by Michelle Jones
Having oatmeal for breakfast every morning, or at least a few times a week, is not only good for your heart, but it's good for your wallet too. Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber and one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to add healthy foods to your diet.
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Here are some tips for buying and cooking oatmeal and variations to try:
* You can buy the store brand of Quick or Old Fashioned oats which can cost half as much as the national brand and taste just as good. (Though my husband says he can taste the differenece and Quaker is still better!)
* Old Fashioned oats are the healthier choice (more fiber) and can even be cooked in the microwave.
Microwave Old Fashioned Oatmeal Recipe: For 2 servings, place 1 cup of Old Fashioned oats, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and 2 cups of water in microwave bowl. Cook for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes. Add butter, sugar, milk, or any other added ingredients desired (see list of suggestions below).
* Don't waste your money on small packages of "instant" oatmeal unless they go on sale for a really great price. You can also save money by buying the large canister of Quick oats and making your own 'instant' packages using plastic zip bags.
Homemade Instant (Quick) Oatmeal Packets: Place desired amount of Quick oats (1/2 cup = one individual serving) in plastic zip bag or other small airtight container. Add a pinch of salt, sugar, and any other dried fruit, nuts, or flavoring. When ready to eat, empty oat mixture into bowl, stir in water or milk (1 cup of liquid per serving), then cook in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.
* Oats are a nutritious addition to cookies and baked goods (muffins, loaf breads, cobblers, etc.), adding fiber to an otherwise less healthy snack. Plus, if you keep oats on hand for breakfast you're more likely to use them for baking at other times too. Example: If a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, try using 1 cup flour and 1 cup oats. Or, 1 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup oats. You can blend the oats in a food processor to make them more fine like flour, or toss them in whole.
Here's a list of different ingredients you can add to your morning oatmeal for an extra tasty flavoring (or increased nutritional value).
Suggested Oatmeal Additions/Variations
Flavored pancake syrups like blueberry, strawberry, blackberry,
Cinnamon or cinnamon sugar
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Fresh fruit; apple, banana, peach, pear, fresh berries
Dried fruit: raisins, pinapple, mango, cranberries
Half and half
Dry milk powder
Butter, butter flavoring
Turkey sausage or bacon
Other health food items
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See also Oats with Fruit and Yogurt Recipe