Groatmeal is the new favorite breakfast in our house. King-Man has it every single morning. For many, many years he ate nothing but Life Cereal for breakfast. I wrote about that a few years ago in my post Married to a Serial Cereal Eater. Since then, in pursuit of a healthier breakfast King-Man and I became a fans of Refrigerator Oatmeal in the summer months and Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats the rest of the year. Now that I've started making groatmeal regularly, King-Man wants nothing else for breakfast. We both love the nutty taste and texture, and the hearty whole grain oats help us stay full longer and fight the hungries until lunch. Although I don't think groatmeal is a real word, that's our nickname for this nourishing hot cereal.
Oat groats are the least processed kind of oats. They are the whole oat kernel with the inedible outer hull removed and the bran layer left intact. Because of their minimal processing, they have the highest nutritional value of all oats. (Mind you, most forms of oats are nutritionally similar. Read how they compare in my Ultimate Guide to Oats.) The nutritional profile, texture and taste of groats is most similar to steel cut oats. However, because groats are the whole kernel and steel cut oats have been cut into smaller pieces, it takes longer to digest groats. That means they keep you feeling full longer and do the best job of all oats types at stabilizing blood sugars. Here are more of the health benefits of eating oats.
What are the health benefits of eating oats?
Oat Groats are perfect for the slow cooker. After discovering the taste and nutritional superiority of oat groats, I was surprised that they weren't more popular. Although groats are commonly used for animal feed, they've never really caught on for people food and are the least popular form of oats. Well, no more! Not in my house anyway. I think the reason groats are less popular is that they take so long to cook. It takes up to an hour to cook them on the stove top; that's twice (or more) longer than other types of oats. So, they're not something that can be made at the last minute. But the long required cooking time makes them perfect for the slow cooker. Throw them in a crockpot before you go to bed, and wake up to a nutritious, delicious breakfast. It couldn't be easier.
Groatmeal Nutritional Information (for one 3/4 cup serving using whole milk without sweetener): 169 calories, 3.9g fat, 142mg sodium, 28.3g carbs, 4.1g fiber, 5.5g sugars, 7.5g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4
Vegan and gluten free options. Use non-dairy milk (I like almond or coconut milk) for vegan groatmeal. Gluten-free oat groats are available, too.
This is a basic recipe with a neutral, oat flavor that can be customized with additional favorite add-ins. Feel free to experiment with adding your favorite fruits, extracts, sweeteners or nuts before or after cooking the groatmeal.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
--Want to make your own applesauce? Check out my easy recipe:
Fruit & Applesauce Blends.
view on Amazon: organic maple syrup
Step 2. Coat the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray, butter, or oil. Add the ingredients to the slow cooker. First add the dry ingredients (groats, chia/flaxseed, salt, cinnamon) and give them a stir. (If you don't stir them and distribute the ingredients, the chia seeds and cinnamon tend to clump together as they cook.) Then add the apples/applesauce, milk, water and optional sweetener. Stir to combine, cover, and cook.
I have a 6-1/2 quart slow cooker, but a 4 quart one is big enough for this recipe. If you have a smaller slow cooker or prefer to make a smaller batch, simply cut all of the ingredients in half. The recipe can also be doubled for a super-sized batch of groatmeal.
view on Amazon: My Programmable Slow Cooker (rated #1 by Cooks Illustrated--I love mine!)
Step 3. Cook on low for approximately 6-7 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. My slow cooker automatically switches to a "keep warm" setting after the cooking is complete; so I can start this before I go to bed, and it's still warm when I get up in the morning. If you don't have a programmable slow cooker like mine, read my tips below for an easy way to make yours programmable.
Here's how mine looks when I first lift the lid after 7 hours of cooking time. You can see the shredded apples settled on the top, but they stir into the mixture and virtually disappear.
In my slow cooker, the edges get brown and caramelized. I love that crunchy flavor and like to stir the browned bits into my groatmeal.
I prefer to use just enough liquid to cook the oats completely so that they soften but have a firm, chewy texture.
If you prefer a creamier, softer texture, simply add 1 (or more) additional cup(s) of milk to the cooking ingredients and extend the cooking time by 30-60 minutes. The double-boiler method explained below, also results in a creamier texture. Here's how the creamier version looks:
How to Avoid Overcooking Your Groatmeal. My overnight groatmeal is perfect after 7 hours of cooking and keeps a good consistency for up to 2 additional hours on the warm setting. However, because slow cookers vary a lot in temperature and cooking time, there can be some trial-and-error in figuring out exactly how long to cook this in your slow cooker. 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 every week, refrigerate leftovers in 1 cup plastic containers or mason jars, and reheat individual servings in the microwave. Heat it in a microwave proof bowl with 1/3 cup 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. These freeze well, too. (Warning: If you freeze in glass jars, make sure you leave at least 1/2" of headspace to allow for expansion in the freezer.)
Pre-assemble ingredients for quick batches in the future. Since I make at least one batch of groatmeal per week, it makes life easier to assemble the dry ingredients ahead. While I have all of the ingredients out to make a batch of groatmeal, I assemble extra jars of the dry ingredients to have on hand for future batches. That way I can easily throw them in the slow cooker before I go to bed. All I have to add to the pre-assembled jar mix is milk, water, and applesauce (or shredded apples). Pint mason jars are the perfect size to hold a single batch of dry ingredients.
My favorite way to eat groatmeal is sprinkled with additional cinnamon, drizzled with some maple syrup, and berries or bananas slices on top. King-Man likes to add more milk to his with a heaping spoon of brown sugar.
How about you? What would you like on a bowl of hot groatmeal?
Make it a Yummy day!
(keep scrolling for the printable recipe)
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