And who says you only take it for breakfast? Given its health benefits, I've learned to take oatmeal twice a day. It's very filling and you won't need to snack often.
I suppose there are dozens of ways to prepare instant oatmeal. There have to be. Plain old instant oatmeal gets bland fast and you quickly grow tired of it. Oatmeal manufacturers recognize this and put out several flavors out in the market.
Oatmeal Flavors for the Sweet Tooth
The popular ones available in supermarkets are Chocolate, Apple, Banana, Honey, Strawberry, Honeydew, Hazelnut and maybe combinations of these. These are the flavors that the Quaker brand has traditionally put out.
They're good if you don't mind the sweet and sometimes sugary taste.
I'm not particularly fond of sweet oatmeal and so I searched for other flavors.
Newer Oatmeal Flavors for the Local Taste
To cater to the local taste, Quaker Oats came up with these three flavors: Chicken Arroz Caldo, Chicken Mushroom Flavor and Fish and Onion Flavor. These are the flavors you'd expect in soups and congee.
I became a bit excited when these flavors came out. I even mixed up oatmeal with oat bran for that added fiber - and with good results.
However, I suspect that these local oatmeal flavors didn't catch on. There were a few times that their prices have been slashed down in supermarkets. I can only conclude that they were slow-moving items on the shelves.
Of course I bought on bulk when they were up on sale. But do I have this feeling that they may soon be pulled out of the market for lack of demand.
So what other alternatives are there?
DIY Chinese-Style Flavored Oatmeal
With limited oatmeal flavors available in the market, I thought of mixes. The convenience of oatmeal is in its being "instant". I had to think of many options that should not require any special cooking.
Here's how I stumbled with my discovery.
I scanned many grocery shelves on mixes, condiments and sauces. I kept the word “instant” in mind, so I won’t veer too much away from my search.
I even tried the “rice buddies” kind of sauces. A local brand called “Sarsarap” became popular with the kids. Unfortunately, mixed with oatmeal, they just didn't taste good to me.
And then it hit me.
There are many to choose from: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, etc. So it isn’t just Chinese-style. And there are so many flavors: prawn, chicken, beef, squid, sweet, spicy, etc.
Suddenly, the thought just opened a floodgate of flavors!
And we always have them at home. They’re quick to prepare snacks. Many have evolved that there are now so many varieties. Some of them I actually like, like the local ones shown below.
Some instant noodle makers were able to successfully incorporate vegetable powder into the noodles themselves. There’s now the N-Rich Noodles with Malunggay (Moringa, although some call it Horseradish).
And some have gone even further to add tiny, yet real vegetable bits in one of their sachets. These bits are chopped veggies that are compressed and dried. They expand and become chewy after cooking in boiling water.
My Alternative Oatmeal Preparation
Just to simplify matters, the preparation I’m outlining below is good for a mug-sized serving. How big a mug? The typical coffee mug is good enough.
Many of the instant noodles sachets (powder or sauces) are a bit too salty for my taste. So what I do is to divide the WHOLE pack into two (or three if the flavoring is really too salty) parts.
Here’s what you need to prepare for a coffee mug-sized serving. You can put them in the mug in any order.
- Oat Bran – 1 heaping tablespoon (rounded). You can be a bit flexible here, and can go up to one and a half tablespoon. Pour into the mug.
- Oat Meal – Same as oat bran above.
- Noodles – With the noodles still inside the packet, crush the noodles inside by continuously gripping and mashing the packet with your fingers. The packet keeps the crushed noodle bits from spilling over. Remember, you’ll be saving half of the noodles for a second serving later. Pour half of the packet’s noodles into the mug.
- Flavor sachet – Whether powder or sauce, cut open the sachet. Pour half of its contents into the mug.
- Other sachets – Some instant noodles may have dried vegetable bits in a sachet. Cut open and pour half of the sachet’s contents into the mug.
So you see, you essentially put half of the entire packet’s contents inside the mug for a single serving.
Return the opened sachets inside the packet. Be careful to position the sachets so their contents don’t spill out. Secure the packet with a sealing clip. Alternatively, you can fold the opened portion of the packet and secure it with a bulldog or binder clip.
With all the contents inside the mug, carefully pour boiling water into the mug. The water should be boiling hot for all the contents to be cooked well.
Do NOT fill boiling water up to the brim. Leave about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from brim. The noodles, oatmeal and oat bran expand when cooked and so you need a bit of space so it doesn’t spill out.
Stir all the contents with a spoon. Scrape the bottom of the mug to ensure that all the oat bran and oatmeal gets mixed up. Clumps of oatmeal or oat bran will not cook well enough.
Cover the mug with small saucer or anything that will keep the heat in. I’d normally leave the whole thing cook and cool for about 30 minutes or more. The longer you leave it, the more the ingredients expand.
Bon Appetit for a healthier you!