Consider this the “Weekend Musings: Back to School Edition.”
I reached out to various readers with children (including my own sister) for how they feed their kids with oats. I asked for anything: stories, tips, recipes. This is what I have for you. 🙂
– Creamy Oatmeal Base:
2 cups milk (I almost always use almond milk, but have used coconut milk and very rarely, I use cow milk.), 3/4 cup of quick oats. This serves 3 people. For every additional person at the table I add 1/4 cup oats and a 1/2 cup of milk. I use quick oats because I have a toddler who wakes up hungrier than a raptor and I just can’t wait more than 5 minutes to give him breakfast! I put the oats and milk into a pot, crank it to boil, and stir. When it’s boiled for 3-5 minutes, I remove from stove. This is when you can stir in any flavourings or toppings! Enjoy!
-An Oatmeal Bar. . .
. . .works really well for guests or picky eaters. Make a base oatmeal and set out “toppings” and sweetener. I make a creamy oatmeal base and then set out honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar for the sweetener. Then for toppings I put graham crumbs, peanut butter, cocoa powder, coconut, Oreo crumbles, bananas, peaches, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries (mostly whatever fruit is in season, or frozen/thawed fruit in winter).
Related post: Check out this post on how to
make 4 different oatmeals from one pot!
-For smaller babies . . .
. . . just learning to eat different textures, I will throw my oats in the food processor or blender first to make them smoother. It’s a great alternative to store bought mushy cereals. You can gradually process the oats less and less to get a thicker and chunkier texture until baby is eating regular foods with the family! I keep some of my toppings in the freezer, like the Oreo and graham crumbs, and the coconut sometimes, because it helps cool the oatmeal down a bit when stirred in so it doesn’t burn little mouths.
-The top requested breakfast in our house is Peanut Butter Oatmeal.
I make a batch of Creamy Base oatmeal and then I stir in 2 tbsp of brown sugar and 2 tbsp of peanut butter. I usually sprinkle some Oreo or graham crumbs on top to be fancy!
TOA: I think this goes without saying, but be careful when introducing your child to nuts and nut butters.
My kids enjoy oatmeal whenever I make it for them, and I feel that is much more of a nutritious breakfast than cold cereal. However, I’m not a fan of adding more sugar into their diets, because sugar is everywhere and so I try to keep it minimal.
When making oatmeal, I never use refined sugar. The main sweetener that I use is a tip that I got from the Oatmeal Artist. Adding mashed banana to the recipe works wonderfully. Sometimes I will add pure maple syrup to some recipes as well.
We use oats for oatmeal, baked oatmeal, granola, or muesli. I love muesli at our house. It’s so wonderful to take some oats, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and mix them with yogurt and milk for a great breakfast for my kids. When I make it for myself, I use non-dairy milk (usually coconut milk) and no yogurt. (Of course oatmeal cookies and oatmeal breakfast cookies are also sometimes made.)
Related Posts: New to muesli? Check out all my muesli recipes.
I enjoy making my own granola also as it allows me to control the ingredients and keeps refined sugars and unhealthy oils out of my breakfast.
– Fresh & Frozen Fruits
Usually when I make oatmeal for my kids, I just use whatever fruits I have on hand or frozen. Pumpkin pie oatmeal, naturally sweetened banana oats with maybe fresh or frozen strawberries or blueberries, Pina-Colada oatmeal, apple and peanut butter oatmeal or spiced apple variety.
A couple of non-Oatmeal Artist recipes that we love include a recipe that is baked oatmeal and includes oats, spices, fruit, milk, yogurt, eggs, and maple syrup. My kids literally beg for this recipe on birthday mornings and it can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature.
The other one is called an oatmeal breakfast cookie, but it is mixed oats, milk, peanut butter, maple syrup, and option dried fruit which is left to sit in the fridge overnight and eaten cold (so pretty similar to a muesli).
– Bulk Recipes
I forgot to add that I have 5 kids, so I like recipes that I can make easily in bulk. Oatmeal is adaptable that way. A recipe that I put together that I often make and adjust to what I have on hand includes: 6 ¾ cup water (which can be ½ non-dairy milk), 4C oats, salt and chia seeds, 2 mashed bananas, 2 bowls of sliced strawberries, 1 bowl of blueberries, and either 2T honey or an extra banana. This feeds 6-7 hungry people (i.e. my kiddos). My kids are big breakfast eaters, so I have to make a lot. They love oatmeal and are not picky at all with these recipes. (Although I’ve raised my kids to not be overly picky with food.)
Related Posts: Check out all my Big Batch recipes here!
– Solutions for Rushed Mornings
To speed up mornings I love making muesli with oats, although using leftover oatmeal works great too. Cooking oatmeal in a slow cooker is also a method I use from time to time (both with rolled oats and steel cut oats).
– Avoiding Unnecessary Ingredients
We never buy prepared oatmeal packages because of the added sugar and other ingredients. I don’t think they are as healthy in general.
I always have porridge in the morning but my boys were always getting something different just for variety. One day I thought, well I eat the same thing every morning why can’t they? So I told them and they agreed to have porridge every day too. It’s the best thing ever–nutritious and it makes my life very easy.
– Overnight Oatmeal
I soak the oats in milk every night and in the morning I just heat some milk in the pan and add the oats. One of my boys eats healthier than the other so he is happy with any topping the other has always a bit of rice syrup, maple syrup, date syrup . . . anything sweet.
Related posts: TOA also makes overnight oats most days and heats them up
in the mornings. See more overnight recipes here.
– Prepared Toppings and Mix-Ins
For the other boy and myself I do this: I cook loads of sweet potatoes and freeze them so they are always ready. I blend them with some dates and it’s just the best thing ever and extremely filling. Persimmons is another favourite of ours. Again, when in season I buy by the box and freeze and blend, and it’s the sweetest topping of them all. Cinnamon is another nice one and apple. Those are the favourites around here.
Related post: Buying bananas in bulk and how to freeze them
– No fresh fruit? Make it work!
If no fruit around I add goji berries at night time and in the morning are all sweet and fluffy.
TOA: My sister is a lady of few words. Thus, I took her advice, paraphrased it to create complete sentences, and added pretty pictures. I think she’ll approve. 🙂
– Oatmeal for Babies: Consistency is Key!
I make thick oatmeal so it’s easier for him to pick up with either his hands or a spoon when first learning how to use utensils.
– Fruit: Cook with the oatmeal, or add at the end?
I have to cook the fruit with the oatmeal or Graham would just pick the fruit out. He’s a big fruit fan. Graham is such a good eater that I don’t need to do anything special. He had Cinnamon Banana Oatmeal this morning.
TOA: As you can see, the mothers in this post have contrasting opinions about when to add the fruit. It appears to depend on the age of the child and their taste preferences. Figure out what works best for you and your little one(s)!
– And of course. . .
Always expect a mess.