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Getting the most important meal on the table

I’m a breakfast person. Part of the incentive I have for going to bed at night is the idea that I get to eat again when I wake up in the morning. I wake up hungry, and I’m a cranky person if I can’t get something in my stomach, along with some strong, black coffee, within minutes of padding downstairs.

That’s not always easy. Mornings are a busy time for everyone, and getting something healthy, hearty and more interesting than a bowl of dry, boxed cereal on the table each day can be a challenge.

From a budget, health and convenience perspective, I have found good old-fashioned oatmeal is pretty hard to beat.

I have nothing against instant oatmeal, but I really do prefer old-fashioned oats. They have many uses in the kitchen that go beyond breakfast, they’re cheap and I don’t have to find a place in my pantry for a box full of paper packets, I just buy a big canister and stick it on top of my refrigerator.

It takes about five minutes of stove time to whip up a batch of hot oats in the morning, but then you have to wash a pot and wooden spoon.

For the days I know are going to be busy, but I know I want something healthy in my stomach, taking  a few minutes the night before to put this mixture together has been a lifesaver. It is best when it sits overnight, but in a pinch, I have eaten it after only an hour in the fridge (Enough time to read the paper, shower and walk the dog before digging in, right?).

Make-it-in-your-sleep oatmeal

Serves one

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)

1 tablespoon ground flax (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (or try other spices, like nutmeg, cloves or cardamom)

1 teaspoon brown sugar, or 1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 handful dried fruit of your choice (optional)

1/2 cup milk (The amount of liquid depends on how you like your oats. I don’t like runny oats, and this 1:1 ratio of oats to milk leaves them moist, with no extra liquid sloshing around. If you like them really runny, I would use a whole cup of milk. If you just want some extra milk in the bowl, use 3/4 cup. You can always pour more milk in in the morning, or add a spoonful of yogurt, if you want more moisture.)

Mix ingredients together in a cereal bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or use a Tupperware container with a lid) and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

When you wake up in the morning, they’re ready to eat. You could add fresh fruit or crunchy nuts at this point. You could also add milk or yogurt to suit your taste. Just don’t forget the coffee.

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