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Healthy Recipe Doctor

with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Elaine Magee's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Friday, January 14, 2011

National Oatmeal Month

oatmeal with blueberries

iStockphoto

Let’s celebrate by cooking up a bowl!

It’s National Oatmeal month.  If you don’t often choose oatmeal as your winter breakfast, this is a great time to enjoy some hot oatmeal. Given the cold weather outside for most Americans each January, it’s not surprising that we buy more oatmeal in January than any other month. Most Americans have oats or oatmeal in their kitchen pantry so there’s no excuse not to try it.

Oats have history.
They were one of the earliest cereals cultivated by man.  The Ancient Greeks used it to make porridge while people during the Bronze Age fed it to their horse and cattle. At other times in history, oats were used only for medicinal purposes. They became a staple grain in Scotland because the climate there is more conducive to growing oats than wheat.

Oats have nutritional game.
Oats were one of the first foods to be granted approval by the FDA for a food-specific health claim. The claim introduced the link between oats and a reduced risk of heart disease. Research only continues to add evidence to the health benefits of eating oats!

For more information on the nutritional attributes to oats, read my tip, Why You Should Eat More Oats.

The International Cooking Instructions for Oatmeal
Oats are transformed into breakfast very differently depending on which country you are in.

The Scottish Way:
Scots traditionally let the oats sit overnight in salted water. In the morning they cook the oats for a few minutes over low heat until the mixture thickens.

The German & Swiss Way:

Historically in this part of the world, people are known to combine oats with milk, honey and spices and soak in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, fruit and nuts are stirred into the mixture and eaten uncooked.

The Vermont Way:
Many years ago (when most of the citizens of Vermont had morning farm chores), the traditional way of preparing oatmeal was to soak the oats overnight in water with a pinch of salt and some maple syrup. First thing in the morning, spices would be added (nutmeg, cinnamon and/or ginger) and while morning chores were being completed, the oats would cook over low heat. The oatmeal was traditionally be served with cream, milk or butter.

So what’s the take away message to this winter blog? Oats are even better for us than we thought they were a decade ago.  There are several ways to incorporate them into our diet. We can put them to work right now by including them as a breakfast or snack several times a week.

Posted by: Elaine Magee, RD at 7:47 am

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