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How to Cook Oatmeal Perfectly

How to Cook Oatmeal Perfectly

Oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast because it’s a whole grain, which is good for your heart and digestive health, and full of fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer. It’s easy to customize oatmeal in a lot of different ways, which makes it less boring to eat regularly.

When cooking oatmeal, there’s a fine line between a delicious bowl of breakfast and a sticky, unappetizing mess. Learn how to cook oatmeal perfectly and you’ll have no more disappointment at the breakfast table.

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Types of Oatmeal

Before you think about how to cook oatmeal, you need to know what kind of oatmeal to buy. There are three major types that you can buy at the grocery store: instant or quick-cooking oats, rolled oats and steel-cut oats.

Steel-cut oats are the most traditional and longest-cooking variety. They are cut and steamed before packaging and are usually chewier than other varieties. Rolled oats are produced in much the same way but they are also rolled into flakes that make them a more consistent size and allow them to cook more quickly. Quick-cooking oats are rolled oats cut into smaller pieces that can cook in about a minute (compared to five minutes for the “slow” version), while instant oats are precooked and cut before packaging.

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Instant oats are usually sold in individual packages with seasonings included. Add boiling water, stir and they’re ready to eat.

Any kind of oatmeal can be cooked well, but your choice will depend on how much texture you like your oatmeal to have and how much time you have to cook it. Most people will be happy with rolled oats, which only take a few minutes to cook perfectly but have more texture and flavor than the quicker-cooking varieties.

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Preparing Quick-Cooking Oats

To make a single serving of quick-cooking oats, you’ll need a cup of water or milk (milk makes the creamiest oatmeal) and a little bit of salt, as well as half a cup of oats. Bring the liquid to a boil, stir in the oats and cook on the stove top for about a minute, stirring regularly. You want the water to be absorbed but don’t let them get too thick.

You can also cook quick-cooking oats in the microwave; just mix all the ingredients and cook on high for one to one and a half minutes.

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Cooking Rolled Oats

Regular rolled oats are cooked in much the same way as their quick-cooking counterparts, and they only take a little longer. Use the same ratio of half a cup of oats to a cup of liquid, but let the oatmeal cook about five minutes on the heat before serving. You can also cook them in the microwave for two and a half to three minutes.

How to Cook Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats are the least processed oats and thus take the longest to cook. The best way to cook steel-cut oats is to start the night before in your slow cooker. Combine two cups of oats with six cups of water and a pinch of salt, and cook on low for six or seven hours (or on high for three to three-and-a-half hours).

Seasoning Options

Don’t buy oatmeal in a preseasoned packet. It’s not as tasty and you’ll end up eating a lot more salt and sugar than if you just made it yourself. There are a lot more options if you do your own mix-ins: my family’s favorite sauteed diced apple and pecans with a little maple syrup served on top.

Other great options include:

  • cinnamon or other spices
  • nuts
  • peanut butter
  • jelly or jam
  • honey
  • dried fruit
  • applesauce—plain or flavored

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Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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