The fall season is officially upon us, despite what the outdoor thermometer is saying (is it really 90 degrees outside right now???) And with September as Whole Grains Month, I’d like to shine a spotlight on my favorite whole grain: oatmeal.
While autumn’s crisp morning air might motivate me to cook up some oatmeal for breakfast, the truth is that oatmeal is a year-round staple in my house. It’s one of my favorite foods because it’s so nutritious and versatile. I use it mostly in these three ways:
- As a basis for my recipe for the most perfect oatmeal.
I gotta admit, overnight oats makes for Instagram-worthy photos with pretty mason jars and colorful toppings, but the trend is totally lost on me. The whole process of making hot oatmeal in the morning takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish, so I never felt the need to prep it the night before. Besides, when I make oatmeal, it’s to warm me both inside and out, starting with my hands as I cup the piping hot bowl. I’ll sit there with my bowl, breathing in the cinnamon-y aroma while the oatmeal itself cools just enough so it won’t burn my tongue. As it cools it transforms to a gelatinous, thick porridge that’s both hearty and nutritious.
- In place of breadcrumbs when making meatloaf.
I wish I could take credit for this genius idea, but I got the recipe from a cookbook many years ago. This same recipe introduced me to the idea of using muffin tins beyond making actual muffins, well before it became trendy. When you use oatmeal in place of breadcrumbs, the result is a meatloaf that’s a little more fluffy, but also a little less stable. Still, it’s very yummy!
- To add toothiness to my smoothies. Just add a scoop of uncooked dry oats – so easy!
I can’t remember how I came across this idea, but this is one of my favorite concoctions, especially as a post-run smoothie. I love green smoothies using kale or spinach as a base, but then the rest is similar to my Most Perfect Oatmeal recipe: ½ cup frozen berries, ½ frozen banana, ½ cup kefir or milk, ½ cup almondmilk or water, 1/3 cup dried old-fashioned oats, dash of cinnamon and vanilla, and voila! Sometimes I add almonds for extra protein.
What I love most about oatmeal is that it’s inexpensive and superbly nutritious. It’s a good source of fiber, and the type of fiber (beta-glucan) has been proven to lower cholesterol. It’s also low in fat and sodium – all the markers of a heart-healthy food. For all this nutrition, I can make about 30 bowls of oatmeal using a $4 canister. And, because I’m making oatmeal from just rolled oats, I’m in charge of how much sugar to add (or not).
If you have a favorite or unique way of using oatmeal, please share!
Disclosure: none. I do not work with any oat companies or brands. All opinions and messages are my own.