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Monday, October 15, 2007

Let's Talk Oatmeal

Last winter my husband and I finally got around to getting a life insurance plan. We had been putting it off but decided that it might be a good idea now that we have kids. I think that the best thing that came about through the process was that we found out my husband's cholesterol is AWFUL. At 27 years old, his cholesterol was 267 (Under 200 is desirable. Over 240 is high risk), and his LDL was 192 (Under 100 is optimal. 190 is very high risk). Ethan is not overweight, but his cholesterol is too high.

If he would go on meds at this point in his life, his liver would take quite a beating. And so we began the quest for ways to lower his cholesterol. Since we had an interest in farming, we started doing more research on grass fed beef and pastured chickens (and eggs), which has helped lead us to where we are so far in our farming pursuits.

Another thing that seemed like it would help is oatmeal. A couple of the 6 major health benefits of oatmeal is that it helps lower LDL - the bad cholesterol, and it also helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

In my last post I received a question about oatmeal in my comment section so I thought I'd make a new post on oatmeal. I'll share what I know, and I'd love to hear what you know.

Since my husband has very particular taste buds, I tried to make an oatmeal he would enjoy eating. He is able to choke down the maple and brown sugar prepackaged oatmeal, so I tried to make a copy cat. This is what I came up with:

MAPLE AND BROWN SUGAR OATMEAL
Combine:
1/2 c oats
2 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Add:
2/3 c water

Microwave 1 minute 30 seconds


While I was experimenting, I learned a lot about oatmeal. First of all, I learned that the texture can be completely different depending on how it is made. You can leave it as it is in the box or chop it up in the blender. Microwaving or boiling it will change its consistency, along with the amount of water you put in it. Also, you can change the texture by how you boil it. You can add the oatmeal in the water before you put in on heat, after it is boiling, or somewhere in between. And all this makes a difference in how it turns out. Quite complicated when you are trying to please a choosy eater.

I also learned something when my parents were visiting once. They eat oatmeal. For some reason I never knew that growing up. But also, I saw them eat it like you would cold cereal. They cook it and then pour milk all over it until it is floating. I was quite confused when I saw this, but maybe it is not that uncommon. I guess you can also cook it in milk too instead of water.

And for add ins - the sky is the limit. We like to add bananas, applesauce, raisins, berries, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spices, etc.

If you just can't bring yourself to eat it at breakfast, you can always try to work it into your baking. I like to substitute 3/4 cups of oatmeal for 1/2 cup of flour in my baked goods.

I would love to hear any oatmeal suggestions or favorites you might have. Please leave some comments if you have any!

I guess the point is that oatmeal is really good for you, and it isn't terribly expensive. With a bit of tinkering around, hopefully it can be worked into diets a bit more - including our family's.

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9 comments:

Cara said...

Do you know if the oats lose their nutrients when made into granola? I don't mind oatmeal, but prefer granola. But I also know things can lose their healthy-ness. What do you think?

sugarcreekfarm said...

I pour milk over my oatmeal, too :) Right now I'm eating the instant oatmeal packets by Kashi, but hopefully once farmers market is over and I have a "day off" again I want to experiment with something more homemade.

My cholesterol story is here.

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

Cara-
I'm not really sure how granola is made so I'm not sure about how it effects the oats. I've been wanting to try to make some, but don't have a recipe. Do you have a good one? :)

Here are some thoughts that might help though - I know some vitamins disperse in water, so if you dump the water you cook things in, you are dumping some vitamins. Also, some vitamins are broken down through heat, although others are made more available through heat. The post I made has a link to which vitamins and minerals are in oatmeal so you might be able to find out how certain processes effect them.

As for the fiber, which is one of the best parts of oatmeal, I think that stays a bit more stable, but I may be wrong.

I do know that if you crush it further, it stays more nutritious if you use it right away.

I don't know if any of that helps. Maybe someone else might be able to comment more on it . . .

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

Sugarcreekfarm-
Thanks for your cholesterol story. I shared it with my husband to encourage him. Maybe I'll have to try mine with milk too.

Blair Family. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blair Family. said...

A thought on granola and oats. I don't really know if the oats lose some of their nutrients when you make granola but you could also boost the nutrients in the granola to make up for it by adding Flaxseed or Wheat Germ. I often try to hide flax seed in oatmeal, applesauce and different things when I make them because it is so good for you.

Ooo...just found this article. I don't know who Dr. Gourmet is but here is what he has to say :) http://www.drgourmet.com/askdrgourmet/granola-oatmeal.shtml

Cara said...

I checked that website Lindsie commented about. The link didn't work, so I had to find it. He says, "It appears that there is not a great deal of difference in cooked vs. uncooked oats." And he encourages making your own granola to cut down on some of the fat in store bought granola.
Here's my recipe. You can tweak it in a million different ways.

8 c. rolled oats (old fashioned)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. wheat germ
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar

~Mix the above together in a large baking pan.

Add:
3/4 c. oil
1/3 c. water
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Bake for 1 3/4 hours at 250 degrees (stirring every 20 minutes).
Cool on a paper towel.

Randy said...

My wife and I just put soak our oatmeal in milk overnight in the fridge and eat it cold in the morning. The store bought "Old Fashioned" has a smoother texture (and soaks up the milk better) than a bag of organic oatmeal that my wife bought through our food co-op. It's still ok, but the co-op stuff tastes better cooked than soaked.

Maple syrup (the real stuff, not Aunt Jemimiah's) and raisins are perfect sweeteners, though we substitute honey for syrup when we're out and peanut butter for raisins if we feel like it.

We sometimes cook or soak the oatmeal in water if we don't want to use so much milk, but it tastes better and creamier in milk (surprise!). :) Can't wait until we'll have our own raw goats milk to soak it in...yum!

We basically toast oatmeal with other dried foods to make a crumbly, trail-mix kind of granola. I made a granola bar once with corn syrup a long time ago, before I knew anything about health. I guess the honey in Cara's recipie would have the same binding effect.

Anonymous said...

I read a recipe a few months ago for steel cut oatmeal cooked overnight in a crockpot! Just wake up in the morning and breakfast is hot and ready.
I've tried steel-cut (very chewy and hard to digest, for me anyway), but apparently it's the best for scouring out your arteries. I haven't tried them in a crockpot, but it sounded pretty tasty. Everything that goes into a crockpot comes out good...er, except for salmon. :)
Julia

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