January is "Oatmeal Month", a factoid I somehow missed at the time. With all the advertising about crunchy, sugared, colored, fun-filled dry cereals, we tend to forget that sometimes basic is best (and most economical, too). Oatmeal has been a staple in the human diet for centuries, and with good reason. A hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning does wonders not only for the body but for the psyche. Take your choice of additives: raisins, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, apple chunks, berries, sliced peaches, or of course milk. My great-aunt Amelia Hine used to eat hers with butter and brown sugar. The rest of the family, when I was small, usually used a little top milk, rich with cream. Who knew about cholesterol then?
What's top milk? Milk wasn't homogenized years ago, and the cream, like all fats being lighter than water or milk, rose to the top.
We'd had a pint-size white crockery pitcher ever since I was born, and just looking at it always gave me a warm, loved feeling. When we brought in the milk bottles from the porch every other morning, Mother would pour off the top part, including most of the cream, into this pitcher . In winter when the milkman delivered an hour or more before we got up, the milk would start to freeze and expand. The cream, being at the narrowest top part of the bottle, would get cold and firm. The milk would then pop its little round cardboard seal, the cream rising in a column an inch or two high with a paper top hat. When this happened, we'd remove the "hat" and scrape this off into the pitcher first.
Mornings, Mother took the small pitcher out first thing and put it on top of the Frigidaire, the highest and warmest surface in the kitchen. When the oatmeal was ready, the top milk would have lost some of its icy chill. One time when we sat down to eat our cereal, my father poured on some top milk for all of us, and as he served himself last, out plopped a drowned mouse which had climbed in while the pitcher was warming. Needless to say, none of us ate oatmeal that morning except aunt Amelia, who slathered on more butter and munched away with a satisfied smirk.
This quite put me off oatmeal for awhile and I never had the same feeling about that pitcher, either. I liked my morning porridge too much to stop eating it, though, and a good thing, according to the latest news about this humble food.
Dr. Weil answers a query about the latest studies (supported by the Quaker Oats people) that oatmeal helps you lose weight. Question:
His answer (now not online) was positive, and he exlains other beneficial effects of oatmeal and a few other foods on lowering "bad" cholesterol.
Other reports at Third Age show the benefit of oatmeal. In Oatmeal: Old Fashioned Therapy:
In another article, Oatmeal Is Great Diet Food, a Third-Ager writes about the research:
Oatmeal is one of the foods considered by many to be a "superfood". See this reprint from the Quaker Oats Company, Nutrition Superstars. Other information on its nutritional benefits can be found at the Quaker site.
Old Fashioned oatmeal, cooked barely as long as called for, has a satisfying slightly chewy texture and takes only about 5 minutes to cook after the water is boiling. Quick Oats takes less time, and has a slightly creamier consistency. No time to cook in the morning? Instant oatmeal in packets is a great timesaver, and has most of the nutritional benefits of old fashioned. You can even make your own "instant oatmeal" to save money and control the flavors and ingredients. The kids can fix their own in the microwave! No excuse not to breakfast.
You don't even have to eat oatmeal cereal to enjoy the health benefits. Sneak oatmeal into muffins, meatloaf and other dishes. You can also utilize oat bran; used in baking it makes a lighter product than wheat bran does and is high-fiber, something very few of us get enough of.. See the famous Classic Meatloaf recipe at Quaker Oats.
Make Oatmeal Surprise Cookies, a Sneaky Kitchen lower-fat treat.
If extreme low-fat isn't a priority, try these cookies by Mary Lou Cook of Welches, Oregon, a first-prize winner in the Quaker Oats Annual Recipe Contest: Celestial Oatmeal Cookies. They're full of healthy and mouth-watering ingredients; fantastic for holidays and irresistible anytime.
Make the low-fat Blueberry Oat Muffins from Quaker; this has instructions for making them sugar free for diabetics as well.
Other recipes using oatmeal can be found at Quaker's site.
Eat more of this healthy whole grain. Maybe there's a reason that the old description of a healthy, lively, frisky person or animal is "He's feeling his oats!"
What are your thoughts?
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