Sunday, September 8, 2013

Oatmeal for Breakfast

My staple breakfast favorite

For grownups, breakfast is necessary to help us perform at our best. For children, it’s even more crucial than that. Skipping that first meal of the day creates a stoppage in the constant flow of energy and nutrients needed by their growing bodies and developing brains. Surprising as it sounds, not breaking their fast when they should creates a period of semi-starvation that can lead to physical, mental and behavioral problems.

My personal breakfast-of-choice is a bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with raw honey and smothered with almonds, walnuts, and a variety of seeds. In a future post, I'm going to tell you all about that collage of nutty flavors in that picture above that keeps each mouthful an unpredictable treat. It's a surefire way of keeping breakfast from getting boring.

I don’t use just any kind of oatmeal. I stick to old-fashioned slow cooking rolled oats – which are oat groats (oat kernel with the hull removed) that have been steamed, rolled out and flattened. 

Oatmeal is an excellent source of fiber, and studies show that the unique fiber in oatmeal called beta gluten helps the body fight off infections better, thus enhancing overall immunity against diseases. The fiber also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, so it will help ease those mid-morning cravings.

Keep in mind, not all oatmeal are alike. Although nutritionally speaking, instant and slow-cooking oats are about neck and neck, instant oatmeal has a higher glycemic index, which is why I avoid it. Diabetes runs in my family, and so far, I’ve done a good job of avoiding it. Old-fashioned oats have a glycemic index of 55 (classified as low GI) compared to 83 for instant oatmeal (classified as high GI). Quick-cooking oats fall in the medium GI range. I also prefer rolled oats’ chewier texture that makes eating it more of a pleasure. 

In addition, many instant oatmeal variants have some undesirable additives—such as sugar, hydrogenated oil, artificial flavoring and salt. Always check out the fine print at the back that lists any added ingredients.

Few people know that non-dairy creamer is a trans fat source

Acesulfame K is an artificial sweetener suspected to be a carcinogen

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