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Enjoy oatmeal - anytime of the day or evening

December 12, 2007|By LYNN LITTLE

Oatmeal may be an old-fashioned hot cereal; however, it is also nutritious food that can be used for more than just breakfast. Eating a bowl of oatmeal keeps you feeling full - this can lead to less snacking between meals. Oatmeal offers an impressive array of health benefits:

  • Reducing cholesterol levels. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal a day (from 3/4 cup dry oatmeal) provides enough beta glucan (a soluble fiber found in oatmeal) to significantly reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • Maintaining blood glucose levels. The soluble fiber in oatmeal slows the rate of glucose absorption into the bloodstream. This is especially important for people with diabetes.

  • Lowering blood pressure. A recent study found that, when adults whose hypertension was controlled by medication ate enough oatmeal and oat cereal every day to get 11.7 g of oat fiber (roughly 3 servings), there was a significant drop in blood pressure. Their cholesterol levels also dropped.



Oatmeal is a great addition to your diet. Enjoy it anytime!

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Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

Try these easy recipes, using oatmeal in new and different ways:

Whole-Grain Muffins to Go



Make the large batch of dry muffin mix and store it in the refrigerator to bake muffins a dozen at a time. Ounce for ounce, these contain 100 less calories and 2 more grams of fiber than a bagel.

Dry mix for 3 dozen whole-grain muffins:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups whole-wheat flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup ground flax seeds (may substitute equal parts ground oatmeal and wheat germ for flax)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup wheat germ

Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in a large sealed container in your refrigerator until you are ready to bake muffins.

For one dozen muffins:

2 cups fat-free milk
3 1/3 cups dry mix (above)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or other small bits of fruit - peach, raspberries or diced apples
1/4 cup pured prunes (add last - can use baby food)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray nonstick muffin pan with cooking oil spray or use paper liners. Place milk, dry milk and vanilla in a large bowl and mix well. Add the dry mix and stir until thoroughly blended. Fold in the fruit last. Scoop muffins using a one-third cup measure. Bake immediately for 18 to 20 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and turn muffins onto a rack to cool.

Nutrition information per muffin: 150 calories, 3 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0.8 mg cholesterol, 179 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein.




Chunky Tomato Vegetable Soup



1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups low-sodium tomato juice
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put the oats in a heavy saucepan. Stirring frequently, toast them over moderate heat until they start to turn darker. Move the oats to a bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in the same saucepan and saut the onion, carrot and garlic until the onion softens. Stir in the remaining ingredients, including the toasted oats. Simmer until the oats are tender - about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Nutrition information per serving: 121 calories, 4 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 272 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g fiber, 3 g protein.




Strawberry-Banana Smoothie



1/2 cup orange juice
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup rolled oats
6 to 8 ounces strawberry low-fat (or nonfat) yogurt

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth.

Serves 1.

Nutrition information per serving: 383 calories, 3 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 144 mg sodium, 80 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 16 g protein.

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