My last post was a recipe for Overnight, Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal--a favorite recipe I've been making for several years. You can read about the nutritional benefits of eating steel-cut oats in that post. Today I'm sharing a new version of that recipe with the same procedure and convenience, but with different flavors and ingredients. This also has the rockin' benefit of making it before you go to bed and waking up to a ready-to-eat breakfast.
I made this overnight oatmeal with almond milk, which adds delicious flavor and nutrition. If you omit the butter, this recipe is lactose-free and vegan. It tastes delicious and quite different from my original apple-cinnamon version. I love the flavors of cherries and almond together. The almond flavoring comes from almond extract, almond milk, and toasted almonds sprinkled on top.
Dried, tart cherries are a SUPER FRUIT! In fact, they are one of the highest in disease fighting antioxidants. They have 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries or strawberries, contributing to healthier skin, good vision and a robust immune system. Read more about the benefits of dried cherries here.
Why use almond milk? Well, first of all, it tastes good and really complements the other flavors in this recipe. It's also very nutritious and is a great alternative to cow's milk, making it suitable for lactose-free and vegan cooking. Almond milk is packed with nutrients. A serving provides 30% of recommended daily calcium, 25% of Vitamin D, and 50% of Vitamin E. That means it contributes to strong bones, good vision, healthy skin and more. It has zero cholesterol and is low in carbs--good for you heart, regulating blood sugar, and weight loss. Read more about it's benefits here.
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 5 pts per 3/4 cup serving
Step-by-step photos for making
Overnight, Slow Cooker, Cherry Almond Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: dried cherries, apple, almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk), steel-cut oats, brown sugar, almond extract, salt, ground flaxseed, butter*, sliced toasted almonds (for optional garnish).
*Omit the butter or use a margarine substitute for a lactose-free, vegan recipe.
Step 2. Peel and grate the apple. This cooks into the oatmeal to add sweetness and moisture, without a distinct apple flavor. You can substitute applesauce, if you prefer.
Step 3. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Don't skip this step, or you will really regret it. You'll need a hammer and chisel to get the slow cooker clean if it's not sprayed with oil first. (I speak from experience here.)
Step 4. Throw everything in the slow cooker. Stir it. I have a 6-1/2 quart slow cooker, but 3-1/2 quarts is big enough for this recipe. I can double the recipe in my slow cooker when I'm feeding more than 4 or 5 people.
click here for Amazon link to my Crock Pot (rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated)
Step 5. Put on the lid. Set it to cook on low for 7 hours. That's how long it takes in my slow cooker, anyway. The cooking time can vary greatly from one slow cooker to another, so read my tips below for How To Avoid Overcooking Your Oatmeal.
Step 6. Go to bed. Wake up to the sweet aroma of cherries and almond.
Here's how it looks after 7 hours of cooking. Let's be honest. It doesn't look very appetizing. Don't let that freak you out.
Dig out a spoonful from the bottom to reveal the gooey, goodness of the finished oatmeal. It gets crusty around the edges of the slow cooker. That's my favorite part. The cherries plump up while they cook and are moist and tender.
The finished dish tastes more like a cherry crisp dessert than a healthy breakfast. Those brown bits mixed in are so yummy. You can top it with maple syrup, toasted sliced almonds, and more almond milk and butter, if you like. I added sliced almonds on top of mine.
How To Avoid Overcooking Your Oatmeal. My overnight oatmeal was perfect after 7 hours of cooking, and I was lucky that it turned out perfectly with the first try. Although many have had the same success, some readers have commented that their oatmeal was burnt and ruined after 7 hours--that was too long in their slow cookers. There can be some trial-and-error in figuring out exactly how long to cook this in your slow cooker--they can vary a lot in temperature and cooking time. Here are some tips to try:
view on Amazon: on-off lamp timer (for auto shut-off)
view on Amazon: heat-proof bowls for double boiling in slow cooker
(The largest bowl in this set fits inside my slower cooker)
Make it ahead and reheat leftovers. I make a batch of this, refrigerate leftovers in 1 cup containers, and reheat individual servings in the microwave. Heat it in a microwave proof bowl with 1/3 cup additional almond milk, cook on high for 1 minute. Stir and microwave approx. 1 more minute until hot. Breakfast is ready! It's easy to grab one of these to take along to heat up at work. Freezes well, too.
A spoonful of this is cherry delicious.
Make it a yummy day!
You might also be interested in these. Same idea, different flavors: