How do you like your oatmeal? Growing up, I knew only the boxed oats made with water. We were invited to add a little milk or sugar to our taste so, being kids, that meant drowning it in milk and adding a ton of sugar!

No wonder I grew up with a dislike of oatmeal.

When I had my own kids, I revisited the oatmeal situation. Steel-cut oats made for a chewier, more interesting mouth texture. But they took so long to cook, I found myself keeping the old boxed oats in the pantry for those in-a-hurry mornings. I’d keep lots of fruit on hand – berries (in season), bananas, apples. Brown sugar is wonderful and beats the white sugar of my childhood hands-down. Maple syrup, yum.

Then I came across this recipe from and realized I had been doing it wrong. Cooking the oatmeal with some milk (in addition to water) really does result in a creamier texture and taste. And sautéing the apples in a little butter and brown sugar … wow! So much more “comfort-foody” than raw fruit.

So, make your tummy happy by following this recipe on a cold fall or winter morning. Oats are a high protein, fiber rich, heart healthy food – a smart choice for breakfast no matter how you like it. 

Oatmeal With Sautéed Apples
Yield: 2 or 3 servings
Time: 15 minutes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or omega-3 butter substitute like Smart Balance spread)
4 medium apples, thinly sliced
1½ cups rolled oats
1½ cups milk
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more for serving

1. Put the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it melts, add the apples and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the oats, milk, and cinnamon in a medium pot with a pinch of salt and 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are tender and the mixture is creamy and thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

3. When the apples are tender, add the 2 tablespoons brown sugar and stir just until it melts, about 1 minute. Serve the oatmeal topped with the apples and additional brown sugar, if you like.

What's your favorite way to enjoy oatmeal?