You'd have to be blue in complexion and living on the planet Pandora to not be well acquainted with the multiple health benefits of oatmeal. Every list of healthy foods has oats high at the top. Eating oats is known to lower cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, and has anti-inflammatory effects. Oats even help reduce blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar and are an excellent source of fiber for your colon. An oatmeal breakfast will fill your tummy and satisfactorily ward off hunger until lunch, reducing your desire to snack.
When it comes to oatmeal, there are several varieties based on processing. Since oats generally have a long cooking time, different forms of cutting, rolling, steaming and pre-cooking can hasten the cooking process. More good news: these processes, unlike with white flour, do not significantly reduce the nutritional value of the oats. From less to more levels of processing, here are four common types:
o Oat Groats: These are their most natural form; they look like wheat berries. It takes 45-60 min. to soften these.
o Steel-cut/Irish: Oat groats are cut into smaller pieces so they cook faster; the cooked oats are chewier.
o Regular/Rolled: This is the most familiar form in which the groats have been steamed and flattened by rollers.
o Instant (but not those instant packets): Regular rolled oats are flattened further, then cooked and dried.
Oatmeal is such an efficient body fuel that eating it for breakfast daily only maximizes its long-term benefits. The even-better news is that oatmeal is delicious, plain or dressed up, and can be easily enhanced in a variety of ways. Here are my suggested ways to liven up your oats and eat healthily at the same time.
1. Oatmeal with Banana & Wheat Germ (serves 6): Put your oats into overdrive with this perfect trio. Wheat germ adds iron, vitamin E, potassium and folic acid; the banana adds potassium, vitamin C, fiber and extra flavor.
7-½ cups water
2 cups rolled oats
1-1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
½ tsp salt
3 cups sliced bananas (~4)
6 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1. Combine the water, oats, wheat germ and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5-6 min. or until thick and heated throughout. Remove from heat.
2. Divide cereal evenly among 6 bowls. Top each with ½ cup bananas, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp butter. Serve immediately.
Consider stirring, sprinkling or swirling any one of these less-than-100-calorie options into your oatmeal bowl.
2 - 4. Fruity Add-ins: ¼ cup Blueberries; ¼ cup sliced Strawberries; ¼ cup diced Apples
5 - 7. Crunchy Add-ins: 1 Tbsp chopped Cashews; ¼ cup Granola, 1 crumbled Graham Cracker
8 - 10. Sweet Add-ins: 1 Tbsp Fruit Jam/Preserves; 2 tsp Maple Syrup; 1 Tbsp Honey
11 - 13. Exotic Add-ins: ¼ cup Chocolate Chips, 1 Tbsp Coconut Flakes or 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
14 - 16. Chewy Add-ins: 1 Tbsp dried/diced Cherries, Apricots or Figs
17 - 19. Savory Add-ins: ¼ cup of your favorite nonfat Yoghurt; ½ slice crumbled Bacon; 1 small slice of your favorite Cheese
20. Oatmeal Pancake Recipe (makes ~12-4" pancakes): An alternative breakfast to enjoy your oats.
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup steel- or stone-cut Oatmeal
1 large egg
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1. In a large bowl, stir the buttermilk, oatmeal, egg, sugar and oil until mixed. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, pastry flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, until just combined.
2. Heat a heavy griddle or skillet and brush with oil. Ladle batter onto skillet (about 2-½ Tbsp per pancake) and cook until lightly browned on each side. Serve with preserves and yogurt or maple syrup and butter.
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