Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal
To say that I’m “not a morning person” would be a gross understatement. In fact, I actually terrify myself in the early hours of the am. It’s not so much the way I look (although that also upsets me), it’s more that my brain only functions at approximately 2% of its genius(?) potential for the first half hour that I’m awake. As you can imagine, this has many unfortunate consequences. Let’s discuss, shall we?
I’m roused each weekday at 7am by the excruciating sound of my iPhone alarm. I then burrito myself in the covers (my roommate has already left for work) and press snooze somewhere between two and eleven times. When I feel sufficiently guilty about the snoozing, I crawl out of bed and stumble to the kitchen. It is not uncommon to stub multiple toes or knock over furniture on the way like a (very pretty and petite) elephant in a china shop.
Once I get to the kitchen, I commence coffee making. I know it’s going to be a good day if I have actual coffee filters (I’m regularly forced to use paper towels à la Reality Bites) and do not get coffee grounds anywhere except in the coffee maker itself. While the coffee is brewing, I prep breakfast. Occasionally there are overnight oats or chia pudding in the fridge, but most mornings I throw together some sort of yogurt situation with fruit and chia seeds (because chia seeds are miraculous).
My body feels like it’s filled with cement while I perform these tasks.
I then make my way back to bed with coffee and breakfast in hand to do social media hour and get crumbs in the sheets. (This makes Logan very angry, despite my repeated explanations that early morning Serena is not playing with a full deck and cannot be held responsible for her behavior or spilling habits. She’s basically blackout.) Oh, and my entire “routine” is performed wearing nothing but my retainers, which is why I will never do reality TV.
Anyhoo, mornings are clearly the absolute worst part of my day, and they’re bound to get even more painful with the onset of colder, darker weather. That’s why I made Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal. It’s going to save me.
I’ve always been intrigued by slow cooker oatmeal, but for one reason or another, I’ve never taken the plunge. Fortunately (for all of us), buying oats to make energy balls a couple weeks ago reminded me of the idea, and on Tuesday night, I finally gave it a go. I had a bushel of honeycrisp apples chillaxing on my counter, so a couple of those bad boys went into the slow cooker with some steel cut oats, warming spices, almond milk, coconut oil, hemp seeds and a dash of vanilla. I gave everything a stir, put the lid on, and set the timer for 7 hours. Then I went to bed.
When I emerged from my blanket burrito the next morning, I was confused. Something was different. It took me a while to realize that it was the air…
The entire apartment was perfumed with the sweet, sweet scent of cinnamon and apples, and I felt like I was inside a pie. (Like I said, my morning brain worries me.) It took me several minutes to remember that I had made slow cooker oatmeal, but as soon as I did, I was Logan-style PSYCHED.
I practically skipped to the kitchen, and when I lifted the lid on the slow cooker, I was greeted with a glorious cloud of apple pie steam (booyah). Sadly, what I saw inside wasn’t quite what I’d imagined. The suspended apples were sort of shriveled and a little scary looking, and the whole shebang was very dark around the edges. I figured I had a failed experiment on my hands (things that sound too good to be true usually are), but I decided to stir things up and see what happened…
MAGIC. Once stirred, the oats became instantly creamy and perfect, and the browned bits around the edges of the slow cooker were actually a delightful taste treat. Not unlike the chewy corner pieces of a baked good, they added amazing texture to the oatmeal, which I piled into a bowl and topped with a handful of chopped pecans, a drizzle of maple syrup and extra cinnamon.
Dear God, it was epic. It tasted like apple pie and fall happiness, and I was very sad to be naked and alone in this moment of triumph.
Eating something that tastes like apple pie before 8am is thrilling, duh, but it’s the health benefits of this vegan (and gluten-free!) slow cooker oatmeal that really have me amped. First of all, a serving of steel cut oats packs 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and only 150 calories. And adding fiber and antioxidant-rich apples, heart healthy coconut oil, and super food hemp seeds into the mix guarantees that you’ll be full and energized until lunch rolls around. (You should have seen me during yesterday’s social media hour. Mind-blowing productivity!)
The recipe makes four generous servings, which is fantastic news, since leftovers keep perfectly in the fridge and are easily re-heated with a splash of almond milk throughout the week. You could even refrigerate the oatmeal in individually portioned mason jars, throw one in your bag in the morning, and microwave it when you get to work for a sassy desk breakfast. Your cubicle/fancy office will smell like apple pie. EVERYONE LOVES PIE.
Please don’t hesitate to use this oatmeal recipe as a base and get weird with different flavor combinations, friends! I’m thinking a banana-nut version would be bomb, as would pumpkin pie, blueberry-coconut, or maybe some sort of almond butter (with chocolate chips on top?). Variety is the spice of life.
Blogger’s Note: If you’re really digging the idea of this oatmeal but don’t happen to own a slow cooker, relax, I’ve got you covered. Simply put all the ingredients in a Dutch oven or saucepan and pop them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, cook the oats on the stovetop for 7-10 minutes. BOOM.
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal: (Serves 4)
1 cup gluten-free STEEL-CUT OATS (Do NOT use quick-cooking or rolled oats, they will disintegrate!)
2 large apples (or 3 small), peeled, cored and chopped into roughly ¾-inch pieces
1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
2½ cups water
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (You can also use flaxseeds if you prefer.)
2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
For serving: (optional)
Maple syrup or brown sugar
Preparing your Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal:
-Start by greasing your slow cooker. I rubbed the inside of mine with a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, but you can use cooking spray if you prefer. (Please do not skip this step, people, or you will end up with a literal hot mess on your hands.)
-Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Give everything a quick stir.
-Give the oatmeal a good stir, making sure to get all the delicious crusty bits off the sides of the slow cooker (they looks scary, but taste delicious). Spoon the oats into bowls and serve warm. I like to get some chopped pecans and extra maple syrup involved…
*Oatmeal can be refrigerated in an airtight container to be eaten throughout the week! Just stir in a little almond milk (or milk of your choice) and re-heat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Bing bang boom.
I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Fall Fest this week. For more epic slow cooker recipes, check out the blogs below.
Feed Me Phoebe: Moroccan Lamb Chili with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes and Kale
The Lemon Bowl: Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetables with Cinnamon and Garlic
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Slow Cooker Chicken Vegetable Stew with Rosemary, Thyme and Sage
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Slow Cooker Cassoulet
Devour: Slow-Cooked Meals from Breakfast through Dessert
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Slow-Cooker New Mexican Vegetable Chowder
Red or Green: Slow Cooker Red Beans, Vegetables & Rice
The Cultural Dish: Slow-Cooker Beef Stew
Taste with the Eyes: Elegant Braised Leeks
FN Dish: 6 Desserts to Cook Low and Slow
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