Lisa Farmer: Steel-Cut Oatmeal Porridge

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January is Oatmeal Month.  Most people are familiar with rolled and quick cooking oats; however steel cut oats aren’t found on the breakfast table as often.  They have a longer cooking time but with a little planning they can be on your table just as easily.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups additional liquid, such as low-fat milk, soymilk, almond milk, orange juice, apple juice or water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 2/3 cup dried fruit, such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, dates, chopped prunes, dried figs or dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, maple syrup, honey or agave syrup (add sweetener to taste)


Basic stovetop method:  Bring 2 cups water, 1 ½ cups additional liquid of your choice, and salt to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan.  Sprinkle in oats, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, 15 minutes.  Add dried fruit.  Cook, stirring often, until porridge has thickened and oats have a tender, but chewy texture, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Overnight soak method:  Soaking the oats overnight gives you a head start, so cooking time in the morning will be shorter.  The night before, place 2 cups water, salt and oats in large bowl.  Cover and let stand overnight.  In the morning, bring 1 ½ cups additional liquid of your choice to a boil in large, heavy saucepan.  Add soaked oats, any remaining soaking liquid, and dried fruit.  Return to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until porridge has thickened and oats have a tender, but chewy texture, 10 to 15 minutes.

When porridge is ready, stir in vanilla, if using.

Porridge will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days of in the freezer (packed in individual portions) for up to 4 months.  To reheat, place portion (thawed, if frozen) in microwave-safe bowl; add 2 Tablespoons liquid.  Cover with wax paper and microwave at High about 3 minutes, stirring once.

To serve, top each serving with a sprinkling of cinnamon, 2 tsp brown sugar (or other sweetener) and finish with your choice of stir-ins and toppings.

  • Yield:  6 (2/3 cup servings)
  • Per serving: (with 1 ½ cups low-fat milk and raisins): Calories: 190, total fat: 2.5g, saturated fat: 0.5g, cholesterol: 5mg, sodium: 85mg, carbohydrates 37g, fiber: 4g, protein: 7g.
  • Topping & stir-in suggestions for each 2/3 cup serving:
  • Stir in 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal.  Adds 35 calories & 2g fiber.
  • Stir in 1 Tbsp almond butter (or peanut butter). Adds 100 calories & 2g protein.
  • Stir in 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder.  Adds 10 calories.
  • 2 Tbsp low-fat yogurt (plain or vanilla, regular or Greek). Adds 20 calories, 2g protein, & 56g calcium.
  • 2 Tbsp low-fat milk (or nondairy milk). Adds 15 calories & 38g calcium
  • ½ cup sliced banana. Adds 70 calories & 2g fiber
  • ½ cup diced apple. Adds 35 calories and 2g fiber
  •  ½ cup blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries. Microwave frozen fruit at High 30-40 seconds. Adds 40 calories & 2g fiber
  • 1 Tbsp sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, preferably toasted. Adds 35 calories.

Source:  Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2012.

Lisa Farmer, Nutrition Coordinator, YMCA of Greater KC

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