Oatmeal always reminds me of my childhood. I remember ripping open packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal that smelled like Heaven (aka Strawberries and Cream) on chilly Ohio mornings. Talk about comfort food! For most of us, when we think about oatmeal, this is typically what comes to mind. These days, I am happy to say I’ve stepped up my oatmeal game quite considerably from those little packets. Oatmeal in its natural state actually touts a number of health benefits, a few of which are especially helpful for women! In order to get the full benefits from oats, we need to toss the little brown packets and eat oats in their least processed form. Oats are a whole grain and if you get them steel cut, they’re super easy to make for breakfast or incorporate into your cooking.
Let’s break it down.
- Rich in soluble-fiber, specifically beta-glucan
- High in protein (compared to other grains)
- High in complex carbohydrates, giving a low glycemic index
- Low in fat
- Gluten-free (Depending on processing! Always read your labels!)
- May help to increase lactation in nursing mothers
- May help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
What does all that mean?!
ALL HAIL OATS! Just kidding. In all seriousness, though, oats are basically a dream come true. The combination of soluble fiber and complex carbohydrates means you will feel fuller longer, while also reducing LDL and total cholesterol, reducing blood sugar and insulin response, and encouraging healthy gut bacteria growth. The high fiber content can also help, eh-hem, keep things moving within your digestive tract. For nursing mothers, oats have been said to be a galactagogue, meaning they increase milk production. You can add in the fact that they are a great source of the antioxidant avenanthramides, which help to dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow, and are anti-inflammatory.
All that being said, here are a few of our favorite recipes for including oats in our daily regime:
>>Overnight Oats: quick and easy to prep ahead of time and grab in a pinch! You can find some awesome variations to get you started at http://wholefully.com/2016/03/07/8-classic-overnight-oats-recipes-you-should-try/
>>Homemade Granola Bars: You can really do ANYTHING here, but my favorites tend to include chocolate. The mininamlist baker has a great 5 ingredient granola bar recipe here: http://minimalistbaker.com/healthy-5-ingredient-granola-bars/
>>Homemade Granola: Perfect for topping oatmeal, subbing for cereal in your milk, or just as a snack. Chocolate + peanut butter + oats = perfection. Easy granola recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/01/21/chocolate-peanut-butter-lovers-granola/
>>Oatmeal cookies or muffins that include oats: There are tons of bake and no-bake cookie options out there (like these three-ingredient treats: http://thebigmansworld.com/2016/01/13/healthy-3-ingredient-no-bake-oatmeal-cookies/ ), and muffins offer an alterntive flavor profile. Try these banana muffins over at: http://cookieandkate.com/2015/healthy-banana-muffins-recipe/ they’re especially tasty with a few dark chocolate chips thrown in! ;)
All oat facts found from: