Cinnamon Apples: Warm a small saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter or oil. Add the apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and water and stir well. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until the apples are tender and translucent, stirring occasionally. Remove half of the cooked apples from the pan and set aside.
Cook the Oatmeal: Add the oatmeal, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, milk, water, maple syrup or brown sugar, and vanilla to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened to your liking, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Keep in mind that the oatmeal will thicken slightly as it cools.) Stir occasionally to keep the oatmeal from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste the oatmeal and add more sweetener if necessary.
Serve: Divide into serving bowls. Top with the remaining cinnamon apples and 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts. Serve warm; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days and are best reheated on the stovetop with a splash of extra milk or water.
Oatmeal: I like to use a 50-50 mix of quick oats and rolled oats for a creamy but hearty texture! Using all quick oats will result in a creamier oatmeal, while using all rolled oats will be chewier.
Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free oats to keep this recipe gluten-free
Oil-Free: Sauté the apples in 2 tablespoons of water instead of using the oil, adding more as necessary to keep the apples from sticking.