One lazy, hot summer morning this past August I was sitting with our cottage neighbours, Paul and Lizzie, on their deck discussing breakfast. It's usually what we did in the late morning, just after the day's breakfast, we talked about breakfast. (Gosh, it's why I miss summer so much because you have those day's when you can spend enormous amounts of time discussing what to eat, and it can be your biggest concern in a day.) On this particular morning, as we all nursed our third cups of coffee, we started to name all the things we liked to add to oatmeal. Paul told Scarlett the story of how, when his three children were young, they came up with the name "little bear" for each item mixed into oatmeal. Each morning Paul would ask his kids, "How many little bears do you want?" Their answer was always some whacky number that only children know how to count to like one thousand hundred. So the contest began. Scarlett decided she wanted to see how many little bears she could get into her oatmeal.
Let me tell you, we didn't just start making oatmeal yesterday. We have a lot of experience getting a whole lot of bears in the pool. On any given morning, we can stir in sliced apricots, almonds, coconut, sliced apple, pistachios, dried blueberries, mango and pecans–Not necessarily all together but we do like to experiment. In our new book (I still love saying that), How to Feed a Family we have a great recipe that includes coconut and almond milks, chia, bananas and brown sugar. In other words, three little bears. (You can't count the liquid.)
I'm no stranger to peanut butter. If you're a regular reader of this site, you've seen me shoe-horn peanut butter into any recipe I can think of. It was only a matter of time before I got it into oatmeal and it didn't disappoint. It basically tastes like a peanut butter and banana sandwich with honey. Even my mother who finds it difficult to deviate from her routine of bran cereal in the morning, got addicted to these oats on a recent visit. I hate to say it, but I found her late one night eating the cold leftovers out of a plastic container. (If your family deals with a peanut allergy, a lot of the other butters including almond, sunflower and even pumpkin stir in nicely to the dish.)
I've been making these oats a lot lately because you can pop them into a slow cooker and store them for breakfast. It's also an ideal meal for kid's heading off to school. In a recent article by dietitian Leslie Beck in The Globe and Mail, Ms. Beck reported that "carbohydrate-rich foods do a better job than others at sustaining brain power." Low-glycemic food like oatmeal "provide a slower and more lasting release of glucose, enhancing memory and attention." It was all I needed to hear to make more recipes with little bears.
I think our highest little bear total is 10 but we're still working on other recipes. Maybe we'll make some time today to do nothing but chat about what we could add to our next pot of oatmeal. Sounds so decadent doesn't it?
Slow Cooker Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich Oatmeal
1 1/4 cups steel cut oats
2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Add oats, almond milk, water, flax meal, chia seeds, vanilla extract, salt and peanut butter into your slow cooker. Give it all a stir with a whisk to break up the peanut butter. Arrange banana slices across the top. Drizzle the honey and then sprinkle the brown sugar across the top. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours or high for about 2.
In the morning, hit snooze because you can sleep a few minutes later since breakfast is made. Scoop oatmeal out of slow cooker, pour in splash of almond milk and garnish with toasted, sliced almonds and some coconut. Or not. It's just what I do. You can sprinkle whatever you want on top. Don't tell any one, but I've actually sprinkled mini dark chocolate chips on top. Ok, I take that back. I've never done that. Really.