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Food Basics: Oats

oatmeal basics

Being a kid in Michigan meant I ate a great deal of oatmeal.  Winter mornings are cold and Mom always wanted to make sure I was loaded up with something that “stuck to the ribs” for the long day ahead. It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to appreciate the health benefits of oats.

Health benefits aside, oatmeal can be delicious served for breakfast and has many other uses, as well. Although oatmeal cookies are good, consider items beyond this standard. Try oat bread, cakes, muffins, or even beer.

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oatmeal basics

Oatmeal has been used as human food for centuries. However, the majority of crops are used for livestock. Some of it is used as feed. The straw is often used for hay. You will also find it in many pet foods.

By now we have all heard of the health benefits of oats. They are loaded with fiber, which “fools” your body into thinking you are full, longer. One type of soluble fiber in oats has been proven to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol. It is widely believed that eating oats promotes heart health, as well. If all of that wasn’t enough… oats also have more protein than any other cereal grain.

You may avoid oatmeal for breakfast due to a bad experience. This might be due to the type of oatmeal you prepared. If you chose instant or quick oats, the result might have been a bit gluey or slimy. Some people prefer it that way. If that turns you off, consider rolled oats or steel-cut oats.     

Rolled oats and steel-cut oats will take longer to cook. Steel-cut oats take up to 30 minutes. That is because they have not been processed nearly as much as the others have. As with most things, the more it is processed, the quicker it can be prepared. Unfortunately, often times the more things are processed, the less quality they possess. 

If you don’t already enjoy oatmeal, try steel-cut oats. They have nuttiness about them that the other types do not. Consider topping them with cream or milk, sugar or honey, maple syrup or jam. For a healthful start to your day try banana and almonds. A dollop of Greek yogurt and some fresh berries are good, too. One last word of advice… many packages do not mention salt in the preparation. I highly recommend a pinch of salt. It does much to enhance the flavor. Enjoy!      

oatmeal basics


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