Oatmeal may well be boring, but it ranks extraordinarily high on my list of favorite things. Give me an oatmeal cookie any day and you will find a happy girl. Oatmeal muffins? Yep, those do the trick too. And how about that crumble on top of the Blueberry Macadamia Crumble? Most definitely my favorite part. Add in the fact that "studies have shown" that those people who eat more oatmeal are less likely to develop heart disease and you have a true winner!
I've been told that oatmeal for breakfast is good for cold, wintery mornings - the steaming bowl of oatmeal goodness being the perfect solution to chilly bones. While oatmeal does indeed warm you to the bones, I enjoy the steaming bowl topped with cinnamon and walnuts year round. However... the same old bowl most every day does tend to get a bit old.
Spicing up my morning dose of oats I turned to a phial of ground vanilla, basically a vanilla powder giving off a most delightful tropical scent. A present from a foodie friend recently returned from Paris who thought of me as she visited a well stocked spice market, I've been searching for new uses for my new found treasure, and my morning oatmeal definitely benefited. With comments of "Kim... you really need to go to Paris!" still bouncing around my head, I settled instead for a beautifully spiced oatmeal to start my sunny summer morning.
Basic rolled oats stirred with a touch of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg received just the flavor boost they needed with a simple sprinkle of the floral vanilla powder. Regular vanilla extract would indeed work the same magic, bringing a boring bowl of oatmeal up to a new level and bringing just a bit of a tropical feel to your summer morning.
Vanilla Spiced Oatmeal
This is one of those recipes that you sort of add as you go along based on what you have on hand and what your personal preference is. I've outlined a sample of what I do in the morning, and the measurements in the directions are what I use for two servings of oatmeal.
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
vanilla powder (or extract)
fruit to garnish (we like strawberries, blueberries or raisins)
Prepare oatmeal according to package directions for the amount of servings you would like. As the oats are nearly finished, stir a Tablespoon or two of brown sugar into the pot, allowing the sugar to get "melty" and combine with the oats. Add a generous 1/8 of a tsp of cinnamon and a pinch or two of nutmeg, stirring again. When oats are done, remove from heat and sprinkle with a few pinches of vanilla powder, or stir in a scant 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract.
Ladle into serving bowls and top with your favorite fruits and nuts. Serve with milk and additional brown sugar if desired.
Note: go lightly on the spices to start, it's easier to add more than it is to take out!
Oats are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
According to the American Cancer Society:
1. Insoluble fiber's cancer-fighting properties are due to the fact that it attacks certain bile acids, reducing their toxicity.
2. Soluble fiber may reduce LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL cholesterol. LDL is bad; HDL is good.
3. Soluble fiber slows down the digestion of starch. This may be beneficial to diabetics because, when you slow down the digestion of starch, you avoid the sharp rises in your blood sugar level that usually occur following a meal.
4. It has been found that those who eat more oats are less likely to develop heart disease, a disease that is currently widespread in the United States.
5. The phytochemicals in oat may also have cancer-fighting properties.
6. Oats are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oats are also a good source of protein.