Love for Oatmeal by Kath Younger in Healthy Every Week Challenge, January 4, 2012
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We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers and healthy eating advocates to host a Healthy Every Week Challenge, a month-long initiative to develop healthy eating habits. The plan an is to develop a manageable healthy habit each week that will carry through the new year. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #gethealthy.
My favorite breakfast is a hot bowl of whipped banana oatmeal sprinkled with granola and a spoonful of melty nut butter. I fell in love with oats just after I started blogging the three meals a day I eat at KathEats.com. Oats keep me full with soluble fiber and protein (a serving of oats has as much protein as an egg!) and satisfy my hunger with their volume and creamy texture.. From the unlimited amount of toppings on top of a plain bowl of oatmeal to blended and cooked recipes, nutritious and filling oats never get boring.
My technique for cooking oatmeal minimizes the gelatinous mush you might remember from your childhood and maximizes creaminess. Instead of boiling water and then adding oats, I add equal parts milk (any kind), water and oats along with a pinch of salt and set to medium heat. Stir as needed and your oats will be extra creamy in less than 5 minutes. Many factors work together to reduce gelatinization and let the oats release their creamy starches: agitation from stirring, milk proteins and a lower temperature. I use old fashioned rolled oats in my recipes because I find them to be creamier than the steel cut variety, but if you’re a steel cut fanatic, Alton Brown has mastered that technique.
Whipped Banana Oatmeal
By far my most popular recipe is my whipped banana oatmeal. A few years ago my husband put a banana into our pot of oats and stirred and stirred. The product was magical – naturally sweetened oatmeal with a super creamy texture. Ever since we have been thinly slicing bananas and stirring them into oats made with half milk, half water and a pinch of salt. Oatmeal without banana is just not the same!
A great way to enjoy oats in thousands of different ways is to experiment with toppings and mix-ins.
Some favorite foods to mix near the end of cooking in include: canned pumpkin, cooked grains like wheat berries, chia seeds, cottage cheese, brewed tea, a whole egg, egg nog, flavored milk or yogurt.
Topping ideas are endless: Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, granola, nut and seed butters, jams, coconut flakes or coconut butter, a fried egg, crumbled bacon, flavored syrups and more.
You can see hundreds of topping ideas on my Tribute To Oatmeal page.
If you’re short on time in the mornings or don’t want to dirty a pot, overnight oats might suit your fancy. Instead of using heat to soften the oats, the overnight recipe allows them to soak in moisture. Mix together equal parts milk, yogurt and oats in a container and store in fridge overnight. In the morning, add fruit or toppings as you wish and enjoy cold.
Raw or cooked oats transform smoothies from snacks into meals. The addition of whole grains (including their fiber!) means your smoothie will be more satisfying. Raw oats give smoothies a wonderful doughy texture – soak your smoothie ingredients together before blending to get the ultimate dough-boy flavor. I like to add ¼ – 1/3 cup oats to my smoothies and pour them in a bowl to eat with a spoon. Eating my smoothies soup-style means my breakfast lasts longer and the addition of some crunchy toppings gives each bite a variety of textures.
Raspberry Blast Oat Smoothie (above)
Pumpkin Graham Oat Smoothie (above)
Oats give wonderful texture to pancakes as well. You can either blend them in a food processor to create a sweet whole-grain flour or add them to pancake mixes or recipes to give your ‘cakes some texture. This recipe for Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes by Rachael Ray makes for one delicious breakfast.
And of course, if cookies brighten your day, you can have oats for dessert too.
Kath Younger, RD writes a popular healthy food blog read by over 15,000 visitors a day from around the world. Kath Eats Real Food, which you’ll find at www.KathEats.com, is a celebration of life through the lens of food. Kath writes about everything from recipes to organization tips to encouraging readers to try new “real” foods, including wheatberries, kale chips, chia seeds, and her famous whipped banana oatmeal. Having lost over 30 pounds after graduating from college, Kath is a Registered Dietitian and owns a Great Harvest Bread Company with her husband in Charlottesville, VA. She has been writing KERF since 2007.