What? How is oatmeal like pasta? Glad you asked. Oatmeal, like pasta is a blank canvas with endless possibilities! There are a million ways to prepare oatmeal or pasta so it never gets boring.
Health benefits of oatmeal:
- Oatmeal contains a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan. Soluble fiber is known to be very helpful in reducing cholesterol and oats are one of the best sources of soluble fiber.
- Beta glucan can boost your immune system and has been studied for its use as a cancer treatment.
- Because of its high fiber content oatmeal has a low glycemic index. That means its sugar content is released slowly into the bloodstream so it helps stabilize blood sugar.
- Oatmeal doesn't digest quickly so you feel full for a longer period of time.
- Oatmeal contains a type of antioxidant called avenanthramides found almost exclusively in oats. Antioxidants are important for their ability to protect against free radicals that destroy our body's cells.
- Oats have all the macros: complex carbs, healthy fats AND 6 grams of protein in 1/2 cup dry oatmeal.
A few Tips:
- Try to avoid instant or 1-minute oatmeal. They have a higher glycemic index so they won't stabilize your blood sugar as well as rolled oats or steel cut. They also won't keep you full as long.
- Stay away from the oats that are flavored as they will have a lot of added sugar and artificial flavors.
- Steel cut oat take a long time to cook on the stove so I bought a small crockpot and a timer. I get my steel cut oats ready the night before, plug the crockpot into the timer, set the timer and my oatmeal is perfectly cooked when I get up in the morning.
- You can cook one serving of rolled oats in the microwave in 2 minutes. Just make sure your bowl is big enough that it won't boil over.
So now that you know how good oatmeal is for you let's explore how to make it interesting. Most of us probably grew up eating oatmeal with a few raisins and some brown sugar mixed in and that's how most restaurants serve it. In my opinion that's really boring. We can do better than that.
My go to oatmeal:
This is what I have most mornings when I am in a hurry:
1/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons flax meal
a pinch of pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric and cinnamon
It all goes in a bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes.
When it's done I add a scoop of my homemade granola, a handful of fresh berries and a splash of oat or cashew milk. Its got everything: additional protein from the nuts in the granola, antioxidants from the turmeric, cinnamon and berries and extra fiber plus Omega-3 fats from the flaxseed.
More ways to boost your plain oatmeal:
- chocolate-cherry oatmeal: Add fresh or dried cherries, unsweetened cacao powder and date or maple syrup
- apple-cinnamon: Add unsweetened applesauce, chopped apples, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and maple syrup
- Pumpkin pie: Add pumpkin puree, a little cinnamon and nutmeg and chopped pecans
- PB&J: Add peanut butter and your favorite jam and crushed berries
- Classic: Add bananas, raisins, a bit of brown sugar and chopped walnuts
- Superfood: Add flaxseed, chia seed, blueberries, goji berries and cinnamon
Over night oats have recently become quite popular. Even Starbucks has it on their menu. Super easy: you mix rolled oats, a liquid and whatever mix-ins you want in a mason jar. Leave it in the fridge overnight and the next morning you have a creamy, oat-y yummy breakfast waiting for you! No cooking involved plus you can make enough for 2-3 days at one time. Doesn't get easier than that! Here is the basic recipe:
1/2 cup Milk
3/4-1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1/4 cup yogurt (optional for a creamier texture)
1 tablespoon date syrup, coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup if you want a little sweetness
Add everything to a mason jar. Mix well. Cover and leave it int the fridge overnight.
Overnight Oat Variations:
These are just a few ideas to get you going but get creative!
Carrot cake: Add grated carrots, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries or raisins, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
Blueberry Lemon: Add blueberries, a little lemon zest and some honey
Strawberry cheesecake: Add strawberries (diced), vanilla yogurt
Chocolate peanut butter: Add 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter, cacao powder, honey
Pumpkin pie: Add canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped pecans and maple syrup
Elvis Presley: Add mashed banana, peanut butter and honey
How long do overnight oats last?
Overnight oats can be prepared up to 2-3 days in advance, but you may want to add fresh fruit at the last minute other wise it might get too mushy if left for 3 days.
Why chia seeds?: they become gel-like when soaked and adds to the creaminess but also adds fiber, protein, omega-3 fats and antioxidants
Can I use a different milk?: definitely. any plant milk or cows milk works just fine.
Do I have to eat it cold?: Although it's wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer morning, you might want something warmer on a chilly day. To warm it simply put it in a bowl and warm in the microwave for about 60 seconds. Just make sure the bowl is large enough that it won't overflow. You can also heat it up on the stove.
Can I make a larger serving?: Yes, just add everything into a large bowl. Mix well and then divide into individual serving jars with lids before refrigerating.
Large Batch Steel Cut Oats:
Steel cut oats have a completely different texture than rolled oats. Steel cut oats are little nuggets and much harder than the flat, thin rolled oats so they take longer to cook but are really nice for a change of pace. I really like the chewy, hearty texture. They have a little more fiber and are slightly lower on the glycemic than rolled oats. However steel cut oats take 30-40 minutes to cook on the stove so I recommend cooking them in a crockpot overnight. The following recipe is really nice during the holidays especially if you're feeding several people. You can keep any leftovers in the fridge up to 4-5 days.
2 cups steel cut oats
7 cups water
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla
Add everything to a crockpot. Cook on low 5-6 hours but can be as long as 8 hours. To serve: add sliced bananas, maple syrup and chopped pecans or walnuts. I plug a timer into the crockpot and let it cook overnight.
If you've never been a fan of oatmeal I hope this has inspired you to give it another try. Remember: oatmeal is just like pasta! Feel free to share your favorite oatmeal recipes!
Be well, friends!