Sunday, January 24, 2016

Healthy Eating in 2016: Oatmeal to Go

One of the resolutions that I (and probably 1.6 billion other people) made for 2016 is to eat more healthy. For me, that means more home cooked meals with a focus on vegetables, fruits, selected whole grains, and less animal-based protein choices. With that in mind, I'll be posting some of the meals that worked for me and have been incorporated into my routine.
Steel-cut (or Irish) oatmeal is a breakfast item I've been eating for years. I learned about the benefits of steel-cut oatmeal when I was following The Zone Diet, which taught me that cooked oatmeal is a food-based source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an essential fatty acid helpful in reducing inflammation in the body. Now that we know inflammation contributes to multiple disease processes, anything that lessens it is a good thing, IMO. Of course, there are multiple other benefits from oats, such as helping to stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, enhance immune response, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (source).  But remember: steel-cut over instant oatmeal, always.
However, steel-cut oatmeal takes a good 20 minutes to cook, which means I frequently only eat it on the weekend when I've got a more leisurely morning schedule. I recently cleaned out my kitchen cabinets and rediscovered some small ball jars that are perfect for on the go servings, which prompted me to take oatmeal with me during my more rushed weekday mornings.

Here's how I make my oatmeal:
1-1/4 cup water
1/4 cup steel cut oats (I get Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats from Big Lots)
frozen blueberries
1 scoop protein powder (currently using Genisoy protein powder)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
sprinkle of brown sugar (optional)

After cooking the oats for 20 minutes or so, I put in the almond milk, protein powder, blueberries, walnuts and cinnamon and cook for another few minutes. I function better with protein at each meal and fat is needed to absorb fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K, so I always include some as well.  Plus, it helps me stay full longer. If I don't have nuts on hand I will add a bit of avocado oil.
The oatmeal can be cooking while I'm getting ready and then I just put it in the ball jar and hit the road.  Since it's a glass container, heating it up in the microwave at work is quick and easy if I have an early meeting and can't eat it first thing.  There are also lots of crock-pot based oatmeal recipes that you can make that will give you servings for an entire week, making it even easier for a fast breakfast on the go. So, on those weekday mornings where I'm craving something hot and hardy, I'm all set!

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