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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Oats

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

With cooler weather here to stay what better way to start your day than with a steaming bowl of oats. Oats were cultivated for two thousand years and used for medicinal purposes long before being consumed as a food. Oats were widespread in Europe and were a dietary staple for the people of Scotland, Great Britain, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Today, people everywhere enjoy oats in its variety of forms, such as oat groats, oat bran, and steel-cut oats. The largest commercial producers of oats include the United States, Germany, Poland and Finland.

Chock full of nutrients, like magnesium, selenium, antioxidants and fiber, oats are a delicious and nutritious way to start your day. Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a special type of fiber called beta-glucan which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Studies show that in people with high cholesterol, consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) usually lowers total cholesterol by up to 20%. Lowering cholesterol greatly reduces the risks of heart disease and stroke. A high fiber diet, like one made up of oatmeal, is also cardio-protective and is especially beneficial to post-menopausal women according to latest research. One daily bowl of oatmeal will not only boost your energy but also your immune system, help stabilize blood sugar, lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and protect against breast cancer.

When shopping for oats buy in small quantities at a time since this grain has a higher fat content than other grains and will spoil quicker. If you buy in bulk, smell the grains to make sure they are fresh and avoid those that have any signs of moisture. Store oats in a sealed container in a cool, dry, dark place. They should keep for about two months. Try sprinkling oat bran on top of your cereal, replacing your regular flour with oat flour when baking cookies or bread, and enjoying a bowl of hot oatmeal daily for vibrant health.

Outrageous Oats!

1 cup steel cut oats

3 ½ cups distilled water

½ cup organic skim milk, soy milk, or almond milk

½ chopped/sliced apple

Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg

Handful of raisins, walnuts and/or almonds

Boil water in a large pot. Add the steel cut oats. Stir. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes. Stir the oats occasionally so they don’t stick to the pan. When the oats begin to thicken, around 30 minutes, pour in the milk, sliced apple, and raisins. Mix the oats and milk and cook for ten additional minutes. Top with cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts. Enjoy!

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski is a freelance wellness writer who specializes in the science of happiness and how it affects our health. She is also a certified health coach who works with clients on nourishing their bodies and souls by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. Suzann holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com, or email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com for a discounted phone consultation.

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