Monday, February 1, 2016

Meatless Monday: Back to the Basics Part 2

In December I blogged about the joys of being a Nonna with a little one visiting. Her breakfast routine reminded me that a warm bowl of oatmeal is one of the best ways to get your day off to a great start. Her oatmeal was specially formulated for babies, with 45% of the daily value of iron in one serving. [There are ingredients in baby oatmeal not found in the adult kind, most notably electrolytic iron, vitamins C, B6, and B12, and folate.] Most healthy, full-term breastfed infants get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk during the first few months of their life. But at 6 months their iron stores tend to deplete. Babies need a lot of iron for their brains to develop normally, and infant oatmeal is an excellent vehicle for getting it into them (provided you do not lose too much to their face, hands, or highchair tray). 

Unadulterated [bad pun, I know] oats are good for grownups, too. As cereals go, oats are high in protein (5 gms per serving) and a good source of fiber, iron, and other minerals. More importantly, a serving of oatmeal contains 2 grams of soluble dietary fiber per serving; soluble fiber has been found to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) by 10-15%,  particularly when consumed as part of a low-fat diet. Other studies have found that eating oatmeal can decrease high blood pressure, help control blood sugar, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Research has shown that a hearty bowl of oatmeal will keep a person feeling full and satisfied for longer than some other breakfasts will. There is no better way to get revved up on a cold winter day. And, it is so easy to customize your bowl by adding milk, fruit, nuts, yogurt, honey, maple syrup… It can be different each day. 

Whether you like your oats smooth or with a bit of a texture, whether you have lots of time on your hands or only a minute or two, there is an oatmeal out there for you.  

A steamy bowl of oatmeal is a very economical breakfast, especially if you ditch the paper packets. [Directions for making your own single serving in the microwave are on every container of quick oats.] And, oats are gluten-free!

Oats can also be ground into a flour that can be used as a substitute for some of the white flour in a recipe, or on its own as in this delicious vegan lemon cake. You can buy oat flour, or grind it yourself

You can read more about the health benefits of oats at the Whole Grains Council site.

Finally, while oats are nutritious, they are not a “healthy food.” I suspect I am guilty of using this term in the past. I stand corrected. I apologize.   

Happy Meatless Monday. Have a great week!

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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