UPDATED FEBRUARY 2023: Recipe has been updated.
I like to treat myself to a delicious breakfast on Sunday mornings- even if it's not completely healthy. This weekend I wanted something warm and cozy, but didn't take a lot of time to make.
I considered getting the waffle maker out, but wasn't sure I wanted the heaviness of waffles smothered in yogurt, fruit, and syrup- nor did I want to clean the waffle maker. I also thought about egg migas, but the frying pan was in the dishwasher.
Having a pot and wooden spoon available, I decided to whip up a bowl of oatmeal in the style of an oatmeal raisin cookie. OMG! This was a good choice.
No added sugar, but lots of healthy fats. Despite wanting a treat, the oatmeal actually turned out to be quite healthy. Here's why:
Whole grain oats can help lower LDL blood cholesterol. According to Quaker Oats, the beta-glucan – a soluble fiber- tells your liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood. Then, it binds to some of the cholesterol in your gut, keeping it from ever reaching your bloodstream. The FDA approved their health claim that "3 grams of this beneficial fiber daily as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease. One bowl of oatmeal provides 2 of those 3 grams." (1)
The spices- cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne- are constantly being studied for their health benefits. So far, what we know is that ginger contains gomgerol and shogaol. They both aid in pain relief and decrease inflammation. (2)
Studies on cayenne suggest that its capsaicin component may help in the prevention and healing of gastric ulcers, be cardio protective, and prevent cholesterol gallstones. (3) Personally, I know cayenne warms me up immediately in the morning. I can actually feel the heat radiate through my body for about 20 minutes.
I added flaxseed and walnuts which are both rich in omega-3s (4,5), providing a total of 3g of omega-3s to this dish. These polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are beneficial to the brain and cardiovascular system.
The raisins contributed a half serving of fruit.
And the unsweetened coconut flakes added some flavor without added sugar.
All of this was cooked in almond milk enriched with calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D are contributors to not only bone health, but also immunity, muscle contractions, and the heart.
Finally, this is a protein-rich, plant-based, vegan meal. Each bowl of oatmeal contains 22g of protein!
But health aside, the oatmeal tasted like an oatmeal raisin cookie. It hit the spot this morning as a warm, satisfying indulgence whose fiber kept me full for hours.
Here's the recipe:
UPDATED FEBRUARY 2023: Old fashioned, rolled, and steel cut oats offer the most nutrition. Recipe has been updated.
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your milk of choice)
1/2 cup old fashioned, steel cut, or rolled oats
2 Tbsp flaxseed
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp unsweetened almond butter (leave out for nut-free version)
2 Tbsp walnuts (leave out if making as a "soft food" or nut-free)
2 Tbsp raisins (leave out if making as a "soft food")
Optional: garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes (leave out for nut-free version)
1. Heat almond milk in a pot over medium heat and stir in oats.
2. Add flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne and stir well with a rubber spatula.
3. Add almond butter and stir well.
4. Add walnuts and raisins and stir well.
6. Once all ingredients are combined well and oatmeal reaches your desired consistency (about 15 minutes), turn off heat and transfer to a bowl. Enjoy!
Nutrition per serving: 22g protein; 0g added sugar
(1) The Quaker Oats Company. (2020). Old fashioned and quick oats. Quakeroats.com https://www.quakeroats.com/products/hot-cereals/old-fashioned-oats
(2) University of Rochester Medical Center. (2020). Health encyclopedia: Ginger. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Ginger
(3) Srinivasan, K. (2016). Biological activities of red pepper (capsicum annuum) and its pungent principle capsaicin: A review. Critical Reviews of Food and Science Nutrition, 56(9):1488-500. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2013.772090.
(4) Zeratsky, K. (2019). Does ground flaxseed have more health benefits than whole flaxseed? MayoClinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/flaxseed/faq-20058354
(5) Guasch-Ferré, M., Li, J., Hu, F.B., Salas-Salvadó, J., Tobias, D.K. (2018). Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: An updated meta-analysis and systematic review of controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 108(1),174–187. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy091