During the cold winter months, there are very few things more enjoyable than cozying up to a hot steaming bowl of something delicious. Many people immediately think of soup, which is totally understandable. But when was the last time you enjoyed a big bowl of oatmeal? You might be surprised to learn just how versatile and healthy this wonderful dish can be!

It Does the Body Good

Healthy food fads come and go, but oatmeal has endured for a long time. There are many benefits to keeping oatmeal as a regular part of your diet. The first benefit is the one that you feel. Oatmeal contains a high amount of fiber (about 4 grams per cooked cup), which makes you feel full for a long time and reduces your urge to snack. Oatmeal is full of soluble fiber, which is the type of dietary fiber that dissolves in water. It grabs onto stuff like bad cholesterol and moves it out of your system. Fiber also helps keep your digestive track moving and prevents constipation. If you’re well-hydrated and attentive to your diet, these are all great benefits.

Not All Oats are the Same

You are most likely familiar with instant oats and rolled oats, as these are the most marketed and easiest to cook. Oatmeal is made from whole oat kernels, known as oat groats. The amount of processing the oat groat has gone through determines what kind of oatmeal you are getting.

Instant oats are the most processed oats. They are steamed and flaked oat groats. These oats are quickly microwaved for an easy meal. You often find instant oats in pre-measured packets.

Rolled oats are steamed and rolled into flakes that are larger than instant oats. They take slightly longer to cook than instant oats, but not much more. The texture is still likely what you’re used to: a smoother, mushier texture with not a lot of coarseness.

Steel-cut oats, sometimes marketed as Irish oats, are made from the whole oat kernel and is cut up. This is a coarser texture than many Americans are used to and requires much longer to cook. Steel-cut oats make for a heartier bowl of oatmeal, and are certainly a wonderful step-up from the oatmeal you may have eaten as a kid. If you don’t like the “mushiness” of oatmeal, but are interested in giving it a try again, try this. You may like it better!

The Possibilities are Endless

In 2018, the big fad was overnight oats: oatmeal (often steel-cut) soaked overnight in a flavorful liquid (often milk or cream) and then cooked in the morning for a luxurious texture and flavorful treat. Overnight oats can also be done in the slow cooker.  For a faster application, you may consider making your breakfast oatmeal plain, but then spicing it up with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin spice, or any combination of flavor you desire. Need a sweeter bowl, try banana slices, apple slices, berries, or even apple sauce instead of traditional sugar.  Yogurt is also a great alternative to sugar and adds a creaminess to the bowl.

But don’t think that oatmeal is only for breakfast! There are a lot of recipes out there that feature such wonderful ingredients as feta cheese and black olives, avocado and cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions and kale, and even mushrooms and nuts. You can top a bowl high with spinach, tofu, beans… get creative and see what suits you best!

If you haven’t visited oatmeal in a while, give this dish a second look. You might just surprise yourself when you step away from the familiar pre-measured packets and do a little mixing for yourself! Even if you don’t choose to eat oatmeal every day, you make a healthy choice every time you make a bowl. So, as part of your good health in 2019, give this fine dish a try!

Looking for more ways to make healthy choices in 2019? Has your regular dentist recommended that you see a specialist for some restorative dental therapy? We are a friendly practice in the heart of Boston that is here to assist with your specialty dental needs. Give us a call today so we can get you on the road to excellent oral health.

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