Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oatmeal is My Friend

I usually stick to pretty basic foods. My lack of cooking skills, budget for only the basics, and interest in doing other things with my time are all part of the result of my general diet: cereal, veggies, veggies, soups, and eggs. Unless someone has cooked a meal for me or I am eating out, my poor taste buds don't get much action. However, winter has brought about a few changes in my regular routine. Specifically, with the addition of oatmeal.
Sounds boring, and I guess it could just be classified with cereal, but because cold cereal doesn't sound extremely appetizing with snow outside, I picked up some Organic Oats and couldn't be more thrilled. It is a good source of fiber, which contributes to a healthy digestive system and cardiovascular health. With water, it's a bit bland. However, these possible additions make it a scrumptious, easy, quick, and healthy way to start off the day!
  • Oatmeal with brown sugar. It is slightly lower in calories than white sugar and has just enough sweetness to do the trick. Not much added nutrition from it, but a tiny pinch is okay for flavor. You could add cinnamon too, if you feel it is necessary.
  • Some protein...as in, a spoonful of protein powder. Okay, don't laugh. I usually think of those giant jugs of protein powder that bodybuilders use to make protein shakes. However, the guy I am currently seeing drinks them and added his vanilla flavored mix to some oatmeal (mostly to prove a point that it doesn't taste bad) and it turned out quite delicious. This is probably my favorite* way to eat oatmeal, as the added protein helps make for a great day! Protein builds up, maintains, and replaces the tissues in the bod. Muscles, organs, and the immune system are made up mostly of protein. I usually associate protein with meatheads, since they tend to eat nothing but protein, but remember, it does build muscle, and the heart is a (quite significant!) muscle, so get your protein in!
  • Bananas...why not add some potassium to that daily intake of fiber? Bananas also have some fiber in them, as well as protein. They have an abundance of vitamins and go perfectly well with the oats. Mush them up or leave them in slices. Either way, delish.
  • Chocolate chips! I used to make chocolate chip pancakes as a kid, but the thought of such a heavy meal in the morning makes me want to yack. Because oatmeal is so bland already, the chocolate chips are a yummy treat, although again, not much health value there. Sometimes chocolate is just necessary though!
  • Blueberries. One of the healthiest fruits out there, load them onto the oats! They are full of vitamins & anti-oxidants (according to the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, they are among the highest anti-oxidant loaded fruits). Several studies have shown them to be preventative in many diseases, in slowing the aging process by fighting off free radicals, in contributing to healthy urinary tracts, and in helping fight off bacteria, just to name a few of the benefits.
  • Rasins. Sure they are highly concentrated with sugar, but they also pack some antioxidants with them, along with small doses of other nutrients as well.
So when you prepare your oatmeal, pay no attention to the label's optional addition of salt. Forget the salt and add something a bit more substantial, nutritional, and exciting to the taste buds. These are only a few that I have tried, but really the possibilities are many!

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