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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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