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Oats, Peas, Beans, And Barley Grow…



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Oats, Peas, Beans, And Barley Grow…

By Nancy K. Crevier

Hot cereal has always been high on my list, especially when autumn begins to hint loudly that winter is just around the corner. In particular, it is oatmeal that calls my name, whispering that it will warm me up from the inside out and get me out the door ready to take on the day.

As a child, I liked to wrap my hands around the warm bowl while the brown sugar sprinkled over the top gradually melted into the mass of hot cereal. The fragrant scent of roasted grains and sweetener was a soothing way to begin a cold morning. For me, it was a form of aromatherapy, although that term was not then in popular use.

The old-fashioned rolled oats are my favorite. They have just enough texture to stand up to cooking, yet the flattened grains provide a cereal that is creamy, as well. Instant oatmeal, while handy, tends to turn into a sticky wad that is frequently oversweetened and overseasoned with artificial flavorings.

Stovetop cooking can be reserved for weekends when the several minutes of stirring and simmering is not an issue. On a busy weekday morning, less than five minutes in the microwave results in the kind of oatmeal I find appealing and fits into my schedule.

Over the years, oats have risen to the top of the healthy foods list. Not only are oats an excellent source of selenium, which protects from free radicals in the body and may contain cancer-protecting properties, and manganese, a nutrient essential to biosynthesis of collagen and to the synthesis of cholesterol, but are a superior source of fiber, vitamins B1 and A, and many other trace minerals — information that interests me far more now than it would have when I was 12 years old and swirling the cereal around in my bowl.

Not only that, the fiber found in oats is a special kind called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan fiber, it turns out, contributes positively to lowering cholesterol levels. An average bowl of oatmeal contains about 3 grams of this super fiber, enough to be beneficial when consumed regularly. Antioxidants found in oats also have been found to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease.

Oats and its derivative, oat bran, which was a component of absolutely everything edible in the 80s when the health benefits of the grain was in the forefront of media exposition, have been popular additions to recipes since long before they arrived in North America with the 17th Century Scottish settlers. Breads, cookies, bars, soups, casseroles, and cakes benefit in flavor and nutritional value from the addition of the toasty grain.

Mittens and hats are nice for chilly days, but a tummy full of oatmeal goes a long way to fending off that chill, too.

My Favorite Oatmeal

2/3  cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup water

pinch salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup raisins, or other dried fruit

¼ cup walnuts

1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup

small amount of milk, if desired

Place the oats, water, salt, cinnamon, and raisins into a Pyrex bowl. Place in the microwave and cook on high for one minute. Stir, add a little more water if it seems dry, and return to microwave for another 45 seconds to one minute. If you prefer a very creamy oatmeal, add a few more tablespoons of  water now, and microwave for another 45 seconds to one minute.

Stir in walnuts, maple syrup, and milk. Eat steaming hot.

Oat Crust

1½ cups oats

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¼ tsp salt

1/3  cup canola oil


Stir oats, flour and salt together in bowl. Stir in oil to coat the oats. Add some water, a couple or tablespoons at a time, until the oats and flour hold together, but are not wet or sticky.

Press the dough into a 10-inch pie pan, starting from the center and working up to the edges. Make sure the dough is not too thick where the bottom edge of the pan meets the sides. Crimp the edges between thumb and forefinger.

This crust is a perfect quick and healthy alternative for a quiche filling. For a sweet pie filling, add 1 Tbsp honey and ½ tsp cinnamon to recipe.

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