Good morning!  I took some time on Friday (when I was planning to post on my blog) to rest and handle the emotional consequences of selling my home of 16 years.  It’s funny.  I didn’t think it would hit me that hard, but I was pretty emotional and will admit to tears here and there this past week.

I talked about it in my YouTube Video here ====> Give Yourself a Break Sometimes

Today, like Friday, I wanted something warm and comforting for breakfast.  One of our go-to breakfasts is hot oatmeal or cream of wheat.  Both Bruce and I enjoy either or, so we make it often.  Today, he was sleeping in, so I cooked, but he will often let the dogs outside, bring iced coffee to my bedside, then make breakfast for the two of us.  When he cooks, all I have to do is add whatever ingredients I want to make mine extra special.  (He always likes his plain with sugar and milk.) When I cook, I tend to spice things up WHILE I am cooking.  More on that in a minute…

I like Quaker Oats, but Bob’s Red Mill Oats are great, too.  I also like Steel Cut or Irish Oats on occasion.  Of course, you can also make Farina (Cream of Wheat) in just a few minutes if you prefer a silkier hot breakfast bowl.  Neither of us had tried Cream of Wheat in years, since we were kids really, but we decided to see if we both still enjoyed it and sure enough it’s a huge hit for both of us in the morning.  I add the same types of ingredients to spice it up as I do for oatmeal.

For either oatmeal or cream of wheat, there are a few things you can do to make it special while cooking.  You can substitute half or all of the water with a nut milk.  If you do, watch it closely so it doesn’t burn, and also add a bit more milk than you would water.  I also always put a pinch of salt in.  If I am making Farina, I occasionally add a TBSP of sugar for two servings, when my sweet tooth is talking to me.  I also love to add a bit of vanilla extract to the mix.  I think it gives a lovely, homey feeling to the pot.  I would add cinnamon while I make it, but Bruce hates it, so I add it afterwards.  If your family would enjoy it, add it while cooking.  I think it blends better that way.  Look at this pot of yummy goodness cooking up:

These are the type of ingredients I keep in my pantry as toppings for oatmeal, cream of wheat, ice cream, yogurt, and fruit salad.

So, let’s talk about how to make oatmeal and cream of wheat extra special, rather than just a bowl of sugary blandness.  I usually do not add sugar to my oatmeal, with a few exceptions here or there of course.  For the most part, I add flavor, texture, and sweetness with berries, nuts, seeds, and sometimes chocolate syrup.  Oh, yeah, baby!  Here are a few of my favorite breakfast bowls from the last few months:

I called this one “Banana Split”.  On top of my oatmeal, I added freshly sliced strawberries and bananas, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds.  Over that I added a drizzle of vegan chocolate syrup and a dollop of coco-whip.  It was amazing.  I also used these toppings over soy yogurt and almond ice cream that week.  🙂

This “Chunky Monkey” bowl combined bananas and peanut butter (a favorite combo of mine).  Then I added pistachios and chia seeds and topped it off with dried cranberries.  Om nom nom.

My “Spiced Apple” bowl has a combination of diced apples, raisins, peanut butter, cinnamon, and Vanilla Silk creamer over the top.  I can’t recommend this one highly enough.  It was amazing.

If I am every worried that I won’t use my berries in time, I throw them in the freezer.  That way I can add them to oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes or muffins later and they won’t go to waste. This bowl of farina helped me use up some of my frozen blueberries.  I added pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds.  I love the blue and green colors together.

I like the process of making my breakfast bowls look pretty.  This morning, I decided a “Berry Mandala” was what I needed.  I added nuts and seeds and some cacao nibs.  It looked beautiful both before and after I stirred it up.  I also added a little Vanilla Silk creamer to this one, because I wanted extra gooeyness (that’s a word, right?).

Last but not least, let’s admit that some mornings, you just want a quick hot bowl and don’t have time to stand over a pot for 5 minutes.  It’s perfectly okay to make instant oatmeal sometimes.  It may not be pretty, but it is still tasty and comforting. We’ll call this one the “Ugly Duckling”.

Do you have any favorite toppings for your hot breakfast bowls? I love trying new things!