Smart Choices Review: Crockpot Oatmeal

I Love Oatmeal! Yes it is weird but I really do–hot, cold, cookies, breads or whatever, it just has the power to draw me in.

Imagine when I saw this recipe from The Yummy Life!!   It combines Oatmeal and Pumpkin and its pretty much a leave it alone recipe, perfect!

I did make some minor changes, just for preferences, and I used the double boiler method since I had originally planned to do this overnight so I wanted to see how long it should actually cook to avoid drying it out.

Crockpot Oatmeal and Pumpkin Bake

1 3/4 cup 1% milk ( or milk of your choice)

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup steel cut oats (NOT old fashioned or quick)

1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or sweetener of choice)

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix, unsweetened)

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used my homemade kind)

1 tsp pure Vanilla extract

2 Tbs pumpkin pie spice (it seems like a lot but it isn’t)

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 Tbs ground flax meal (seeds)

 My suggestion is to combine all dry ingredients together first then add the moist ones–I think the pumpkin pie spice would blend in easier this way–mine took a bit of whisking to get it off the top of the milk/water. If you are using the  Crockpot/slow cooker directly spray with non-stick spray just for easier clean up–my bowl  cleaned up really easy.* I put my recipe into a Corningware oval bowl and put it inside the Crockpot. I had put in water before I started mixing the ingredients to start heating it on high. When I put the bowl in I had to add just a bit more water to get it to come  halfway up the side of the Corningware one. Cover and walk away after you turn it back to low heat. Mine was done in about 4 hours , it might take less if you don’t use the chia seeds (they are really good absorbers). Cooked through but still moist.

You can top it with many options at this point–I added just a drizzle of maple syrup and some chopped walnuts but I could see adding brown sugar or honey as a sweetener or almonds for a bit of crunch.

Yes its THAT good!

And it warms up great the next day! I had put it in my Mason jars and it the fridge overnight. I warmed it for about 45 seconds , added just a touch of milk, stirred and heated for another 30 seconds (this was for about a 1 cup portion). I added a drizzle of maple syrup…..delicious second round.

Review: Definitely worth making again! If I did it overnight I would probably use a ‘delay timer’  so it turned on it the night rather than get up early. I also work night shifts so it would actually be perfect to set up when I get home and have ready to go when I get up. Hey–that’s a great idea!

*for easy clean-up–if you use the double boiler method, and you put the oatmeal away in portions, use the hot water in the crockpot to clean up–just dump it in the second bowl and it cleans up super easy!

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Peanut Butter–the Smart Choice review

I love peanut butter!! It truly is one of my go to foods and comes with me to work and on vacations–really!

Why do I like peanut butter? Despite having some fat (about 72% in ratio to protein and carbs for a regular one) it is primarily healthy fat. It  has a decent amount of protein (about 4 grams/Tbs) as well as some important vitamins and minerals;Vitamin E, niacin & folic acid and magnesium. When pared with a whole grain bread it fills you up for a while which helps slow down the jump in glucose levels and keep you ‘steady’  until your next meal.

According to this Livestrong article “Peanut butter is rich in mono and poly-unsaturated fats, which are the “good,” cholesterol lowering fats. While these fats have heart-protective benefits, they also are what make peanut butter a high calorie food. So, as with most delicious foods, moderation is key. A general guideline is to try to limit yourself to 2 tbsp, which weighs in at about 180 calories.”

But the confusing thing is that there are so many “peanut butters” to choose from: regular, “Natural”, dehydrated (aka peanut flour), flavored, reduced fat….you get the idea. Well, I have tried a few and I am happy to share with you  what I have found.

OK– starting with the Basics

Skippy Natural

OK, maybe just a little bit basic. “Natural” in that there are no artificial ingredients, but more than just peanuts. It is pretty much your basic full fat, creamy peanut butter. “No need to stir”–generally but not always. Its a good basic, maybe just a little on the sweet side but very spreadable and does not rip your bread apart. Melts really easy on toasted breads.  This is great for use in baking since it blends and melts so nicely when combined with baking ingredients.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 2 Tbsp (32 g)
Servings Per Container 13
Amount Per Serving
Calories 190
Calories From Fat 140
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 150mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 4%
Vitamin E 10%
Niacin 20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
INGREDIENTS: ROASTED PEANUTS, SUGAR, PALM OIL, SALT.
Naturally More

OK–this is really a natural PB–you really do need to stir this one! I probably stirred this for about 5 minutes until it was fully combined.  You can really taste the peanut flavor! It was also like old fashioned peanut butter–it sticks to the roof of your mouth!  Although PB normally has good fats the addition of the flax seeds adds a bit more nutrition. I like flax seeds, just not whole ones. I think if they were ground I would’ve liked it better.  It did spread easy and melted nicely without the runny-ness of the Skippy  Natural.

Ingredients are a little more than just peanuts also: soy protein, flax seeds, evaporated cane sugar, salt and molasses.

Update: After I tried this I put it in the ‘fridge (optional) upside down…I really like it now!! Very creamy texture with the oil fully incorporated. I also figured out a way to deal with the whole flax seeds–use chia jam!

Next–Dehydrated, Reduced Fat and Powdered Peanut “Butter”

PB2 and PB2 Chocolate

This is probably the easiest to use for adding into recipes, smoothies, oatmeals. It is a dehydrated peanut butter, essentially a peanut flour. It has about 85% less fat than peanut butter so it is a great option for those looking to watch calories without loosing the option of having peanut butter. You can rehydrate it to use as a spread but I have just added it to things at this point. It does add the PB flavor to what it is added to without having the ‘gloppy-ness’ when you add it to a smoothie. It has become something I add to all my fridge oatmeals for added protein and taste.

Nutrition Facts

PB2: Powdered Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

Roasted peanuts, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 13

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1.5 g 3%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat < 0.01 g
  • Cholesterol < 0.01 mg 0%
  • Sodium 94 mg 4%
  • Total carbohydrate 5 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 2 g 8%
  • Sugars 1 g
  • Protein 5 g
  • Vitamin A < 1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 0%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate PB2

Ingredients:

Roasted peanuts, cocoa powder, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 10

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1 g 1.5%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium 70 mg 3%
  • Total carbohydrate 6 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 1 g 4%
  • Sugars 3 g
  • Protein 4 g
  • Vitamin A <1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Better’n Peanut Butter

I’ve had this one in both the dehydrated and the spread form. The spread form has a slightly gritty texture but you get used to it easily. It is not as ‘peanutty’ as I would like but it spreads well and melts nicely on toasted breads without being runny. It has less fat than the traditional so I can understand the difference in taste. Right now, I use this one almost every day. As you can see it it not really a true peanut butter based on the other ingredients.

  • 85% Less Fat
  • 40% Less Calories
  • No Cholesterol
  • No Preservatives
  • No Refined Sugars
  • Natural Soy Lecithin
  • Non GMO Peanuts
Regular Creamy
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories

100
Calories from Fat

18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

2.0g
3%
Sodium

190mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates

13.0g
4%
Sugars

2.0g
Protein

4.0g
Fiber

2.0g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Low Sodium

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories

100
Calories from Fat

22
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

2g
4%
Sodium

95mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates

13.0g
4%
Sugars

2.0g
Protein

4.0g
Fiber

2.0g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Ingredients: PEANUTS (AS DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR AND NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER), TAPIOCA SYRUP, PURE WATER, DEHYDRATED CANE JUICE, RICE SYRUP, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, SOY FLOUR, SALT, TAPIOCA STARCH, NATURAL FOOD FLAVORS, PAPRIKA & ANNATO, CALCIUM CARBONATE, LECITHIN, VITAMINS E & C (ANTIOXIDANTS).
Flavored Peanut Butters and Nut Butters
 Peanut Butter and Co
These are actually my daughters and I have tried them but they are generally too sweet for my taste. I have found as I have gotten older that I just don’t like (or tolerate) the high sweetness. That being said, the PB& Co has a variety of flavors: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Maple, White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Honey and Spicy to name a few. They are nice for a change of pace but I see them as a treat more than a staple in my life. You can find all the nutrition data here, but these are an example. The Speculoos Cookie Butter is just that–ground up cookies and blended to be spreadable.
https://i0.wp.com/ilovepeanutbutter.com/media/nutritional/17010001_nutr.gif

https://i0.wp.com/ilovepeanutbutter.com/media/nutritional/17010006_nutr.gif

and who can forget Nutella? Nutella is a Hazel nut based spead with cocoa. It is very rich and I really do view this as a treat rather than something to eat daily. It is very thick and does spread nicely. Very chocoaltey taste, you really can’t taste the hazel nuts at all. Still, for once in a while…its pretty good.

https://i0.wp.com/www.nutellausa.com/images/nutritionfacts2.gif

I tried to copy the ingredients but it was blocked but the first one is ….sugar.

SO–what to do with all these choices?  Which is the best for you, what tastes best, what to buy? Alas, it really is highly personal and depends on your needs and dietary restrictions.  I would say to try a few and see what you like. I will continue to use my PB2 on a regular basis and probably vary the rest based on what I am using it for–baking or eating or adding it to a smoothie/oatmeal.

All the nutrition facts came directly from the individual sites. The images are my own.

Can you recommend any of these or can you suggest another brand or version?