Why oatmeal is the new ‘Oh!’

Here is why you should eat oatmeal, with instructions for making it tasty.

Steel cut oatmeal (photo credit: Courtesy)
Steel cut oatmeal
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The rain and cold that has finally arrived makes us want to be cozy and warm, wrapped up eating heavier foods like cake and comforting carbs like potatoes. Yet, there’s a healthier solution that is easy to prepare and that is hot and delicious. Here is the complete guide to making a really delicious bowl of healthy oatmeal.

Winter is finally here, so naturally people crave warmer, sweeter foods loaded with carbs. Oatmeal is a great, nutritious way to meet this winter need, so we  prepared instructions for you to make the perfect porridge.

Why oats?

Oatmeal is a grain with numerous nutritional benefits. It’s a source of vitamins, minerals, plant protein and antioxidants. Also, oats are rich in dietary fibers including beta-glucan, a water-soluble dietary fiber. It’s been proven that eating foods with beta-glucan can reduce cholesterol levels and the chance of heart disease, makes you feel satiated, and helps your body digest food.

Which oatmeal to choose?

OK, you’re going to make oatmeal.  When you run to the supermarket to buy it, you see two types: whole/thick oats (steel cut) and instant. The difference between the two is the level of processing.  Instant goes through a second  processing step which takes off a hard, fibrous layer. This is why it cooks faster.

 What goes in your oats?

To cook the porridge use liquid that you choose according to taste, preferences and nutritional needs. Use water, milk or half of each. If you avoid cow's milk for allergies or because you’re vegan, use a plant-based milk. Soy milk boosts protein levels, almond milk has fewer carbs and oat milk will enrich oatmeal with more dietary fiber. Preparation 

If you’re an oatmeal newbie, cook it on the stove with a 1:2 ratio (a cup of liquid over half a cup of oatmeal). Gradually add liquids to get your perfect texture. Bring liquids together, boil until it slightly bubbles, then cook over low heat while stirring until it looks good.

Use a microwave to cook quickly. Place the oats and liquid in a bowl and put in the microwave for two minutes. Use a deep bowl, at least double the height of the oats, otherwise the porridge may flow over the sides and make a mess.

If you don’t have the strength to make porridge every morning, prepare it in advance, refrigerate and heat when needed.

What to throw in?

We’re too special to eat plain oatmeal. Toppings give extra flavor and nutrition, and turn boring oatmeal into a fun, healthy meal. Here are some winning options.

1 - Healthy fat

Fat slows the rate of gastric emptying, so adding healthy fats from plants will enhance texture and make you feel full. Add natural peanut butter or raw tahini. If you prefer a crunchy texture try adding a handful of almonds, nuts or seeds.

2 - Fruit

Slice fruit over the porridge before or during cooking. If oatmeal is your regular breakfast, choose different fruits since each has its own nutritional benefits. Fruit sweetens naturally, so use fruit instead of sugar. Use mashed banana or unsweetened applesauce.

3 - Spices

Oatmeal and cinnamon are a great combination. But it's always fun to get out of the box so try adding turmeric, ginger, nutmeg or cloves.

4 - Protein

Oats are rich in plant protein compared to other grains, but to increase  protein intake, or make the porridge richer and more satisfying, add a few tablespoons of yogurt when it’s ready.

Gil Avidor-Aloni is a food blogger and consultant on changing eating habits. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Tel Aviv University and a health coach certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. This article first appeared on the Jerusalem Post sister site, Walla!

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