April 25, 2011

The 'Super' Breakfast - Oatmeal

This post was originally featured on Listen To Lena!, when I was asked to make a Guest Post.  I jumped at the opportunity!

Total Prep Time: 1 - 60 minutes
1 Grain Products (3/4 cup cooked oatmeal)

Oatmeal is the ultimate breakfast food!  I grew up eating it and still love it to this day.  Big-A's response to Saturday morning oatmeal?  "Yes!", along with a little fist pump!  He'll even eat his Nana's steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast.

1 cup of uncooked rolled oats contains the following:
  • 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat)
  • 8g dietary fibre
  • 10g protein
  • Iron - 19% Daily Value for an adult
Heart-healthy oats are cholesterol free and have a low Glycemic Index, making them a perfect meal for diabetics.  In fact, one way that my father controls his type 2 diabetes is by eating a bowl of oatmeal daily.  Oatmeal is a superfood in my books, and deserves a permanent spot in everyone's diet.

My favourite oatmeal toppers:
  • brown sugar (use in moderation)
  • applesauce
  • frozen blueberries (they'll thaw instantly when placed on top of hot oatmeal)
  • fresh strawberries, raspberries or blackberries
  • thinly sliced bananas & walnuts
  • vanilla yogurt
  • cinnamon
Try any of these items to flavour your oatmeal, or experiment with your own favourites.  Let your kids have fun choosing their own toppings.

Although oatmeal is an extremely healthy food for people of all ages, not all oats are made the same.  There are many different variations of oats to choose from.

Oat Groats (aka Whole Oats):  Oat groats are minimally processed, with only the outer hull removed.  Their most common uses are for animal feed and (ground into) oat flour.  They're extremely nutritious with a very low Glycemic Index, but they're chewy and need to be soaked and cooked for a long time.  The best way to cook oat groats is by using a slow cooker or pressure cooker.  Approximate stovetop cooking time: 1 hour.


Steel-cut Oats (aka Coarse-cut or Irish Oats):  Oat groats that have been chopped into small pieces.  They are chewier than rolled oats, and stand up well to liquid in their raw form (hot cereal or muesli).  Approximate stovetop cooking time: 30 minutes.

Rolled Oats (aka Old-Fashioned or Flaked Oats):  Oat groats that have been steamed, rolled, and flaked.  They cook quickly, and are most commonly used as a hot breakfast cereal, in granola or in
oatmeal cookies.  Approximate stovetop cooking time: 15 minutes.


Instant Oats:  Thin, precooked oats.  Usually found in pre-portioned packages, ideal for microwaving.  They are very convenient, but are not as chewy and flavourful as slower-cooking oats.  Packaged instant oats usually contain added salt, sugar and artificial flavouring, due to the lack of natural flavour.  Approximate cooking time: 1-2 minutes.

I keep a box of Quaker 100% Whole Grain Oats packets in my desk at work.  Ready in 1 minute, they're the perfect breakfast on a busy morning, or afternoon snack.  I simply fill a small container with frozen blueberries, and add them to the oatmeal for extra flavour.

On the weekend when I have more time, I cook rolled oats for our family breakfast.  Big-A loves oatmeal, Lil-J not so much.  But I know that in time he will learn to love oatmeal as well.

Try out oats in all of it's forms and base your choice on what fits your family best.  Slow-cooked groats is the most nutritious way of consuming oats.  But if 1-minute quick oats is all you & your children have time for, eat them as often as you can.  Your heart will thank you for it!  Set a positive example for your children and show them how enjoyable plain old oatmeal can be!

For more information on the nutritional benefits of oatmeal, check out Quaker Oats Canada at http://www.quakeroats.ca/.  You will find information about heart health, fitness & nutrition, along with delicious recipes.

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