Saturday, April 12, 2008

The 7-cent Breakfast

I've started attending a weekly breastfeeding support group. It's really just a group of women who meet at the hospital and have access to a baby scale and some great advice from some experienced and comforting lactation consultants. It's been good meeting other women -- most of whom will also be returning to work soon. And I love the group leader. At last week's meeting, I asked her what I should do to treat my mastitis, and she told me to "leave here and go straight to bed." I like the way she thinks.

At the meeting, I'm learning about foods that are supposed to produce more milk. Weird things like pineapple and oatmeal. Who would have guessed? I love oatmeal, but have gotten out of the habit of eating it because I get distracted while I'm cooking it on the stove in the morning, and it always boils over when I try cooking it in the microwave. But the leader suggested a really simply way to make it in the morning, and I've been eating it every morning now.

In a big (4-cup) Pyrex measuring cup, add half a cup slow-cooking oats to 1 cup of water. Microwave it for about 2 minutes (my microwave is slow, so I do 2 minutes, 20 seconds). It's ready.

For years I've been refilling an old Quaker Oats container with oats I buy in bulk from a local health food store. The bulk oats are 70 cents for non-organic, and $1.30 for organic. There didn't used to be such a price disparity between the two varieties, and at my last trip, I went cheap and bought the non-organic. Because a pound of oats yields ten breakfasts worth of oatmeal, a bowl is 7 cents. Extras like dried fruit, nuts, and honey obviously increase the cost, but you'd have to add a lot of extras to get up to a $3 Starbucks muffin.

I have been adding a couple Tablespoons of raisins every morning, which, at the cheapest consistent price I can get them, adds another 8 cents or so. So it's 15 cents for breakfast. Not too shabby.

If you want to try your oatmeal cold with milk, here's my favorite granola recipe. It's largely from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook with minor tweaks. The author does everything bigger than life, so the quantities I use are cut in half from the book.

Really Good Granola

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
Up to 2 cups dried fruit, like raisins, cranberries, figs, or apricots (clean out your pantry, and cut any large fruit into the size of a raisin)
Up to 1/2 cup other nuts, like sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a bowl. In another boil, mix together the oil and honey. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and stir to coat the oats. Pour everything onto a 9-by-13 baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, and being sure that the oats aren't burning. The granola will be a lovely golden brown color when it's ready.

After the granola has cooled, add the dried fruit and additional nuts, and you're ready for breakfast.

This makes a great gift packed into quart, or even pint, canning jars.

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