August 13, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Breakfast Basics was one of the classes in our recent Feed Your Family Right series.  We covered what it takes to build a healthy breakfast and try out a few recipes for delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare ways to start the day.  Here’s a sneak peek at what we discussed about oatmeal, including some ideas for fast and easy prep!

Oatmeal is a great way to start your day.  Filling and warm, it can really keep you going through your morning.  Studies have shown that beta-glucan, the soluble fiber in oats, can help to lower LDL cholesterol and to slow down digestion time, helping with glucose control.  The insoluble fiber in the oats fills you up and reduces hunger cravings for hours after eating. Oatmeal is inexpensive and gluten free (those with celiac – make sure that your package says so), and can be the perfect blank canvas for your favorite fruits and flavorings.

Do you love homemade oatmeal but lack the time in the morning to make it fresh every day? Don’t reach for a packet of the sugary stuff, try our two hints for advance preparation and enjoy a warming bowl in as little as two minutes.

  • If you have a favorite oatmeal recipe or brand already, make a large batch and freeze in individual containers.  Take one out of the freezer and place into the fridge before you go to bed, and then zap it in the microwave in the morning for about 90 seconds at high power.  Stir to make sure that the oatmeal is fully heated and then top as desired.
  • Don’t want to even wash a pot?  Try overnight soaked oatmeal instead.  Place equal amounts by volume of old-fashioned oats and your liquid of choice (water, milk, or a milk replacer such as almond or coconut milk) into a container with a lid, stir to combine, cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, scoop out your serving into a bowl, heat for 60 to 90 seconds, and serve with your choice of toppings.

Ingredients for today’s batch of overnight oatmeal – equal volumes of old fashioned rolled oats and almond milk.
Want some ideas for topping your oatmeal?  Think fruit, nuts, and seeds and try to stay away from a lot of sugary sweet toppings.  Chopped fresh fruit or a spoonful of sugar free or low sugar fruit preserves add sweetness, as would a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  Go easy when using dried fruits as their sugars are pretty concentrated.  Toasted chopped nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and nutty flax seeds or hemp hearts all make great additions and up the ante with heart healthy unsaturated fats, omega 3’s and protein.  Try swirling in a bit of plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt for a creamier alternative, or even your favorite nut butter.  Turn your soaked oats into muesli by adding some apple juice to the soaking liquid and then stirring in plain yogurt and chopped apples before serving.


August 10, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Maybe I am a bit of a science geek, but I think that it is important to understand some of the research behind nutritional choices before we decide to eliminate products from our diets or those of our families.  Are you considering or have you decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from your family’s diet?  If so, on what did you base that decision?  The video below from the Washington Post was created by the American Chemical Society to explain the difference between HFCS and regular table sugar. (VIDEO IS IN ORIGINAL BLOG)

So now what do you think?  When I learned about the chemistry of sugar and HFCS back in biochemistry class it made me take a minute to think about the choice I had made to eliminate HFCS from my kitchen and to choose products made with regular sugar on both nutritional and ethical grounds.  Yes, glucose and fructose are used differently in our bodies, but either way we are taking in added sweeteners that will have an effect on us.  Sugar is sugar, right?  Yes, but… don’t forget the values question.  The production of HFCS links back to our dependence on subsidized corn and monocultures.  Plus, I try to stay away from buying foods that are “engineered” for production, so HFCS loses ground in my estimation compared to sugar in its more natural forms.  Eliminating almost all packaged, processed foods from my pantry has minimized my family’s at-home HFCS consumption.

As with many other food items, I believe in moderation vs. elimination in otherwise healthy people with no significant, nutritionally-based or managed health issues or allergies. To me, the key point of this video is not HFCS vs. sugar but more the final message about the amount of either sweetener that we choose to eat.  I don’t believe that a little HFCS now and then will kill me.  I do believe that choosing to eat large amounts of any sweetened food is a problem.  So, while I tend to lean towards foods sweetened with natural sugars, honey, agave, and maple or other natural syrups instead of HFCS, I feel that it is most important to moderate my intake of all sweetened foods regardless of the type of sweetener used. That means that desserts and sweet baked goods are “sometimes” treats, not every day requirements; that sweetened beverages are an occasional indulgence and not an everyday occurrence; and that the grain products I provide for my family are minimally, if at all, sweetened.

We are constantly bombarded with information about what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  Before you make a choice to add or subtract something from your diet, take the time to do a little research and make sure that you are making the best decision for you. Look for studies by impartial researchers and make sure that claims are not being biased by special interest groups who have an economic stake in how you spend your food dollars. Whether its HFCS or other food