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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

National Oatmeal Month

Oatmeal is certainly a grain that needs some celebrating! It is touted to lower cholesterol, prevent and even cure constipation, dry up hives and rashes when added to bathwater, and provide long-lasting energy throughout the day when consumed for breakfast. In my opinion, this is a true superfood! I encourage you to add oats to your weekly diet and think of new ways to sneak it into your recipes.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil (http://www.drweil.com):
  • Oats are sold in more forms than any other.
  • All forms of oats are high in a kind of fiber called beta-glucan, which has special cholesterol-lowering properties; studies have shown that those with high cholesterol have lowered their total level by 8 to 23 percent simply by consuming 3 grams of this soluble fiber (the amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) per day.
  • Oats have a higher fat content than other grains and can go rancid more easily as a result.
  • These are the four basic types of oats:
    • Oat groats ("whole" oats) are the most intact form; only the outermost inedible hull is removed.
    • Steel-cut oats (also known as Irish or pinhead oats) are simply oat groats that have been cut into two or three pieces with steel blades, slightly decreasing their cooking time. Oat groats and steel-cut oats are the least processed. They take a long time to cook but result in a chewy, lower-glycemic treat.
    • Rolled oats are the result when oat groats are steamed, flattened, and dried. This is the form most people know. Though somewhat processed, rolled oats are still a whole grain. I don't recommend eating oats that have been processed any further than this, such as quick-cooking or instant oats. They are no longer whole, intact grains, and instant oatmeal packets often contain copious amounts of salt, sugar, and other additives.
  • Oat bran—the finely ground meal of oat groats' bran layer—though not technically a whole grain, has the health benefits of one with its high fiber and low starch content. It makes a good addition to other foods, especially baked goods. Despite its short cooking time and smooth texture, it won't spike blood sugar levels, thanks to its soluble fiber.

Below is a fantastic recipe for busy families. Be sure to refrigerate your final product! Since they are made from fresh ingredients, they have a shelf life! (Side note: I add in a 1/4 cup of soy protein to up the protein content of each bar. However, you will need to had a touch more of milk or applesauce.) Enjoy!

Oatmeal On-the-Go Bars (makes 18 bars)
http://weelicious.com/2010/03/01/oatmeal-on-the-go-bars/

Ingredients
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk (any kind of milk — rice, almond, soy, cow's — will work)
3 tablespoons agave
1/2 cup applesauce
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries, and/or cherries)
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds, and/or pepitas)

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the first five dry ingredients in a bowl, and stir to combine.
  3. Mix the milk, applesauce, egg, agave, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stir to combine, and then stir in the dried fruits and nuts.
  5. Pour the oatmeal mixture into a buttered or greased 7x11-inch baking dish.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until thickened and golden.
  7. Cool, cut into squares, and serve.

*Allow to cool, cut into squares, and place in a Ziploc bag to freeze up to 4 months. When ready, allow to defrost in fridge for 24–48 hours.

*Refrigerating the bars will make them last up to five days.

Post submitted by Marisa from The Mommies Network's Content Team

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