Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Homemade Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal "Packets"/Mix

 Have you ever read what is in a packet of flavored oatmeal you buy at the store? You know, those convenient boxes of pre-portioned oatmeal servings that you can rip open, put in a bowl with milk or water and microwave for a warm breakfast in a hurry? Well, I highly recommend reading what you are actually consuming! My rule of thumb lately is that if I can't buy it at the store, pronounce it or make it at home then I shouldn't be eating it or feeding it to my family.
  Well, my oldest daughter is in love with oatmeal. I mean, seriously in love. She loves oatmeal like I love chocolate. Wholely and completely. She would eat it for every meal if we let her, and honestly it's not a horrible choice of food. It's heads above boxed cereal and other store bought breakfast foods. But, I felt guilty every time I saw her open one of those paper packets and dump out all those processed flavorings and additives. So, my solution was to make it at home. 

   It's actually a very easy tast to accomplish.  Just think about how you make oatmeal on the stove. What do you use? Oatmeal, water (or milk) and salt, right? You might add some sugar or other sweetener and possibly some fruit, but that's pretty much it. Well, microwave oatmeal is almost just as simple. The only difference is that you want to take one extra step to make your microwave oatmeal thick and creamy like the store bought kind: you want to blend part of the oats. I know. It sounds odd. But, if you blend a part of the oats then the "oat flour" thickens the liquid you add and makes the whole dish more creamy.

Now, I referred to this recipe as being Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal "Packets," but I couldn't see the sense in wasting all those little baggies for oatmeal packets. Can you imagine? Well, my solution to cut out the waste and the extra work is to put a measuring cup into a canister of the Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal Mix. That way, each person can just get a scoop, add milk (or water) and microwave for a quick meal. And just in case anyone forgets how to do that, I wrote the instructions on the outside of the container. (And yes, I just recycled an old rolled oats container. "Waste not, want not.")

If you prefer your oatmeal thicker, then add less liquid. If you like it thinner, then add more. I find that microwaving 1/2 cup of mix with 3/4 cup liquid for 1 minute, stirring and letting it sit is the right consistency for my girls. It looks pretty runny when it first comes out of the microwave, but after letting it sit for a minute it thickens right up. (I was going to take an "after" shot of a pretty bowl of oatmeal, but my "Squishy" got to it first. So, I took a picture of a half eaten bowl of oatmeal.) :)

*I added a small amount of sugar to the recipe because it's difficult for my kids to add just a touch of honey or pure maple syrup to their oatmeal without making a huge mess, or adding way too much. This way, everything is together and the oatmeal is already slightly sweetened.
*You can make this just Strawberry Oatmeal by leaving out the powdered milk.
*I add the sugar to the oats in the blender, so that it becomes superfine sugar and get more evenly distributed throughout the entirety of the oatmeal mix.
*You could leave out the flax if you didn't have it, but it's better with it.
*I used old-fashioned rolled oats, because I use them for everything calling for oats; but quick oats work too (and would have a more "store bought" oatmeal texture).
*If you decide to make actual "packets," put 1/2 cup oatmeal mix in each bag/packet.

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal Packets/Mix

7 cups rolled oats, divided
5 cups freeze dried strawberries, divided
1/2 cup ground flax seed (I use organic golden flax meal)
1 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup sugar (optional, to taste)
1 tsp fine salt

Put 5 cups of rolled oats into a large bowl with 2 cups freeze dried strawberries, flax seed meal, powdered milk, and salt. In a blender, blend up 2 cups of rolled oats, 3 cups of freeze dried strawberries and the sugar (if using). Blend to a fine powder and then add to the oat mixture in the large bowl. Stir until everything is well combined. Store in an airtight container. 
1 serving is 1/2 cup of oatmeal mix, with 3/4 cup milk (or water).

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