After two years of blogging (yes! Cucina Bella turned 2 yesterday! YIPPEEEE! Who knew this on-a-whim experiment with food writing would last this long?!?), it should be no surprise that I am finding the need to return to subjects I’ve touched on before. Specifically, oatmeal.
I originally wrote about oatmeal for Fit Fare (before I was the editor of that site) and then later sold a similar story to Associated Content. The gist? Oatmeal is so, so good for you. It’s a grain that is rich in fiber, which is great for digestion. Oprah turned me onto steel-cut oats, which are the tops for nutrition, but I am still a really big fan of rolled oats.
What’s so good about oatmeal? Well, oatmeal is rich in a type of fiber called soluble fiber. Soluble fiber isn’t digested by the body (neither is insoluble fiber) but it does turn to a jelly-like substance that binds to fatty compounds and moves things along. You know, as in out. It’s good for lowering cholesterol (including so-called “bad cholesterol” – LDL cholesterol) and also regulating blood sugar (particularly important for people with diabetes). A good resource that explains the differences between the types of fiber can be found here.
Oatmeal is also a good way to fill up in the morning if you are trying to lose weight, which I will be soon enough. But if you are like me, then you probably prefer flavored varieties to the bland canister one. Fortunately, it’s not hard to transform plain oatmeal into a flavorful delight. This recipe is great because it’s very fast and easy (particularly if you have a nifty apple corer like me . . . what an awesome purchase that was!!!).
1 cup apple cider
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and cubed
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
sweetener such as honey, white sugar, brown sugar or Splenda, to taste (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine the apple cider, water, lemon juice and apple and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add oatmeal, cinnamon and salt and stir together. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.
Add in sweetener, if desired, just before serving (this oatmeal is sweet already, so you may not need it — Will and I like ours a little bit sweeter though).
- raisins – add 2 tbsp-1/4 cup when oatmeal is added
- pears – substitute a pear for the apple
- strawberries – add to the water mixture or substitute for the apple
- blueberries – same as strawberries
- almonds – add 2 tbsp when oatmeal is added
This is a pretty local dish for me. The apple, apple cider and of course water are all very local ingredients. Oatmeal falls into my exception category, so this qualifies as my Dark Days Challenge meal for last week. Click here to find out more about the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge, created by Urban Hennery.