As a kid, having a nice warm bowl of oatmeal on a cold day was such a nice comforting way to start the day. This wasn't your ordinary oatmeal that you pour out of the packet, mix with some water and heat up in the microwave. This was the kind of oatmeal that your mom made over the stove. It took twenty minutes to cook if I remember correctly and it had no flavoring, other than the warm goodness nature and my mom gave it. Of course I would pour sugar on it because, well, I was a kid.
The health benefits of oatmeal are plentiful. Oats are a good source of whole grains, containing a starch called beta-glucan that is known to protect the heart and help lower cholesterol. They have plenty of fiber which can prevent hunger and improve digestion.
The toppings for oatmeal can either improve upon the health benefits are lessen them. I saw one recipe lately that called for peanut butter and jelly. While that sounds tasty, it adds a lot of fat and sugar to your day. So, stick with additives like whole fruit, chia seeds, non fat yogurt and nuts.
What's the difference between the packets of oatmeal and the slow cook stovetop oatmeal? They're both oatmeal so they must both be good, right? I don't like to tell people what they should eat. Instead, let me share some facts and let you decide. The oats in the packets are instant and heavily processed for longer usage. The rolled oats usually used in stovetop oats are more raw in nature. They both have similar nutritional profiles. The instant oats take less time to cook because they have been pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats.
Let's take it one step further. Take the rolled oats and don't cook them at all. That' right. There's a growing health trend regarding this breakfast cereal. It involves soaking them overnight and eating them uncooked. By soaking them overnight, they soften and absorb the liquid so that you can get the full benefits of all those nutrients because they are not cooked away. Some believe this is a much healthier way to go. Personally, I like it because I can still get my rolled oats without taking all that time over the stove. If you prepare some servings (they can usually last up to four days in the fridge) and have them ready, it can be as easy as grabbing a spoon.
With overnight oats, you are able to increase their health benefits by adding things like skim milk, non fat greek yogurt, and chia seeds to the soaking process. Just like regular oatmeal, you can make or break the health benefits with the toppings.
I found this easy recipe for overnight oats on www.feelgoodfoodie.net and tweaked it a bit for my liking:
In a mason jar or glass container (with a lid) add the following:
Nutrition: 333 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 16 g protein, 9 g fiber, 53 g carbs, 457 mg potassium, 78 mg sodium, 6 mg cholesterol
Lisa Pleasants is a Nutrition Consultant certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Nutrition is her passion and the articles you find here are just some tips on achieving better nutrition.