Undoubtedly, you’ve heard that oatmeal is a great, healthy choice for breakfast. Conveniently, there are innumerable companies that make pre-packaged oatmeal where you can simply add hot water, stir and go.
Unfortunately, a lot of these packets contain significant amounts of added sugar, and, if you caught my last blog, you have probably realized that this isn’t a great thing. While the steel-cut, slow cook oats might be a bit more of a time commitment, they are totally worth the effort. Boasting B-vitamins and a good deal of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which has been shown to do everything from lower cholesterol and diabetes risk to stabilize blood sugar, this grain has been hailed for decades as a health champion.
Fiber also gives these grains the staying power to keep you full all morning. And the great thing is, even though it can take longer to cook them, you don’t have to make them every morning. Whip up a big batch on Sunday afternoon and it will keep in the refrigerator for the entire week!
But who wants to eat plain old boring oatmeal? I know I don’t, and your kids certainly won’t! Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided us unlimited healthy, delicious choices to spice up our oatmeal.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Pumpkin: Stir in 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin (or sweet potato), a dash of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of walnut pieces and just enough brown sugar to suit your tastes. You’ll get a Vitamin A punch from the pumpkin, Omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts and studies are beginning to show that cinnamon might help regulate blood sugar.
- Dried Cranberries: Dried cranberries are another favorite oatmeal mix in, especially when combined with a couple tablespoons of chopped pecans. The dried cranberries are sweet enough that many people find they don’t even need to add any extra sweetness, but if you find yourself longing for something sweeter, don’t hesitate to stir in a teaspoon or two of agave nectar. Those cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections and even strengthen the immune system and pecans are packed with Vitamin E.
- Flaxseed: Want to boost the benefits of your oatmeal? Try adding a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 fatty acids which can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and lignans, which are especially important for fending of female-specific diseases such as breast cancer. Plus, its subtle crunch and nutty flavor complements the oatmeal perfectly.