit of a chewiness to them. I wrote 45 minutes as the cook time, but it really depends on your pot. Just watch them and don't forget to stir.
When they're finished, remove from the heat and transfer to a glass storage dish to let cool completely before cutting into portions.
Combine oatmeal portion(s) and all ingredients except the toppings in a saucepan. Combine using a silicone spatula over medium-low heat until smooth and hot. If you have trouble smoothing out the chunky oats at first, don't worry--they'll soften up as they heat.
Place oats in a bowl and pile in your toppings!