Oatmeal-A Forgotten Hero

written by cookeatlove on March 26, 2010 in Breakfast with 9 comments

I love oatmeal.  I didn’t really like it as a child but come to think of it, I am not sure if I am confusing oatmeal with Cream of Wheat, which I dreaded.  I go through breakfast favorites, lately it has been a poached egg on toast but I always come back to oatmeal.  In fact, I just finished eating a bowl of it.   I want to share some information with you about oatmeal, in case you have forgotten about this warm breakfast treat and need a reminder of how good it is for you.  Or perhaps you are stuck in the past still fighting your mother that it is physically impossible for oats to stick to your ribs and you need a new or better analogy.

Historically Oatmeal was a peasant food eaten in Scotland.  Oats were better suited to the climate of Scotland, which has a short wet growing season.  It was traditionally called Porridge and was eaten daily.   Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people”.  Oats have a cultivation history for over 4000 years. Oats were once looked down upon as a food for the lower classes that couldn’t afford wheat.

Oats grow on stalks, and are part of the grass family. Oats for oatmeal are harvested, cleaned and roasted. Although the oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and their germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. This is what makes them a “whole” grain.

So what are the health benefits of oatmeal?

Compared with other whole grains on a per gram basis, oats have one of the highest concentrations of protein; calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, thiamin, folacin, and vitamin E. Those sound very important to the body don’t you think?

Oats also contain more healthy oils than most grains. Their dietary fiber is 55 per cent soluble. This improves the digestive process and avoids and alleviates constipation since it drags the rest of the food on its way through the intestines. Visualize that eh? A cleaner intestine sounds good to me.  Oatmeal reduces the absorption of sugar in the blood so that you can keep going for longer and the blood sugar does not drop like other food.   Another common term for this is “sticking to your ribs”, our mothers were right; the analogy just needs some work.

The fiber contained in oatmeal also benefits the heart. As stated before oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol in your intestines. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you’ll add about 4 more grams of fiber.  Fiber is just what you need to clean out your colon and get your digestive tract back to a healthy level.

A final and surprising benefit of oatmeal that should make all women happy is that oatmeal helps to improve moody states in people. This is pretty useful when these mood swings are part of PMS since oatmeal is able to stabilize the levels of estrogen and diminishes liquid retention.  Just don’t tell your husband or boyfriend this because you are guaranteed to hear a pathetic voice ask you if you have had oatmeal today.  He may even go so far as asking you if he can make some for you.  Fortunately, oatmeal in the face can act as a cleaner and soften his annoying  face that seems to become more and more annoying as the day goes on.  Oats are highly absorptive, hypoallergenic, and help to soften skin. They have the best amino acid balance of all the cereal grains (amino acids work as water-binding agents in skin care products). Oats have also been clinically shown to help heal dry, itchy skin. Oat grains appear in shampoos, dusting powders, moisturizers, and cleansing bars.

So when your mood is balanced again your partner will have the softest skin and can have it monthly if he opens his trap about making you oatmeal again.

How to a make oatmeal:

Here is something interesting that many people don’t know is that a quick oat is no different in nutrients than a longer cooking oat.  A steal cut oat is the least processed of the bunch but needs to be cooked much longer than a rolled oat. The quicker oat is rolled and flattened thus making it faster to cook…that whole surface area thing. The smaller and flatter the oat, the faster it cooks. The longest cooking times are for oat groats, followed by steel-cut or Irish oats, large flake rolled oats, quick oats, and instant oats.

But, the longer you cook oatmeal, the more nutrients are lost in the cooking process.  So it does not mean you are less healthy if you buy a quicker oat—you can stare down at any health nut with your bag of quick oats at the grocery store.  It comes down more to a matter of taste because the essential components of the oat are not lost in any of these processes.

Oatmeal Cooking Methods

1. Stove-top (5-10 minutes for rolled oats; up to 20 minutes for steel-cut or Irish oats)

2. Microwave (for quicker-cooking oats). Use a large, microwave-safe bowl. Oatmeal tends to bubble up and get messy as it cooks.

3. Oven (for large quantities or recipes with lots of extras, like eggs). Can take up to 45 minutes.

4. Slow cooker or Crock Pot. Cook overnight on low. No extra liquid is usually needed.

5. Uncooked: soak oats overnight or until soft in water, milk, yogurt, or juice. Soaking is the basis for traditional muesli and makes getting ready in the morning that much faster! Fruit and nuts can also be added the night before. Devotees say soaking oatmeal makes it easier to digest, especially first thing in the morning.

So, go out and buy some oatmeal.  It is good for you and helps burn fat…I could do a whole other post just on burning belly fat.  Maybe later.  I make my oatmeal on the stove and when it is piping hot and cooked, I add frozen blueberries, a little brown sugar and milk.  Heavenly.