Lately I can’t stop thinking about Panera’s steel cut oatmeal. I discovered it one morning when Youngest and I had cabin fever and needed to take school on the road.
It is the perfect blend of steel cut oats, fresh strawberries, and oh, that cinnamon topping . . . it nearly slays me every time.
Our nearest Panera is nearly a half hour away, and I have since gone out of my way to have this oatmeal three times. It’s ridiculous how much I crave it! At just over 300 calories for a satisfying bowl packed with nutrients, my frequent visits may be justifiable. It’s the time commitment that is getting me.
Last weekend I tried Giada’s recipe for Quick Cooked Bulgur Wheat from her newest cookbook, Feel Good Food. Rather than adding stewed berries as she suggests, it dawned on me that I could create a similar recipe to my beloved Panera oatmeal. I simply added sliced strawberries and cinnamon sugar as my topping. It was slightly crunchy and nutty, sweet and savory and very filling. This recipe makes at least four servings. I portioned leftovers into small bowls to extend the indulgence throughout the week.
My Panera Strawberry Oatmeal Knock off recipe
2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 c. quick cooking bulgur wheat
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. fine sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until bulgur is tender, about 12 minutes.
Spoon into a bowl and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil before topping with cinnamon sugar and sliced strawberries.
You can find quick cooking bulgur wheat in the natural foods section of your grocery store. (I purchased Bob’s Red Mill.) I love the virtuous feeling I get when I eat foods that I know are benefitting my health! Don’t let bulgur wheat scare you. It is high in fiber and protein and carries all the benefits of foods that are 100% whole grain.
I have yet to figure out just how Panera makes their cinnamon topping. Raw turbinado sugar rather than granulated? There’s a bit more substance to it than what I used here, so I’ve been experimenting with this part of my so-called “recipe”. I’m just excited to have found a healthy alternative to make at home, serve in a pretty bowl with a big mug of coffee and a good book on the side. It’s my bliss, a simple way to make the everyday special. Give it a try and let me know what you think!