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Raw Oatmeal?

New York Times' Mark Bittman, in an article criticizing McDonald's fruit and maple oatmeal for being too expensive and a poor nutritional offering, counters the argument that getting McDonald's oatmeal is more convenient than making your own at home:

"If you don’t want to bother with the stove at all, you could put some rolled oats (instant not necessary) in a glass or bowl, along with a teeny pinch of salt, sugar or maple syrup or honey, maybe some dried fruit. Add milk and let stand for a minute (or 10). Eat. Eat while you’re walking around getting dressed. And then talk to me about convenience." http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/...

I haven't tried this suggestion, but it sounds pretty ghastly.

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  1. I should note that I am an oatmeal lover.
    When I eat it cooked, it needs to be really well-cooked and really creamy.
    I usually ignore the "5 minutes over medium heat" on the Quaker Oats "Old Fashioned" carton label and let it cook for 15 - 20 minutes. At just 5 minutes, it is still too grainy for me.

    4 Replies
    1. re: racer x

      I know it sounds weird, but think about granola, or those famous no-bake oatmeal cookies. It's totally edible, and what he is describing was probably the first cold cereal!

      1. re: katecm

        i'm totally thinking of those school cafeteria no-bake oatmeal-chocolate-peanut butter cookies. man oh man, i loved those things!

        1. re: alkapal

          YES. Those. My college roommate's mother used to make them. I'd never had them before and loved them (my grandma's were the chow mein noodles with butterscotch, which I now want as well). I have never made them on my own lest I gain back that freshman 15.

          1. re: katecm

            i did make some a few years ago. they surely took me back to "cafeteria-land" when i tasted them.

            it is said that the sense of smell is closely linked to memories -- scents and odors being evocative. the sense of taste is so related to the sense of smell (in fact, almost totally dependent upon the sense of smell). it stands to reason why eating those little cookies brought back so many "mind-pictures."

    2. My husband has an almost nightly snack of raw oatmeal mixed with almonds, milk, and maybe some type of dried fruit. We both laughingly call it his horse food. I don't think he let's it sit and soak the milk up at all. Puts a new face on the term "granola" guy, doesn't it? He also eats oatmeal cooked the usual way, generally in the a.m.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sasha1

        With a little advance planning, you could set your slow cooker the night before so that you can have cooked oatmeal on the fly in the morning. Uncooked oatmeal is pretty pasty. It tastes uncooked. Some foods taste as good raw as they do cooked, but I wouldn't rank oatmeal up there. I suppose adding it to yogurt along with other "muesli" type ingredients would make it edible, but on its own, just with water or milk? I think not.

        1. re: sasha1

          I'm another horse, 'cause I love a handful of raw oats while I'm cooking a batch. Have done it since I was a kid (my mother thought I was nuts, but that's another story altogether!)

          1. re: pine time

            Same here. Sometimes I just add a bit of brown sugar, mix it and eat it out of a bowl, raw.

            1. re: sarahjay

              100% agree. I love raw oats with brown sugar and cinnamon, but I love raw things in general. It tastes pure--which is somehow alluring.

        2. mcdonald's can't win, can they?

          i guess it is just way too much for americans to be responsible for themselves.

          1. I mean, it's really just muesli that's not soaked as long, and muesli? Amazing, and super-nutritious. I can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can have bircher muesli for breakfast again -- it's so good, my mouth is literally watering right now thinking about it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LauraGrace

              I guess I've got a project for tonight.

            2. Raw oatmeal isn't yucky. I squeeze some orange juice over it and mix it into my yogurt. It's good!

              1. I think it sounds pretty good. I would add cinnamon and apples.

                1. Rolled oat mixed with liquid, usually milk, is muesli. It can be eaten right after or let it sit until it absorb some of the liquid. One can add nuts, dried or fresh fruit or some other cereal, etc.

                  1. That article was just anti-McDonald's. I can't believe he had the audacity to say that it's not nutritious. I last had McDonald's oatmeal (and their parfait) this past Saturday, when I was done at the gym and was facing a hour of walking back home. 290 calories? Gone before I was home. In that situation, what was I supposed to do? Make the oatmeal at home, pack it and eat it 2 and a half hours later when it's nothing but cold goo? Fuck that.

                    I have multiple servings of oats a day. And, one thing I'm fairly certain of at this point is that it struggles to stand on its own. Adding just a pinch of salt and sweetener is going to result in an awful bland mix. Oatmeal needs to be accompanied by strong flavors, not background notes. Oat bagel with toppings, granola bars, cookies and so on are all fine (My first serving of the day comes with a couple of eggs and a bunch of other things), as is a bowl of oatmeal loaded with toppings.

                    Making something with a small number of ingredients is fine, if it's tasty. Doing it just for the sake of having something simple is just wrong. If you want "honest" oatmeal that taste awful, knock yourself out (I think oatmeal is one of the very few food items that you can truly compare to cardboard). The rest of us will dress it up and actually enjoy eating oatmeal.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: ediblover

                      I recently introduced my husband to oatmeal, and he loves it plain, so some people do love the taste by itself.

                      1. re: ediblover

                        It is rather ridiculous to suggest that McD's "FMO" is no better nutritionally than their sausage biscuit. But, I think what he objected to most--eleven ingredients you wouldn't find in your kitchen, to paraphrase--is valid. There's simply no reason for all that junk. It's oatmeal, not a terribly perishable product, and one that yes, might need dressing up, but that can be accomplished with just a few other ingredients. Oatmeal doesn't need thickeners, caramel color, flavorings, and barley malt extract, none of which are particularly objectionable from a health standpoint, except perhaps the caramel color.

                        1. re: ediblover

                          "The aspect one cannot argue is nutrition: Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin."

                          I think that somebody who chose oatmeal at McD's, thinking it was a healthy choice, would be quite disappointed to learn of this, no?

                          1. re: Rmis32

                            The calorie count is fine for most adults, but the sugar...

                            1. re: Rmis32

                              It's 290 calories. The oats themselves will count for about 150. My big problem was that HIS suggestion (the few ingredients approach) would end up with about the same calories. A sweetener or two is a lot of calories (Honey has 60). Heck, if you took his full suggestion of the oats, a sweetener or two, dried fruit and skim milk, the calorie count would actually be above 300 (It'd be around 400 if you went with the 2x sweetener and half-&-half).

                              It's a 300 calorie breakfast item that has a lot of sugars coming from fruit. Sure it has more sugar than a Snickers bar, but it has a fraction of the saturated fat, 5x the fiber, more protein and other nutrients. So, it is a healthy choice and I dare say possibly the best healthy breakfast option out of all the chains.

                              All that isn't saying that I actually like the stuff (I really don't). There no way I would have gotten it if I didn't have a big need for food and it only marked the second time I've gotten it since it came out. But, I stand by the points that his suggestion isn't all that great and that it's not always about us choosing between a fast food option and a home option.

                              1. re: ediblover

                                " possibly the best healthy breakfast option out of all the chains."

                                Damning with faint praise.

                                1. re: ediblover

                                  ediblover, that's a good point. It's easy to criticize, but most of life seems to be a matter of choosing the lesser of several evils.

                            2. Made some muesli this morning.
                              2 tbl rolled oats
                              2 tbl cream
                              2 tbl lemon juice
                              left overnight
                              added sugar (a lot because I am a sugar fiend)
                              added 1/3 of a very ripe banana, mashed

                              not as bad as I thought -- but it did need the sugar and banana to be appetizing (the lemon juice also made it too sour until the sugar sweets were added)

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: racer x


                                Give this one a shot. Works great reduced to one or two servings, or you can make the full batch two or three days in advance -- mix up the oats, juice, and apple and then add the rest of the ingredients in the morning just before you eat it. I use frozen berries -- usually raspberries or blueberries, but any berries work.

                                1. re: racer x

                                  What's the cream for?

                                  My hosts in Switzerland used to serve muesli with grated carrots and apples in it. And quark. Blueberry muesli from Trader Joe's just isn't the same.

                                  1. re: Windy

                                    "The Müsli in itself combined all the elements of the radical doctor's teachings on nutrition. Not only was it conceived as the main dish for breakfast and dinner, Bircher-Benner claimed that its nutritional content was as close to mother's milk as could be....

                                    [T]he main ingredients in the original Müsli were not cereals but fresh fruits: 200 grams of apple [ie, one large apple] per serving, with only a tablespoon of well soaked ground oats, some finely grated nuts for protein and fat, the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk. Instead of apples, one might add berries or other fruit; Bircher-Benner chose apples because they kept fresh even in winter and because he himself had experienced their curative power [when he had had jaundice].

                                    The Swiss health reformer knew that the use of industrially processed milk went against the grain of his basic argument. Yet he adopted it for reasons of hygiene [circa 1900]....

                                    He insisisted again and again that it was essential to add not only the finely grated apple pulp to the Müsli, but every bit of the apple, including the peel and the core...."

                                    Elisabeth Meyer-Renschhausen and Albert Wirz, "Dietetics, Health Reform and Social Order: Vegetarianism as a Moral Physiology. The Example of Maximilian Bircher-Benner (1867-1939)." Medical History, 1999;43:323-341, see especially pgs 339-40.
                                    pdf file: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...


                                    1. re: racer x

                                      Absolutely the peel and the core. And the milk was fresh from a farm (or a nearby cow). Didn't realize there was a Bircher in Bircher Muesli though.

                                      Maybe I'll have a bowl for dinner tomorrow.

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        Meant to post back that thanks to this thread, I got my Zyliss grater out and have been enjoying bowls of grated carrots, apples, and muesli nearly every day. It's like the opposite of a juice fast--half a carrot takes up a whole bowl, 1/3 of an apple is plenty. Plus about half a cup of muesli and a little skim milk. Heaven.

                                        Ironically, I took a good look at the ingredients on my TJ's lowfat muesli to discover it was full of rye and barley--hardly any oats to be found.

                                2. I also sometimes pan-roast raw oats as a crunchy topping to a yogurt-fruit parfait.

                                  1. My mom used to make it overnight by pouring milk or yogurt (and when we got older, buttermilk in combo with one or the other aforementioned) over rolled oats, and letting it sit in the fridge. It was sort of like muesli, I realize now. We ate it with sugar and raisins, but you can also add toasted nuts, cream, berries, bananas, dried cranberries, honey, whatever you fancy, really. I have a lot of Scottish heritage on both sides of the family, so maybe we're genetically predisposed to liking oats all kinds of ways?!? You can toast the rolled oats plain or in salted butter if raw oats grosses you out.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      my favorite breakfast and no scottish genes at all. it is just good!

                                      1. re: amyzan

                                        I learned from CH poster The Dairy Queen to mix steel-cut oats with yogurt and let it sit in the fridge overnight, then add fruit in the a.m. (or add frozen berries when it goes in the fridge). The steel-cut oats become pleasantly chewy. If I do rolled oats with milk (meusli), I eat it pretty much right away, as I prefer it chewy to soft.

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          Thanks for posting this. I'm wondering if anyone rinses their steel-cut oats. I've bought them from several sources and I do rinse. When the water run off is light-brown and cloudy, I am not sure whether to keep rinsing until clear for fear of rinsing off nutritional vitamins. So I 'moderately' rinse.

                                          1. re: Rella

                                            Hehe. Sounds like you may be overthinking your oats just a little :-P

                                            1. re: Rella

                                              there's no need to rinse them. that "cloudiness" you see is oat particles from when they were cut...kinda like oat sawdust :)

                                        2. I guess to be fair I shouldn't have called them "raw" oats, since it seems that rolled oats are steamed during processing. (according to the current wikipedia entry)

                                          Incidentally, in reading about oatmeal, I've learned that the only difference between Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal, Quick Quaker Oats, and Instant Quaker Oats is that the quick oats and the instant oats are rolled thinner and cut into smaller pieces so that they cook faster (also - vitamins, minerals, and flavoring ingredients are added to the instant oats).

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: racer x

                                            Yep. I buy whatever's the cheapest and throw them in the food processor for a second if they're old fashioned.

                                          2. nothing strange or ghastly about it...it's called muesli.

                                            just don't try it with steel-cut oats unless you plan to let it sit overnight ;)

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I am eating it as we speak with steel cut oats, the last of last summer's raspberries and yogurt from a nearby farm. I'd be in heaven were it not snowing again.

                                              1. re: magiesmom

                                                i heard you were in for another storm back there - stay warm!

                                                i had muesli with rolled oats, yogurt, honey, fruit & nuts for breakfast every day for a month when i was in Australia. i discovered how terrific it is with steel-cut once i got back to the States and was able to let it soften in the fridge overnight :) i love adding various textures to it just before eating - chewy dried fruit & crunchy toasted nuts or seeds. mmm. i haven't been eating grains for a few months, but now i'm craving it and it's supposed to start raining here - perfect excuse for a nostalgic Saturday morning breakfast tomorrow...

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  This whole thread... Mmmmm... I'm going to the store to buy juice and yogurt after work so I can make muesli tonight to eat in the morning. My mouth is watering a little just thinking about it -- wouldn't Pavlov be proud? ;)

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    It is one of the only ways I like coconut (unsweetened flakes) , yumm! I have also soaked in whey instead of yogurt when I have it from making ricotta and it is really good.

                                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                                      ooh, thanks for the reminder! now that i've officially conquered my lifelong hatred of coconut i'm always looking for excuses to sneak it into dishes. maybe i'll fold in some flakes (unsweetened, of course) or soak the oats in lite coconut milk...

                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I have always added a teaspoon of vinegar to rinsed steel-cut oats, and left it sit out on the counter overnight. There is a difference in taste when one adds the vinegar. (Confirmed by a few others).

                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                        There is a difference in taste when one adds the vinegar.
                                                        of course there is - vinegar isn't exactly flavorless! the more important effect is that *any* acidic ingredient - vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, yogurt, whey - neutralizes the phytates in the oats and makes them more digestible.

                                                2. I used to eat raw oatmeal (flakes) as a snack sometimes when I was a kid. Just the oatmeal. They're more interesting to eat than you might think.

                                                  1. That is what Muesli is basically.

                                                    1. For years I've eaten old fashioned oats mixed with cold water. Let it sit five minutes before you eat it. You can also mix in some whey protein powder to make it more filling.

                                                      1. Re: eating uncooked oats... I learned this from a Brazilian friend a few years ago. This is a very common breakfast in Brazil, especially for children. I was very put off when they described it (I couldn't imagine eating oats that hadn't been cooked first), but was very pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. I have made it many times since then. It's fast and healthy and tastes great.

                                                        Mash a ripe banana onto a plate with a fork.
                                                        Sprinkle it with old-fashioned oats -- about 1/4 to 1/3 c. or so -- and anything else you might like (e.g. cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, maple syrup, honey, raisins, etc.)
                                                        Mash and stir all together with a fork and eat. The banana somehow "cooks" and softens the oats; they become chewy in a very pleasant way.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                          Mashed banana, rolled oats, peanut butter, and nutella.
                                                          This is going to be great ! Now the next thing I'm going to try is rolled oats with instant
                                                          pudding soaked overnight. It can be my "oat" tapioca. : )

                                                        2. ive seen alot of people around the web making "overnight oats" lately that are raw (and oftentimes vegan).

                                                          you just add the liquid (milk, almond milk, cream, what have you) to the oats the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight while you sleep (or for a few hours). they end up swelling and softening almost like they do when you cook them.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                                            I make baked oatmeal that I like better than any "instant" or "overnight" I've tried. You mix the oats with milk, dried fruit, nuts, and egg--I think there may be a touch of baking powder as well. Then bake. When it's done I cut it in single portion pieces and freeze it. In the morning, put it in the microwave for a minute, then top with milk and eat. It's a different texture than regular oatmeal, but then I've never been a big porridge fan.