September 20, 2019

My Oatmeal

A lively variation, with the addition of walnuts, of my "standard" oatmeal.

I love oatmeal … period!  It is a staple in our home and recently, due to the urging of one of my personal training clients, I put pen to paper (or, as it turned out, fingertips to keyboard) and put together my basic oatmeal recipe to share.  But, what if you don’t share my enthusiasm for this anytime shape and say, “BUT I DON”T LIKE OATMEAL!”  Saying you don’t like oatmeal is akin to someone saying that she doesn’t like beer … there are a lots of styles and flavors of oatmeal (and beer)—BTW it’s is ok if you still don’t like beer (but give oatmeal a chance).  And listen, when I say oatmeal the kind that comes in the little single-serve packets, that can be prepared in 2.5 seconds by adding a 1/4 cup of tepid water, and have sugary sounding names like “Cookies & Cream” or “Maple Sugar Whatever” is NOT what I am talking about!

Before I bore your with the “why it’s good for you” stuff, let me add a few of the practical reasons that I really like this power food: 1) it’s scaleable, meaning you can enjoy a little or a lot depending on your caloric needs for the day, 2) it’s portable, it goes with you in almost anything (e.g. a cup, a bowl, a resealable container, even a Ziploc®), 3) it’s widely modifiable – you can prepare it coarse or “al dente” or cook it to oblivion, you can add almost anything in the cabinet or refrigerator to it or serve it “neat.”

So, why is oatmeal good for you anyway?  Oatmeal is a low calorie food, a single cup (prepared) has only 130 calories.  Oatmeal offers an abundance of fiber and even protein with a low associated amount of fat.  As a high-fiber, complex carbohydrate, oatmeal has a relatively low glycemic index (GI) and therefore is more slowly converted to simples sugars (this offers a muted insulin response).  Additionally, its high magnesium content supports the body’s utilization of glucose; consequently, oatmeal can help reduce the risk to Type 2 diabetes.  As a general rule, oatmeal can be considered a gluten free food; however, for the truly gluten intolerant or those that have been diagnosed with celiac disease the avenin protein can present a problem (avenin is one of the prolamine proteins that is potentially toxic to those with acute sensitivities).  Oatmeal is rich in plant lignans which have been shown to offer benefits for the prevention of both breast cancer (and other hormone-dependent cancers) as well as heart disease.  Oatmeal is rich in antioxidants.  It has been shown to lower the risk of heart failure by up to 30% (it is important to use the whole grain variety versus any processed or refined “quick oats”).  Oatmeal has even been shown to augment the body’s immense response to disease.


Brian’s Standard Oatmeal: 

Enjoy hot or cold, this dish can be enjoyed right off the stovetop or easily prepared the night before and consumed as a cold cereal the next morning.  Use this recipe as a base and feel free to mix it up, adding additional fresh/frozen fruits (e.g. blueberries, strawberries, gogi berries, raisins, dark chocolate, etc.) or nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, etc.)—use your imagination and experiment!

3/4 cup (dry) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashion Rolled Oats1

1 medium banana

1 T chia seeds

1 T NutriBiotic rice protein powder (or substitute a natural whey protein)

1 slice organic cheddar cheese, sliced/shredded (or substitute Jarlsberg “Lite,” low-fat mozzarella, etc.)*

1 tsp. Udo’s 3-6-9 oil

1 T finely ground flaxseed

1/2 cup organic whole milk, preferably non-homogenized (or substitute almond, soy, or low-fat milk)*

1/2 cup prepared cranberry sauce or fresh variety (a tasty antioxidant) (e.g. Whole Foods, whole berry variety)2

Cook oatmeal as directed (using water) … don’t overcook (stir in protein powder once oatmeal is fully cooked or, omit protein powder in this step and simply sprinkle it over the bananas). Place chopped banana and chia seeds in the bottom of the serving dish. Pour the oatmeal on top and immediately add the sliced/shredded cheese. Top with flaxseed, Udo’s oil, milk, and add the prepared cranberry sauce.

Approximate Nutritional Information: Total calories: 755, Carbs: 100g, Fat: 24g, Protein: 37g, and Fiber: 14g.

1Any “thick,” NOT quick-cook or instant, oats will do (Whole Foods sells thick cut oats in the bulk foods section), note that the thick varieties can be prepared in 5-10 minutes on the stovetop … I often do this the night before while prepare the evening meal).

2For an additionally healthful preparation, you can make fresh cranberry sauce by purchasing frozen cranberries and gently boiling them on the stovetop. Alternatively, feel free to replace with 1 T of dried cranberries (also available in bulk at WholeFoods).

*Surprised to see dairy here (i.e., cheese and milk)?  Well, dairy can have its place on the training table and it is a good source of protein and calcium, as well as additional calories when needed.  I for one do not buy the whole “avoid saturated fats at all costs mantra”; however, I do believe in nutrition periodization, i.e., cycling macronutrients in order to best support a given particular training goal, cycle, or volume.  Bottom line: whatever side of the dairy debate you decided to “whey in” on (ha … couldn’t resist), don’t skip the oatmeal!

Some interesting resources on the issue of magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and saturated fat, see:

Carvil P, Cronin, J.  Magnesium and Implications on Muscle Function.  Strength and Conditioning Journal. 2010; 32 (1): 48-54.

Spano M. Functional Foods, Beverages, and Ingredients in Athletics.  Strength and Conditioning Journal. 2010; 32 (1): 79-85.

Siri-Tarino P, Sun Q, Hu F, and Krauss R.  Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010; 91:502-509.

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