MASTER OATMEAL RECIPE

Makes 6 cups.

The amount of water you need may depend on the brand of oats you buy, or how creamy you like your oatmeal.

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 2 c. steel-cut oats, uncooked

• 6 to 7 c. boiling water

•1/8 to 1/4 tsp. salt

• Milk, cream or toppings of your choice

Directions

In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the oats and toast, stirring often, until the oats smell nutty and butterscotchy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in 6 cups boiling water and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Stir frequently -- every 5 minutes at first, then every minute or so as the oatmeal thickens, reducing the heat gradually to medium-low and adding up to a cup more boiling water if mixture is too thick.

About 15 minutes after you've added the water, taste the oatmeal; it should be al dente, but not hard or raw-tasting. For chewy oatmeal, cook about 20 minutes; for creamy oatmeal, cook for up to 35 minutes. Serve with desired accompaniments.

If making in advance: Let oatmeal cool completely. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

To prepare leftovers, use 1 cup cooked oatmeal per serving. Warm over medium-high heat in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water or milk per serving until bubbling and smooth.

Nutrition information per serving of 1 cup:

Calories 140 Fat 6 g Sodium 56 mg

Carbohydrates 18 g Saturated fat 3 g Calcium 22 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 10 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1 fat.

DRIED FRUIT COMPOTE

Makes 3 cups.

• 3/4 c. dried cherries

• 3/4 c. golden raisins

• 3/4 c. dried apricots, cut into 1/4-in. pieces

• 1 (2- to 3-in.-long) cinnamon stick

• 2 (4-in.-long) strips orange zest

• 3 to 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

•1/4 c. honey

• 11/2 c. water

•1/2 vanilla bean, split

• 1 medium orange

Directions

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, add dried fruit, cinnamon, orange zest, cardamom pods, honey and water. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add, along with the vanilla bean pod itself, to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let mixture come to a gentle simmer; cover and cook about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cut the peel (including white pith) from the orange using a sharp knife. Holding the orange over the saucepan to catch juices, carefully cut the segments away from the membranes; discard membranes. Coarsely chop flesh and carefully stir into the compote once it's cooled a bit. Cool completely. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Use on top of oatmeal.

Nutrition information per serving of 1/2 cup:

Calories 200 Fat 0 g Sodium 6 mg

Carbohydrates 52 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 41 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 fruit, 1/2 other carb.

OATMEAL BUTTERMILK SANDWICH BREAD

Makes two 81/2- by 41/2-inch loaves.

With a slightly nutty flavor and moist crumb, this bread is wonderful for toasting or making grilled cheese sandwiches. The wet dough, which is more like a batter, can be made in a food processor with an 11- to 14-cup capacity, or in two batches in a smaller food processor. The temperature of your ingredients will in large part determine how long it will take the dough to rise, so gauge by visual cues more than time.

• 5 c. all-purpose flour

• 1 c. whole-wheat flour

• 1 tbsp. kosher salt

• 1 packet rapid-rise (not regular) yeast (21/4tsp.)

• 2 c. buttermilk

• 1 egg

• 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted

• 2 c. cooked Master Oatmeal, cooled (see accompanying recipe)

• 3 tbsp. real maple syrup

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flours, salt and yeast; make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, egg and melted butter and stir to combine roughly. Add the oatmeal and syrup and knead or stir for several minutes, until the batter is smooth and elastic but still sticky. Place in a large greased bowl and let rise until dough doubles in size, about an hour.

Grease two 81/2- by 41/2-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough between the pans, smooth the tops gently with wet hands, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the bread is about 1/2 inch above the rim of the pans, about an hour.

Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 45 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown on top and make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition information per slice (12 slices per loaf):

Calories 160 Fat 3 g Sodium 225 mg

Carbohydrates 28 g Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 35 mg

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 16 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 1/2 fat.

CARAMELIZED BANANA OATMEAL

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

The dessert classic Bananas Foster -- bananas browned in butter and bathed in a sticky-sweet brown sugar sauce -- is too good to save for dessert. To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until they start to brown. This recipe cooks quickly, so have all of your ingredients ready before you begin.

• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 2 medium bananas, cut crosswise into pieces about 3/4 in. thick

• 3 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar

• 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. water

• 2 to 3 servings cooked Master Oatmeal, hot (see accompanying recipe)

• 3 tbsp. chopped pecans, toasted, optional (see Note)

Directions

Heat an 8- to 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter; once it stops foaming, add the bananas and cook until nicely browned, about 2 minutes (don't worry if the butter browns). Flip bananas and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute.

Add the brown sugar and water and cook, swirling the pan to help dissolve the sugar, until the liquid is reduced by half and makes a syrupy sauce. Divide among bowls of steaming oatmeal, top with nuts, if using, and serve.

Nutrition information per serving of 3:

Calories 295 Fat 13 g Sodium 40 mg Sat. fat 5 g Carbs 44 g Calcium 33 mg

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 17 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 fruit, 1 bread/starch, 1 other carb, 2 1/2 fat.

HEARTY MORNING MUFFINS

Makes about 12 muffins.

The flavor of classic oatmeal-raisin cookies inspired these muffins. They're best eaten on the day they're baked; freeze the rest and thaw them in the microwave for 1 minute on high.

• 11/2 c. all-purpose flour

• 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour

• 11/2 tsp. baking soda

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

• 11/2 c. cooked Master Oatmeal (see accompanying recipe)

• 1 egg

• 1/2 c. buttermilk

• 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar, or more for sweeter muffins

• 1/4 c. vegetable oil

• 1 c. raisins

• 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the oatmeal, egg, buttermilk, brown sugar and oil. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide among prepared muffin cups and bake until muffins are browned and spring back when lightly touched, about 20 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 245 Fat 9 g Sodium 285 mg

Carbohydrates 38 g Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 41 mg

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 19 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 1/2 other carb, 2 fat.