Secret Recipe: Dad's Oatmeal

As far back as I can remember, every Sunday morning at home started with a bowl of Dad’s oatmeal (which he actually prefers to call “Gruel“).  The rest of the week, Mom was the family chef, while Dad specialized in maintenance & repairs around the house.  However, Sunday mornings always started with Dad at the stove.

I no longer live near my parents, but Dad still makes his Oatmeal every Sunday. Whenever we visit each other, he always whips up at least one batch for me, regardless of the day of the week.

Dad making Oatmeal in my Chicago apartment


For years, I’ve been asking Dad for his recipe, but it’s never been written down… until now! As one of the Best-Kinds-of-Presents, he took measurements and notes last time he made a batch, and sent me his no-longer-secret Recipe  in time for my Birthday this year!  (Actually, I should say our Birthday, since my Dad and I have the same Birthday!)

Mine & Dad's Birthday - 10 years ago! (Check out my old-school gift: a 12-inch TV with VCR)


Dad uses Steel-Cut Oats in his recipe.  Not only do steel-cut oats have a nice, hearty texture, they are also the least-processed type of Oats (rolled-oats often have the bran removed or are pressure-cooked or processed in some fashion).

One of the coolest things about Dad’s recipe is that it’s more like a secret formula to create hundreds of variations of delicious oatmeal.  While he always uses an Apple, a Banana, and some Apple Cider, the rest of the Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and juice can be swapped out (or extra added) based on what you have on hand.  In fact, in all the decades Dad has been making Oatmeal, he swears he’s never made the exact same batch twice.  Fresh Cranberries are responsible for the hot-pink batch below.  Peaches, Strawberries, Dried Apricots, and Almonds have also been known to make regular appearances.  And cranberry juice or pomegranate juice often fill in for half of the cider.

This is a great recipe for cleaning out the refrigerator!



So that I’ll be thinking of Dad every day during our birthday-week, I made a huge double-batch this weekend that I’ll be bringing to work for breakfast each day.

For the double-batch I made, I followed Dad’s recipe almost exactly, however, I had some Farmer’s Market Peaches on hand that were pretty bruised up and needed to be eaten right away.  I added these in addition to the rest of the ingredients on his list.


Throughout cooking, the bananas almost completely disintegrate, lending a natural sweetness to every bite.

The smell of simmering cider, apples, and cinnamon made my place smell like Autumn!  

At the last 2 minutes of cooking, I threw in the Peaches along with the Blueberries & Walnuts, instantly turning the pot into a showcase of Summer’s bounty.

As Dad always does, I then topped off my bowl with some more blueberries and a splash of Milk (actually, Almond Milk for me!)

Good Gruel, Dad!  Happy Birthday, and I Love You!!!


Dad’s Oatmeal

(Makes 2 very large or 4 small servings)


1 cup steel cut oats (Bob’s Red Mill recommended)
1-3/4 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice (tip: replace up to half the apple cider/juice with your favorite juice i.e. cranberry, pomegranate, etc)
1 apple, diced (Granny Smith’s are my favorite)
1 ripe banana, sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries 
1/4-1/2 cups mixed nuts, chopped (almonds & walnuts)
2 heaping tablespoons raisins 
2 heaping tablespoons dried cranberries 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 shakes allspice
1 shake ground clove

(Note: to recreate my bowl pictured above, also add 1 diced peach to the pot along with the blueberries)


Bring water and juice to boil in medium saucepan. Set temperature to keep it simmering.

Add the steel cut oats, apple, banana, raisins, dried cranberries, and spices. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Add nuts and blueberries for the last 2 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Top with some uncooked blueberries and your favorite Milk (I use Almond Milk)

Note: Any mixture of nuts and fruit– dried or fresh, can be used according to season and availability,
such as dried apricots, prunes, fresh peaches, nectarines, strawberries, etc. It always tastes great no
matter what fruit is used!

I’d love to hear from you!

What recipes are ‘famous’ in your family?

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Everyday Vegan Girl