Thursday, February 24, 2011
How to Make Oatmeal...Right
I could barely contain myself when I read Mark Bittman's latest piece on McDonald's oatmeal earlier this week. As a longtime oatmeal aficionado, I had been noticing the prominent billboard on Juanita Drive near school and wondering how this happened. Is McDonald's trying to convince the public that they offer healthy breakfast options? As Bittman points out, their oatmeal is anything but. Moreover, I like how he highlights the fact that even fast food cannot make oatmeal any "faster" than it already is. Waiting in line and ordering is already twice as long as you need to make your own, cheaper, better, more nutritious and customized to your taste preference. I make different types of oatmeal depending on my mood and you can too. Just mix and match from this list:
Types of oats:
Instant oats - These are often found in packets so I usually keep a box on hand for days when I really have no time and just grab one and make it at school or at work with a little hot water.
Rolled oats - I generally prefer these to instant oats. You can buy them in bulk and they are cheap and accessible. I like Bob's Red Mill gluten free rolled oats and prepare them the same way I would instant oats - either adding hot water or putting them in the microwave. (Just be sure not to put them in for too long or they will overflow and make a mess!)
Steel cut oats - These are my favorite and only take a bit of extra prep. You can soak them overnight and heat them for five minutes or cook them straight for about 20 minutes. They are nuttier and heartier than other oats and I've found that even people who don't think they like oatmeal enjoy this variety.
Water - This is how I do it. Quick and cheap and easy.
Milk - Regular, soy, almond, hemp, coconut. Choose your favorite.
(my favorite part!)
Blueberries - Fresh if I have on hand, otherwise frozen ones are easy.
Blackberries - In the summer I pick them from my backyard.
Shredded coconut - Rich and delicious.
Nut butter - Adds protein and a creamy, nutty flavor.
Ground flaxseed - Adds some ALA and additional fiber.
Dried fruit - Raisins, craisins, currants, apricots and cherries.
Chopped nuts - Walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashew.
Chocolate chips - My sister's favorite.
Sliced apples or bananas
Honey or Maple Syrup if you have a sweet tooth
Oats are a great source of soluble fiber which has many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol. The grain itself is gluten-free but cross-contamination often leaves them with traces of gluten, so celiacs beware. Oats contain protein but adding some nuts will increase the protein content of your meal. With the right fixins your oatmeal may be packed with even more nutrients and antioxidants but will taste delicious and keep you satisfied and fuller, longer. Mark Bittman also posted these alternative ways to use oats.
Not all oatmeals are created equal. Leave it to McDonald's to adulterate a heart healthy breakfast.
What are your favorite oatmeal toppings?