You don’t have to wait until dinner to start celebrating. This decadent spin on morning oats delivers a chocolate fix first thing, and may leave you wanting it in regular rotation. Soaking satisfying steel-cut oats overnight is a clever way to make their cooking time nearly on par with the instant flakes. And if that gets you choosing them more often consider it a health win. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in February 2021 in The Journal of Nutrition showed that blood sugar and insulin responses are better after eating intact oat kernels, like steel-cut oats, than after eating more processed forms, such as rolled or instant oats. (Of course, you can make this with other kinds of oats if you prefer, see note.) In the short term, this may have a positive impact on feelings of satiety and, down the road, perhaps even a lower risk for developing metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Cherries are a reliable source of vitamin C, with about 18 percent of the daily value in a cup serving, per data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Among the several functions that vitamin C plays in the body, two important ones are helping create a variety of neurotransmitters and acting as an antioxidant to limit oxidative cell damage that may help trim the risk for several chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- 1 cup steel-cut oats or 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats*
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups pitted frozen cherries
- 2 tsp honey
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/3 cup low-fat or plain dairy-free milk
- 2 oz dark chocolate, about 70 percent cocoa, chopped
- 1/3 chopped cup walnuts
- Place oats, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Add 3 cups of water. Bring to a slight boil, immediately turn off heat, and let oats soak overnight, covered.
- To make the cherry sauce, in a small saucepan, bring cherries, honey, remaining cinnamon, lemon zest, and ½ cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cherries start to break down, about 5 minutes. Smash about half of the cherries with the back of a fork. Stir in almond extract and cornstarch and simmer 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Before serving, reheat oats in the saucepan over medium-low heat with milk, stirring occasionally, until warmed through and creamy, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in chocolate until you have chocolate streaks running through the oatmeal. Serve topped with warm cherry sauce and walnuts.
* Note: If using old-fashioned oats, place 3 cups water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Add oats, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then follow remaining steps.
Nutrition per serving: 387 calories, 14g total fat (3.5g saturated fat), 10g protein, 59g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 22g sugar (9g added sugar), 85mg sodium