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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

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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