Day 60–Steel Cut Oats to Fuel a Body

Traditional 28-ounce tin of McCann's Steel Cut...

I love to run. And that’s really pretty funny because I completely stink at it.

Growing up, I never ran and wasn’t even athletic. I was the “creative” one, and somehow that excused me from participating in sports. When I was about 30, a friend loaned me a book that changed how I viewed running. The book was “The Courage to Start,” and it detailed the progress of John Bingham from heavy, smoking, drinking, middle age dude to svelte, non-smoking, still slow-as-molasses runner. I wasn’t in terrible shape when I started running, but it was comforting to have someone tell me it was ok to be the penguin, not the gazelle.

It sounds dense now, but it never occurred to me that you could be athletic and not be consumed with competition. Or with being super fast. And maybe you get out and run every day and you are still last in every race. What is important is that you cross the finish line with a smile on your face. Because at the end of it all, you had a great day. I loved that book, and it encouraged me to find a love of running and an appreciation for what my body can do and not be critical of what it can’t. I will never be a gazelle, but I can be the penguin who thanks each and every child handing me water during the race. Even if the pace car is bumping me in the behind (really, this happened).

Running makes me hungry, and in the spring when I get back outside to run, I become voracious. But if I eat what I feel like eating, I will be way less of a gazelle and ultimately the pace car may be running over me. One of my favorite fill ‘er up foods is steel cut oatmeal.  If you haven’t tried steel cut oats and you think you don’t like oatmeal, I’d encourage you to try it. It’s a whole different animal from those paper packets of highly sugared, processed oats. Steel cut oats are very high in fiber, higher in protein and high in iron. In fact, I don’t know why Popeye wasn’t eating oats, because they have more iron than spinach!

Steel cut oats take longer to make (about 30 minutes) and that can be daunting when you’re hungry and tired. They are, however, a great make-ahead dish. I like to make a batch, pop it in the fridge and heat up single servings in the microwave as I need it. Also, steel cut oats can be made in a crock pot overnight, so you’ll have hot oatmeal first thing in the morning. Easy peasy.

Think oats are boring? Add dried cranberries or any other dried fruit and maybe even a tablespoon of brown sugar. Or maple syrup. Or chopped nuts. My favorite is dried cranberry, pecan and brown sugar. The trick is to keep the sugar to a minimum.

So fuel up, get outside and have fun! Just watch out for the pace cars.

Steel Cut Oatmeal (stovetop)

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 4 c. water
  • dried cranberries, chopped pecans, brown sugar, whatever makes you happy
  1. Combine oats and water in a small pot and heat to boiling.
  2. Boil oats for about 1 minute and turn the heat down to medium. Stir.
  3. Cook oats on medium for about 30 minutes or until it is very thick like porridge. Stir frequently to keep from sticking to pot.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.

Steel Cut Oatmeal (crock pot)

Note: you will need to experiment with your slow cooker to see what setting works best. For mine, the low setting was still too high, but the “keep warm” setting works like a charm.

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. milk or cream
  1. Add all ingredients into crock pot.
  2. Cover and heat on low or warm.
  3. Cook for 7-8 hours
  4. Ladle into bowls and add your favorite toppings
Leave a comment


  1. Great idea to cook the oatmeal overnight in a slow cooker – how convenient!

  2. Do you know if you can substitute steel-cut oats for regular rolled oats (not quick-cooking) in recipes? For instance, I saw this one on pinterest today and thought it might be worth trying:

  3. I’ve never made oatmeal in the crockpot! Smmmart! I eat steel cut oatmeal all. the. time. Also maybe I should read this book, because I hate running. I try to like it, but really I hate it. I envy you 🙂

  4. Love the gazelle/penguin analogy. My husband always laughs at me when I run. He says it is very “inefficient” as he starts flailing arms and legs… He is not allowed to run with me.

    • Yes, if I’m going to run at all, I do not accept critiques of my style! John Bingham used to sell t-shirts with the slogan on the back “I’m slow. I know. Get over it.” Always meant to order one!

      Sent from my iPhone

  5. tuckarella

     /  March 1, 2012

    Mmm, I love oats! Now I want a crockpot for the best make ahead breakfast ever!

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