Oatmeal is incredibly healthy, and if you can love a bowl of gray glop for breakfast, bless you. You are a saint.
If you know you should eat it, but can hardly look at the stuff, there’s hope yet. The porridge treatment has given oatmeal a bad rap. There are lots of other choices and surely something that can entice you, too.
Oatmeal is special. If you don’t care for Wheatena or grits, we’d say let it pass. Eat something else. But oatmeal provides prodigious amounts of fiber, and that’s something most Americans need in much greater quantities.
One 1-cup serving also starts your day (should you have it for breakfast) with all the manganese you will need and 41% of the zinc, a third of your daily magnesium and a fourth of your copper requirements. It will also give you 20% of your daily iron and zinc along with a respectable 39% of vitamin B1 and around 10% of B9 (folate) and B5 (pantothenic acid).
Oatmeal Makes Getting Fiber Easy
Women should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, men 38 grams. One cup of oatmeal for breakfast will give you 8 grams of fiber.
This great fiber load is found in Quaker old-fashioned oats, the round box most people choose at the grocery store. Instant oatmeal is still good, but a bit lower. Steel cut oats, which are coarser and not to everyone’s taste, are higher in fiber.
To get that much elsewhere, you would have to turn to other high-fiber foods, but you’d have to eat a lot more. Like 3 bananas, or 1 ½ cups of blackberries, 1 ½ avocados or 4 small apples.
You don’t get into the range that competes with oatmeal until you reach lentils, kidney beans and other pulses.
Oatmeal for Oatmeal Shunners
There are other ways to eat oats, and you might succeed in taking a more savory approach.
I don’t run well when I start my day with sweets, so I found a way to make that work for me. While I never liked oatmeal, grits with salt, pepper, and butter are in my wheelhouse. That seemed like a possibility worth trying for oats—sans butter.
Success! Good quality oatmeal, cooked thick, and served with salt and pepper tastes just fine. It’s not glop. Add a scoop of fat-free cottage cheese on the side, and you have a protein bomb, too.
Other ideas I’ve found palatable for an oatmeal avoider…
- Stir in a large handful of spinach leaves toward the end of cooking. Siracha works well to liven oats if you can stand a hot, hot breakfast. This concoction goes well with avocado slices on top.
- Some people tell me that crumbled bacon and a soft poached egg are delicious, but this is supposed to be a health blog, so we’ll just pretend that bacon never happens, OK?
- Make it Mexican. Add some shredded cheese, onions, and salsa. Avocado, too.
- Go Italian with a scoop of ricotta, sun dried tomatoes and basil.
- Sauteed onions and peppers aren’t just for eggs. They’re great on oatmeal.
- Did you do a big pan of roasted veggies for dinner? Still have leftovers? Your oatmeal will be perfect to finish them off.
- Do the Asian thing by putting a scoop of miso paste in the boiling water when you cook your oatmeal. Go all the way with some scallions on top and a soft cooked egg, too.
- Cook the oatmeal with broth, add cheese.
- Douse with high-quality olive oil and fresh herbs. Beautiful when paired with asparagus.
Oatmeal Savory Slabs
Another interesting way to add oatmeal to your daily regime is to make a batch and pour it into a pie pan or baking dish to set.
Let it chill until firm. Now it can be sliced and sautéed in very light oil. If you already do this with polenta, it’s the same technique.
Sprinkle with any flavorings you like—chili works. Or shredded parmesan. It’s good with spaghetti sauce on top or salsa, too. Whatever hits your imagination.
Let’s hope one of those ideas works for you. And if not, there’s always quinoa.
Photo Credit Marco Verch Professional Photographer