I don’t know how you’re feeling these days, but after a prolonged holiday season and all the treats and goodies we have to indulge in during the darkest days of the year, I think I’d be just fine, thank you very much, if I never look a chocolate or slice of over-amped cake in the eye again. Well, at least until Easter.
Never mind Christmas and New Year’s, and all the other holidays we humans celebrate around winter solstice, those of us lucky enough to live in a post-industrial society like this one eat far too many processed, even ultra-processed, foods full of sugary, empty calories, and the incumbent bad fats and salt all year long.
So never mind the New Year’s resolutions, broken or not, I’m simply up for a great start to the day that will fuel me—totally—for a good long spate without needing a sugar fix. I can’t think of a better power source than oatmeal, and I can’t think of a better tip on how to chow it down for brekkie, than the down-home recipe, below, from one of Canada’s top downhill champs, one known equally for his smarts, kindness and grace—the late, great Dave Murray.
Just a friendly note before you get started. My grandad, who swore by oatmeal for breakfast and lived to be 91, would gladly tell you there’s a big difference in substance and texture between slow-cook rolled oats (especially the steel cut variety), and the instant or quick-cook varieties. You’re better off using the slow-cook ones whenever possible, including in muesli or homemade granola. Your taste buds, gut microbiome and brain will all thank you. As will your wallet. Rolled oats, whichever variety you use, are so cheap they’ll set you back a mere fraction of the cost of those over-processed, over-sugared commercial cereals. Welcome news these days.
As for the difference in nutritional value between slow-cook oats and the quickie types, according to the USDA and other experts, there isn’t much. But, and this is a big but, slow-cook rolled oats have a lower glycemic index, which is the measurement of how quickly a food increases your blood sugar over two hours—something you definitely want after all those sweet holiday treats.
Dave’s super oatmeal recipe, below, can be found in Diane Nicholson’s The Whistler Weekend Cookbook (1987) in the Whistler Museum’s reference collection, along with Whistler Recipes (1997) and Festive Favourites (2001), two cookbooks published by the museum itself.
The reference collection includes a wide range of books, on skiing (like the illustrated Skiing with Al Raine from 1971), on regional mountains, fishing and much more. You can browse through them in person whenever the museum is open.
Check out the museum gift store, too, which offers some of the most authentic, true-blue Whistler gifts and souvenirs in town. You’ll find books by local authors, as well as archival photographs and lots of those in-demand, iconic old “W” logo products. Whistler Museum is located in the heart of the village at 4333 Main Street. Admission is by donation.
Sometimes the simple things in life are the best
Dave Murray’s recipe is just one of many rounded up by Diane Nicholson for her 1987 project, The Whistler Weekend Cookbook. She donated all the proceeds to Whistler’s then-nascent library.
The book is a fun collection of recipes for and by all kinds of community members of the day, including locals, weekenders (of course, given the title), chefs, B&B owners, and even ski champions and all-round Canadian heroes like Dave and Rob Boyd. (The cookbook has a great oatmeal recipe from Rob, too, for World Cup Granola Bars, and I promise to run it in this column space as soon as we need another reminder to eat our oats!)
All the recipes are charmingly handwritten in calligraphy, and retain every detail and personal note that people like Dave submitted. In my books, that pretty much makes them a unique archival record of Whistler’s funky, fearless past.
For those of you who don’t know, Dave Murray was an alpine ski racer who, along with Steve Podborski, Ken Read and Dave Irwin, was a member of the legendary Crazy Canucks, the downhill team famous during the late ’70s and early ’80s for their fearless style. They were variously called reckless, ballsy, kamikaze—and those are direct quotes you can find online—but whatever word you use, their M.O. wowed fans and sports buffs around the globe as they kicked ass and challenged the then-traditional world favourites from Austria and Switzerland who dominated downhill racing.
Dave was born in Vancouver and called Whistler home for years, founding the renowned Dave Murray Ski School and working as Whistler Blackcomb’s director of skiing. The Dave Murray Downhill course, named in his honour, is considered among the best in the world.
Sadly, he died far too young from skin cancer, but his daughter, Julia Murray, who was only 22 months old at the time of his death, was proud and pumped to be part of Canada’s ski-cross team at the 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler.
Basically, you couldn’t ask for a better breakfast to start your day than this recipe from a genuine local champ. It’s delicious, and nutritious. And, of course, you can make any variations or twists and turns that you like. Dave would get a kick out of that.
Dave Murray’s Breakfast of Champions
3 c. water
1 c. slow-cooking oatmeal
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp. sliced almonds
1 tbsp. pecans
2 tbsp. raisins
1/2 apple, diced
Brown sugar or maple syrup
Boil the water, salt added, in a medium-sized pot with lid. Stir in oatmeal, nuts, raisins and apple. Simmer with lid on, stirring occasionally until thick. Pour into bowls and add a small amount of brown sugar or maple syrup, and milk. Serves two hungry people. Porridge for breakfast may make you late for work, but it is worth it!
- Dave Murray
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who loved it when Dave Murray would ramble into The Whistler Question office for a good ol' confab.