Homemade with Heinen’s | “See You at Oatmeal”

5 mins read
John Kelly, jpk.media

If happiness is homemade then we’ve got a new recipe to help us all cook up a little more of it. Together with Heinen’s Grocery, we’ll be sharing Homemade with Heinen’s, a new series of favorite family recipes prepared with love at homes throughout Barrington. We’re starting with soul-warming, body-fueling breakfast in a bowl. Homemade steel-cut oats topped a million different ways are a morning staple for John Kelly, father, foodie and the founder of jpk.media.

John is a Chicago area writer and photographer in the business of telling stories. Today he’s telling us how he loves to start his family’s day in a healthy way. “I’ve been eating steel-cut oats almost daily for at least a decade, and I’ve got quite an arsenal of ways to keep it interesting. I also make a homemade cold cereal from rolled oats and my kids love it.” They’re so delicious, John says his daughter goes to sleep dreaming about breakfast! Thanks, John, for sharing one of your family’s favorites, Homemade with Heinen’s…

“See You at Oatmeal” by John Kelly, jpk.media

When it comes to the American breakfast—cheesy omelets, syrup-soaked pancakes, sausage with biscuits and gravy—there may be no dish that fails to inspire the tastebuds more universally than oatmeal. Boredom in a bowl, usually banished to the back of the menu, along with the muesli and egg white scramble.

And yet, for the past decade my wife and I have started most mornings with steel-cut oats, enthusiastically. It started as a health kick but quickly became a ritual. I fell in love with their chewy texture and versatility. Fresh strawberries and a splash of cream in the summer; maple syrup and butter when the mornings turned chilly. A tablespoon of nut butter and some toasted coconut could transform yesterday’s breakfast into something entirely new.

Three thousand or so bowls later, we’re far from fed up. In fact, now we’re passing on our enthusiasm for oats to the next generation.

Our daughter, never shy to share her verdict about a meal, has complained not once about her daily porridge, which is usually topped with a mélange of berries and chopped nuts and a ladleful of warm milk and cinnamon. From her crib at age two, as we’d turn off her light and say goodnight, she’d often reply, “See you at oatmeal!”

As a dad, that gave me such satisfaction. I want my children to crave nutritious food, and oatmeal certainly fits the bill. Low in calories, high in fiber, oatmeal is reputed to offer a number of health benefits, from improving digestion and stabilizing blood sugar to lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Heinen’s carries my favorite brand: Bob’s Red Mill. I prefer steel cut to rolled oats, and I recommend against instant oats, which are presteamed to speed cooking and have a higher glycemic index. Besides, they get mushy.

Steel-cut oatmeal does take time. Measuring, boiling, simmering, stirring—twenty minutes or more. For me, it’s a chance to contemplate the day ahead while the house is quiet. An overnight soak in water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar will reduce the cook time and also make the oats easier to digest, and so more nutritious.

Creativity is the key to avoiding oatmeal burnout. Luckily there are plenty of oatmeal evangelists like me, so an Internet search will quickly generate a month’s worth of recipes. By now I have developed a sixth sense for choosing ingredients, so I rely less on recipes and more on intuition and what’s available in my kitchen. Here are a handful of preparations that I find myself returning to again and again.


I use Bob’s Red Mill organic steel-cut oats and follow the instructions: 3 cups water to 1 cup oats, simmered 15-20 minutes. I recommend one modification: start by toasting your oats. Heat your pot over a medium flame, add the oats, then stir for a few minutes until they get toasty and aromatic. Use a tablespoon of butter for richer flavor. Feel free to add your cinnamon or spice of choice—nutmeg, cardamom, and Chinese five spice are all great—for the last 30 seconds to make your house smell wonderful. Once toasted, carefully add hot water from your kettle and cook as instructed. For extra protein, add a quarter cup of rinsed quinoa. (serves 3-4)

Here are a few serving ideas. Adjust the toppings to taste.

  • oats | blueberries | cinnamon | allspice | warm milk | maple syrup
  • oats | banana | plain yogurt | honey | chia seeds | chopped almonds
  • oats | farro | toasted walnuts | ricotta cheese | prunes simmered in maple syrup
  • oats | almond butter | banana | toasted coconut | pumpkin seeds | yogurt
  • oats | butter | salt and pepper | scrambled eggs on the side
  • oats | poached or hard-boiled egg | steamed kale | avocado | toasted sesame seeds | broth of mirin, soy, and sesame oil

Homemade Cereal

  • 3.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped nuts and/or seeds of choice
  • 1⁄2 cup dried fruit of choice
  • 1⁄4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or other spice
  • pinch of salt
  • store in a mason jar in the fridge, serve with milk and berries

While we enjoy starting the day on a healthy note, we also eat our share of those syrup-soaked pancakes, cheesy omelets, and sausage. Welcome indulgences, but we rarely go more than a day without returning to our bowl of whole grains.

My daughter, now three, has recently gone on a cold cereal kick. We make it from scratch with rolled oats—just as we do, occasionally, with granola. My son, who just turned one, seems to like his steel-cut oats and smashed fruit well enough, though admittedly he’s partial to scrambled eggs.

He’ll come around.

Do John’s colorful breakfast oats have you craving a bowl of your own? Homemade meals with Heinen’s have never been easier because you can get cooking without even leaving your kitchen! Your favorite Heinen’s products online are just a click away now that Heinen’s has partnered with Instacart for a simple and truly time-saving solution — groceries ordered online and delivered to your door in three easy steps:

  1. Shop for Fresh Groceries Online
    Order Heinen’s fresh produce, meat, seafood, prepared foods and more from your local store, using your computer or mobile device.
  2. Your Personal Shopper Does the Rest
    Instacart’s Personal Shoppers go out of their way to carefully select the items on your list and will follow your optional notes that detail exactly what you’re looking for. Need to make a change to your order? Simply send a message to your shopper!
  3. Groceries Delivered to Your Doorstep
    Your order will be delivered to your doorstep in as little as an hour or whenever you schedule it to be dropped off.

CLICK HERE to shop Heinen’s online today!

Heinen’s Grocery is located at 500 N. Hough Street, between E. Main Street and Route 14 in Barrington, Illinois. They’re open 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit Heinens.com.

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