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Something Different
Week of: October 8, 2012
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Making Oatmeal Extraordinary

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

On school mornings my health-conscious mother allowed me to have only whole grains at breakfast. At the time, that meant whole-wheat toast, shredded wheat cereal, wheat flakes, hot oatmeal or Wheatena. Do you recall that one? Its toasted taste was comforting but the gritty texture was no fun.

Sticking to whole grains and forbidding processed sugar put my mother two generations ahead of her time. For sweetening, I could have raisins, honey or maple syrup; for her, white sugar was a food of the devil, right alongside white bread and soda pop. Even brown sugar was suspect.

Fortunately, the oatmeal my mother made was extraordinary. I still rely on two of the preparations that made it so enjoyable. The first is cooking a shredded apple, a handful of raisins, or both with the oatmeal to add wholesome sweetness. The second is ground cinnamon mixed in while the cereal cooks. Simmering the cinnamon with the grains allows its sweetness to pervade them rather than just sitting on top as when sprinkled on before serving.

For sweetness, I add another ingredient – apple cider – in the liquid when cooking most grains for breakfast. This works well with quinoa, brown rice, and rye or barley flakes as well as with oatmeal.

My mother added sweetness to satisfy me, but these methods can add useful nutrients to a meal, too, from the fiber and vitamins in apples and raisins to the phytochemicals in cinnamon.

In this hearty porridge combining oats and quinoa, I use almond milk. Interestingly, it creates a creamier texture than using dairy milk, while contributing a lovely flavor. Do be sure to purchase one that is unsweetened.

Creamy Quinoa Oat Porridge

Creamy Quinoa Oat Porridge

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. dark maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. ground flaxseed, optional

In medium saucepan, combine quinoa with 1¾ cups water, and salt. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 15 minutes. Off heat, let quinoa stand for 5 minutes. Set 1/2 cup of quinoa aside. Transfer the rest to a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days for another use.

In medium saucepan, combine almond milk, cider and 1/2 cup water, and bring to a boil. Immediately stir in oats, and add cooked quinoa, grated apple and cinnamon. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring several times during the first 10 minutes, then frequently during the final 5 minutes to minimize sticking.

Divide porridge among 3 bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of maple syrup over each serving. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flax seed over each serving, if using. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 servings (2½ cups total).

Per serving: 261 calories, 5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 47 g carbohydrate
8 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 172 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.


Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at www.aicr.org.


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