Oatmeal Month

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January is oatmeal month. Here are some fun ideas you can use to motivate individuals to eat more oatmeal.

• SuperBowl Party - Use this theme in a newsletter, class or cooking demo. “It is time to get ready for the SuperBowl! Kick off your health with a SuperBowl of oatmeal.”

Oatmeal is a valuable player when it comes to cereals and whole grains. Here are its statistics:

-Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, providing 5-7 g of soluble fiber per 100 grams or about 1 cup dry, which is more than for whole wheat, corn or rice. Soluble fiber helps lower LDL cholesterol, which can help lower your risk for heart disease.

-The total amount of fiber for 100 grams of oats is around 10-15 grams or just about a half day’s supply. This fiber is beneficial for controlling blood sugar and appetite. Foods that are higher in fiber help you feel fuller longer.

-Oats are rich in unsaturated fats, including the essential fatty acid linoleic acid.

-Oatmeal is a lean player. Ounce for ounce, cooked oatmeal contains far fewer calories than most processed cereals, especially sweetened breakfast cereals.

Cereal: Calories per ounce

Cooked oatmeal 28

Wheaties 103

Froot Loops 106

• Recipe contest - Encourage individuals to submit their favorite recipe using oatmeal. Award prizes for the following categories:

-best dessert

-best breakfast

-most fiber

-most creative

Prizes can include fruit to top your oatmeal, a box of oatmeal or cooking utensils for making oatmeal.

• New Orleans Style SuperBowl - the 2002 Superbowl will be played in New Orleans. Here is a fun Pecan Praline Oatmeal breakfast for your participants to try. You can even use this recipe for a cooking demo:

New Orleans SuperBowl

This oatmeal tastes like the New Orlean's famous pecan pralines!

2 cups rolled oats (regular)

4 cups water

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups skim milk

4 Tbsp reduced calorie pancake syrup

Fat-free whipped cream

1 Tbsp roasted pecan pieces

Place rolled oats and water in microwaveable container. Cover and microwave on full power until thick and bubbly, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour oatmeal into 4 individual serving dishes and top each with 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 Tbsp reduced-calorie pancake syrup, a dollop of fat-free whipped cream and a pinch of roasted pecan pieces.

Serve hot.

Serves 4. Each 1-1/2 cup serving: 229 calories, 4.5 g fat, <1 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 102 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein.

• Oatmeal potluck - Invite participants to bring in their favorite oatmeal dish. Ask them to send you their recipe ahead of time so you can make sure it really is healthy and you can share all recipes with the class.

• Did you know? When you mention oats, most people think of instant oats or rolled oats. There are many varieties of oat products. Make a display of different varieties. Here are some popular ones you will find in most grocery stores or whole food markets:

-Groats are whole oat kernels with the hull removed. These need to be cooked a long time but can be used in pilafs or in soups, just as you would use barley.

-Steel cut oats are also known as Scotch oats or Irish oats. They are groats which are steamed, roasted and cut into thirds. They are not rolled. These oats take longer to cook and are chewier in texture.

-Old fashioned oats are groats which are steamed, roasted, steamed again and rolled flat. They cook more quickly than steel-cut oats. These oats have a richer flavor and creamier texture than the quicker cooking varieties. A single-cup portion cooks in about 3-4 minutes in the microwave.

-Quick cooking oats are the same as old fashioned oats except they are cut into thirds before they are steamed and rolled the second time. They cook faster than old-fashioned oats (1 minute) because the particles are smaller. Quick oats make a nice topping for baked goods, fresh fruit and yogurt.

-Instant oats are the same as quick cooking oats except they are rolled thinner. This enables them to cook instantly when boiling water is added. Instant oats are a good idea for people who have access to hot water during the day. They can make a quick “cup-o-snack.” One tip, however is to read the label for sodium content as it is usually higher with the flavored instant oat products in the supermarket.

*Note: old-fashioned, quick-cooking and instant oats are identical in nutrient content. Use instant when you want speed or less chewiness, and old-fashioned where you want a richer flavor and texture.

-Oat bran is the outer layer of the groat. It is a very rich source of soluble fiber. Replace 25% of the flour in quick breads, pancakes and muffins for a boost in soluble fiber.

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