– Vanilla Cinnamon Slow Cooker Breakfast Porridge with Cranberries, Coconut, and Almonds –
We’re finally there, or rather here–the mornings in which I poke a single toe out from under my plush down comforter, a canary in the coal mine to test the ambient temperature of the room. My cute little Victorian apartment is not without its drawbacks, some of which are thin, wavy glass windows and a distinct lack of insulation. My modest gas heater is in the living room. Which is a whole two rooms away. Overnight, my bedroom transforms from a warm, glowing sanctuary of Asian carpets and red velvet curtains to a glittering, sun-filled arctic tundra. The sunlight teases, though. It sparkles but does not warm. There are some mornings I feel like this.
After lingering in bed an extra fifteen minutes or so, the workday pokes me with a stick while the clock beside my bed scolds for the indulgence. First one leg and then the other slip out, unceremoniously booted out into the cold before they’re ready, arms reaching for the comfort of my muppety bathrobe and something, anything, to cover my legs. The next hour or so flutters by in the standard American morning routine. Shower-dress-hair-teethbrushing. I’ve found that running my hands under hot water warms every inch of my body, a trick of the nervous system that takes the edge off any sudden cold spell.
Then my morning scampers to a stop. Many days I default to a green smoothie for breakfast, but if I’ve been smart, I sit down to my breakfast, hot and waiting, because I had the foresight to plan it out the night before; an incredibly healthy, decadent porridge of whole grain cereal, almonds, coconut, and dried cranberries, sending whispers of cinnamon and vanilla drift through the house–a subtle warmth reserved for only your sense of smell. I’m bundled up with my layers and fuzzy socks, ready to heave myself out into the cold. But I’ve got a few minutes left to savor these first novel licks of autumn.
This breakfast porridge can be made from any of your favorite hot cereals. Some days I want steel-cut oats, and others I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal (which is gluten-free, by the way). I’ve made this recipe with quinoa flakes, buckwheat, and Cream of Wheat. They’re all hearty, they’re all comforting. In this recipe I’m using steel-cut oats, because it’s easy to explain, but feel free to substitute the favorite hot cereal of your choice. Just make sure to use whatever liquid measurements your cereal asks for, and increase that amount by 25% to accommodate the other goodies you’re adding. Note: rolled and quick-cook oats may be too fragile for this method, so I’d recommend using something more substantial and ideally in its whole form.
This breakfast porridge is meant to be put together the night before so it’s ready when you wake up. It uses a water-bath method to keep your porridge from drying out overnight. You’ll need a large 8-quart slow cooker and a bowl that will fit inside of the slow cooker, which will hold your cereal.
If your Crock Pot doesn’t have a time, like mine does not, I recommend this simple little timer meant for turning on and off your lights.
Note: rolled and quick-cook oats may be too fragile for this method, so I'd recommend using something more substantial and ideally in its whole form.
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk (soy, dairy, almond milk all work fine)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Find a deep glass, metal, or ceramic bowl that will fit comfortable into your slow cooker. Into the bowl pour the oats, coconut, almonds, cranberries, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well until all is coated with cinnamon.
- Into the bowl pour the milk, water, and vanilla. Stir well.
- Fill your slow cooker with 2-inches of water. Gently set the bowl into the water bath, making sure that there is plenty of room between the edge of the bowl and the surface of the water. Cover the slow cooker and set it to "LOW." Allow to cook for 6 to 8 hours.
- **Another alternate method for smaller Crock Pots that won't fit a water bath and don't have a LOW setting: Get a timer, like the kind you use to turn your lights on and off. Pour the ingredients for the cereal directly into the Crock Pot. Cover the Crock Pot and plug it into the timer. Set the timer to turn on 2 hours before you wake up, and then set it to shut itself off right when you get out of bed. Your cereal will be piping hot and ready to go, with nary a scorched bit to be seen. If you're using this method, I don't recommend allowing it to cook more than two hours, or your cereal will dry out and stick to the bottom.