When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is eat breakfast, and for me, the perfect breakfast is a bowl of crunchy cereal with milk. However, at this time of year, when it’s cold and chilly outside, I switch it up a bit and reach for something that will warm me up like a bowl of hot oatmeal.
There are lots of good things about oatmeal. One cup of cooked oatmeal contains 3 grams of soluble fiber which helps keep you satiated throughout the morning, reduces blood cholesterol levels and stabilizes blood sugars. Oatmeal also contains about 4 to 5 grams of protein per serving and is a whole grain, full of antioxidant rich vitamins and minerals. But the best part about oatmeal is dressing it up with all of your favorite topping to create your own signature bowl. Some of my favorite toppings include fresh berries, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, toasted walnuts, almonds or pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, a splash of low-fat milk and a dash of 100% pure maple syrup to make it taste delicious and prove to be the ultimate comfort food.
Kids also love oatmeal and to make it more fun and interactive, I like to set bowls on the table full of different toppings and let them create their own bowl of oatmeal to suit their liking. In a pinch, it even makes for an easy and nutritious dinner.
But be aware that not all oats are exactly the same. There are steel cut, old fashioned or rolled oats and instant oats. Steel cuts oats are the least processed. The whole oats are simply cut into thirds using a steel blade. Since they are not precooked or flattened, steel cuts oats have a coarser and chewier texture and require the longest cooking time. Rolled oats are pre-steamed and then rolled to give them a flatter shape and quicker cooking time and instant oats are partially cooked and rolled thin and often packaged with added salt, sugar and flavorings – on average about 9 grams of sugar per serving compared to 1 gram of sugar in non-flavored oatmeal. Although all varieties have nutritional benefits, the less added sugar and sodium the better.