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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 22, 2006

TASTE
Oats overflowing with benefits

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 •  Turkey bacon and cream cheese lighten breakfast panini
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 •  Shake it and stir it Brazilian style with a class on Carnival cocktails

By Sharon Thompson
Knight Ridder News Service

Fruit and nut granola is delicious at breakfast. The recipe is inside.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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HEALTHY ATTRIBUTES

  • Soluble fiber in oats promotes heart health when eaten as part of a daily diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and insoluble fiber benefits the digestive system.

  • People who eat breakfast regularly are more likely to weigh less than those who skip it. Research shows that people with higher-fiber diets tend to weigh less.

  • As part of a plant-rich, low-fat diet, whole grains might help protect against heart disease and some cancers. Whole-grain oats in a diet can help people maintain healthy weight.

  • Eating 3 grams of soluble fiber from oats each day, as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, has been shown to lower blood cholesterol.

  • Oats contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and unique antioxidants in addition to a greater proportion of protein than other common cereals.

    Source: www.quakeroatmeal.com

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    OATMEAL FIVE WAYS

    Prepare oatmeal with milk or soymilk instead of water to add protein, minerals and vitamins. Regular oats are well worth the 5 minutes of cooking time.

  • Pumpkin spice: Stir in a dollop of canned pumpkin puree, plus a sprinkle of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar.

  • Strawberry swirl: Add sliced fresh berries or thawed frozen strawberries with their juice to cooked oatmeal. Then swirl in a little strawberry jam for sweetness.

  • Fruit and nut: Add chopped dried apricots, dried plums and raisins to oatmeal as it is cooking, so the fruit plumps up a little. Then add some toasted, chopped walnuts and almonds and a touch of honey.

  • Banana walnut: Top cooked oatmeal with sliced bananas, chopped toasted walnuts and a bit of honey.

  • Oatmeal cookie: Add all the flavors that make oatmeal cookies so good: a drop of vanilla extract, some raisins, cinnamon and a little brown sugar.

    Source: "Small Changes, Big Results" by Ellie Krieger

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    Chocolate-chunk oatmeal cookies with dried cherries are delicious as well as good for your heart and arteries.

    BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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    OAT FORMS

    Groats: All oats start out as whole oat seeds on the stalk. Once they are cleaned and the thick hull has been removed, they become oat groats. They can undergo further processing.

    Rolled: Steamed, rolled groats become whole rolled oats, also known as the familiar old-fashioned oats.

    Steel-cut: When neither steamed nor rolled but cut into pieces, groats become steel-cut, or Irish, oats. Cut groats require a long cooking time.

    Quick: Steel-cut oats can be steamed and rolled thinly to create quick oats. They often are used interchangeably with rolled oats in baked goods.

    Instant: Made from cut groats that are cooked and dried, instant oats are not suitable for baking.

    Source: Cook's Illustrated

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    TIPS

  • Steel-cut oats are chewier and have a fuller flavor than regular rolled oats. Toasting the oats enhances the subtle nutty flavor of the grain.

  • Coating fish with rolled oatmeal before frying is an ancient Scottish custom.

  • Using oatmeal as a binder gives a coarser texture to meat loaf. Bread crumbs produce a finer one.

  • Quick-cooking and old-fashioned oats are interchangeable unless recipes call for a specific type. Instant oatmeal is not the same as quick-cooking and should not be used for baking.

    Sources: "The Good Cook" by Anne Willan and "Betty Crocker Cookbook"

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    The "fad" diet of the year doesn't have a snazzy name. It's simple: Get active and eat better.

    Adding more nutrient-dense foods to our diet is strongly recommended by nutritionists, and one of the super foods we should be eating more of is oatmeal.

    For years, Dr. James Anderson, a researcher at the University of Kentucky, has studied the ability of oats to lower serum cholesterol, and other studies continue to tout its health benefits.

    "Oats are overflowing with health benefits," registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Patti Geil said. "In addition to lowering blood lipids, particularly the LDL ("bad") cholesterol, oats slow the rise of blood glucose after eating, which is important for diabetes control.

    "There is also evidence that because oats improve satiety they keep you feeling full they are helpful in a weight-loss plan. Fiber sources, including oats, can significantly aid in reducing blood pressure and/or prevent the onset of hypertension."

    Geil said the secret ingredient in oats is beta-glucan, a soluble fiber, and that experts recommend 3 grams of beta-glucan daily for maximum health benefits. This is the amount in 1 1/2 cups of cooked oats or 1/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal that can be used in other recipes, such as meat loaf or soups.

    The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize fruits, vegetables and whole grains as part of a healthy diet. Oatmeal is the only whole-grain food recognized by the FDA to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Anderson's research says 1/3 cup of dry oat bran contains 4 grams of fiber, and 1/3 cup of dry oatmeal has 2.7 grams.

    There are many ways to add oats to your diet, other than eating a bowl of oatmeal. Quick or old-fashioned oats can be substituted for as much as one-third of the flour called for in recipes for muffins, biscuits, pancakes, loaf-type quick breads, coffee cakes, yeast breads, cookies and bars.

    Jackie Scott and Diane Scott Kellum of Lexington, Ky., developed a diet plan called Eucalorics, and this recipe for fruit-and-nut granola is a snack Kellum makes for her clients. Portion control is one of the key elements in their book, "Calorie Queens: Living Thin in a Fat World."

    DIANE'S FRUIT AND NUT GRANOLA

    Granola:

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 1 cup dried cherries

    Syrup:

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place oats in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Toast the oats for 12 minutes. Add pecans and almonds, and toast 4 minutes more. Add the coconut, and toast for 4 minutes more.

    In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla and salt. Add toasted oatmeal mixture, stirring to evenly coat the granola.

    Spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray, then top with granola. Evenly spread the granola out on the pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

    Remove the granola from the pan, and stir in the fruit. Cool completely before serving.

    Makes 20 1/2-cup servings.

    OVERNIGHT OATMEAL

    In too much of a hurry to make oatmeal for breakfast? Here's how to cook it overnight in the slow cooker.

    Before bedtime, put a cup of steel-cut oats into the slow cooker with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon cinnamon or apple pie spice, plus 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit. Cover the cooker, and put it on low to cook overnight. In the morning, give the oatmeal a quick stir, and add milk and maple syrup.

    Source: "How to Break an Egg"

    CINNAMON OAT CRUNCH TOPPING

  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup oat bran hot cereal, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons stick margarine, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar, packed

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix until moistened. Spread on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until dry. Watch closely during the last 2 minutes and remove from the oven, if needed, to prevent overbrowning. Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

  • Per serving (1/2 cup): 102 calories, 3 g fat, no cholesterol, 14 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein

    Source: "Cooking Up Fun for Kids with Diabetes" by Patti Geil and Tami Ross

    QUICK DESSERT

    Mix 1/2 cup oats with 1/4 cup whole-grain flour and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup brown-sugar substitute. Mix well. Cut in about 4 1/2 tablespoons low-calorie margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slice 5 Granny Smith apples into thin slices. Toss the apples with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Place the apples in a casserole dish, and top with the oat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until apples are tender and topping is crisp.

    Source: American Diabetes Association

    CHOCOLATE-CHUNK OATMEAL COOKIES WITH DRIED CHERRIES

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups rolled oats, old-fashioned
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks about the size of chocolate chips (about 3/4 cup)
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, preferably dark
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (12-by-18-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

    Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, cherries and chocolate.

    In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla, and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat mixture; mix until just incorporated. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and that ingredients are evenly distributed.

    Divide dough evenly into 16 portions, each about 1/4 cup, then roll between palms into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls on each baking sheet, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball to 1-inch thickness. Bake both baking sheets 12 minutes, then rotate them front to back and top to bottom and continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone and appear raw, wet and shiny in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

    Makes 16 4-inch cookies.

    Note: Cook's Illustrated editors recommend these cookies be made with dried sour cherries, but dried cranberries can be substituted for the cherries.

    Quick oats used in place of the old-fashioned oats will yield a cookie with slightly less chewiness. If your baking sheets are smaller than the ones described in the recipe, bake the cookies in three batches instead of two. These cookies keep for 4 to 5 days stored in an airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag, but they will lose their crisp exterior and become uniformly chewy after a day or so.

    Source: Cook's Illustrated