Creamy Spiced Oatmeal

Serves 4
My experience feeding boys has taught me that oatmeal is the most efficient breakfast for long-term morning energy. After all these years, I’ve convinced the boys, too, one of whom started asking for it when any sort of school test loomed. But oatmeal can be boring and tasteless if not prepared properly. Try using milk, steeped with spices, and the best-quality oats. Vary the “sweet spices”— such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, coriander, and star anise—to taste or according to what’s in your cupboard. Top with maple syrup or honey, sliced bananas, and maybe some chopped toasted almonds. Save time on busy weekday mornings by making a large pot of oatmeal on Sunday night, then cooling and storing it in the refrigerator in a large covered container. Reheat the needed quantity in a saucepan or microwavable bowl, stirring in a little water or milk to loosen up the cereal.


  • 1 cup milk (soy, almond, or rice milk can be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 4 allspice berries (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup rolled oats, preferably organic
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey (optional)
  • 2 ripe bananas (optional)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and water with the spices and bay leaf over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and steep for 2 minutes. Add the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are tender, between 5 and 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and cover for a minute. Discard the bay leaf and whole spices. Portion into bowls and drizzle with maple syrup, then top with the bananas and almonds, if desired. Serve immediately.
cook's note
Oats A half-cup serving of heart-healthy, whole-grain oats contains seven B vitamins; many
minerals, including iron and calcium; cholesterol-lowering water-soluble fiber; and 6 grams
of protein. Many types of oats are available. Look for oats with texture and body. • Steel-cut
oats are oat groats cut into two or three pieces but not rolled before drying, requiring a long
cook time to become tender. • Thick, old-fashioned rolled oats, which will cook a little more
quickly than steel-cut, are oat groats steamed and flattened with huge rollers, then dried.
• Don’t buy the mushy instant variety consisting of cut oat groats, precooked and dried before
rolling, which contain the least nutrition of the three types and are often sold presweetened
and artificially flavored. • Regardless of the package instructions, ask yourself if you like your
oatmeal thick or thin, chewy or soft, sweet or savory, then experiment with the liquid to grain
ratio, cooking time, and flavoring until you have your favorite consistency. This recipe results
in a thick and creamy dish.
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