Monday, November 14, 2011

AID STATION: Michele's Power Oatmeal

It's Ironman week, counting down to Sunday, so time to make sure I'm hydrating and eating lots of good stuff.  Plus, with the cold season and chilly weather upon us, everyone could stand to perk up their nutrition.  One way to kickstart your health this winter (and all year long) is with a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

Not a picture of my oatmeal, but it sure does look good...
Now, some of you may not even eat breakfast.  Really?  If you're one of those people, then you seriously need to have your head examined, along with your health.  The importance of a good breakfast is as fundamental as getting a good night's sleep.  (And I'm guessing the folks who skip breakfast are the same ones who don't get enough sleep...hmmmm).  Think you're going to lose weight by skipping breakfast?  Wrong! An NYU peer reviewed medical blog explains that people who eat breakfast tend to have a lower body mass index ("BMI"), a.k.a. percentage of fat, than those who skip breakfast.  The article notes that although there is no established causal link between skipping breakfast and weight gain, various theories seem to show a relationship, including the tendency of people who skip breakfast to eat a higher caloric intake throughout the day.  Skipping breakfast also has been associated in one Japanese study with fatigue.  In addition, the NYU article noted that in adolescents, academic performance, problem solving skills, attendance, and mood all are affected by breakfast consumption.  Finally, children who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, according to an article on Livestrong.  I could go on and on about the benefits of breakfast, but just know that if you don't eat breakfast, you're really starting your day out on the wrong foot.  

I know that people are in a hurry to get out the door in the mornings. I'm the same way. So oatmeal has become an easy option for me to eat either before I leave or when I get to work.  It's easy to mix together the dry ingredients in a plastic container and pour some hot water over it when you get to work.  So why oatmeal instead of sugary cereals?  Natural Home and Garden lists some of the benefits of oatmeal:

  1. Lowers cholesterol:  a special strand of fiber called beta-glucan has been shown in studies to reduce levels of bad cholesterol, to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  
  2. Boosts immune system:  that same beta-glucan also revs up your immune system by helping fight bacterial infections. 
  3. Protects good cholesterol:  oatmeal contains special antioxidants that prevent free radicals from attacking good cholesterol, which also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 
  4. Stabilizes blood sugar:  fiber-rich oatmeal helps stabilize your blood sugar and stave off the sugar "crashes" that result from eating refined sugar.
  5. Lowers risk of diabetes:  oatmeal also is rich in magnesium, which can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by helping the body properly use and secrete insulin.
  6. Protect against breast cancer: a UK Women's Cohort Study found that pre-menopausal women who ate diets rich in fiber from whole grains had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer over women who ate less fiber from whole grains. 
If you really want to delve into all the wonders of oatmeal, check out The World's Healthiest Foods

So how can you jazz up your boring morning oatmeal?  One of the things I love about oatmeal is that it's great way to sneak in other foods with awesome nutritional value. Throw in some almonds or walnuts for some good fat and protein, apples for some Vitamin A, or raisins for iron.  (If you're my mother, you throw in M&M's, but that may defeat the purpose of the "healthy" oatmeal, although it's better than eating no breakfast at all!). Feel free to experiment with your oatmeal and make it your own, but here's my recipe for a hearty, warm oatmeal that will amp up your day:  

Michele's Power Oatmeal
  • 1/3-1/2 cup quick oats (I buy mine at the bulk bin at the organic store, but Quaker Oats will do the trick.  Just try to avoid the instant packages of oatmeal if you can, which can contain a lot of refined sugar)
  • 1 TBSP peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 slivered almonds or 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Sugar in the RawOrganic Raw Cane Sugar, or Organic Maple Syrup to taste (if you like your oatmeal sweeter, like I do).  NOTE:  Avoid using refined white and brown sugar and, instead, use raw sugar (which is brown but is not brown sugar).  "Unrefined raw sugar is made from the juice from the sugar cane plant and has trace minerals and nutrients present. Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients."  See Natural Organic Lifestyle for a discussion of raw vs. refined sugar.  Maple syrup also is a good sweetener because it has been called a "superfood" like blueberries or green tea. 
  • Optional:  1 TBSP Chia seeks (for Omega 3 and 6) or 1 TBSP ground flaxseeds (for Omega 3, 6, & 9).  
  • Hot water (I use about 12 oz for all the ingredients listed above, but use more or less for your desired consistency). 
Combine all the dry ingredients together, along with the peanut butter, in a bowl, pour hot water over it, and let it sit for about 3-5 minutes.  Enjoy with a glass of orange juice or almond milk.  This will fill you up and get your mind and body fueled for the day.  

No comments: