January’s Food-of-the-Month: OATS!

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 in Food and Fitness | 69 comments

In my quest to delve into the glory of God this year, I am reminded that according to Scripture, we are no less than God’s sacred temple!  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  We may have a long way to go in the myriad of spiritual and physical ways we honor God with our body, but we can be encouraged in our desire to treat it with the utmost respect and care.  For me, and I know for many of you, part of that equation is a lifestyle of consistent exercise and healthy eating.

In that light, every month this year I’d like to introduce a “Food-of-the-Month” to help nourish our body–and probably our heart, mind, and soul, too.  You may have heard of “Super Foods” or “Power Foods” which nutrition experts encourage us to eat because of their extremely healthful benefits.  I, too, think it wise to focus on foods we should eat and how to creatively weave them into our diet instead of obsessing about those we should not.  We will explore why, how, and even when we should eat my Foods-of-the-Month, and I will always provide some of my favorite ways of preparing them.  (FYI, all 12 foods are staples in my diet… most I eat every single day!)  If there is biblical meaning or I’m inspired with spiritual application, you can be sure I’ll share the tasty tidbits.  More than anything, I am excited to research, learn, and be nourished with you!

With January being the first month of the year, I am compelled to introduce one of my favorite, first foods I eat every morning… OATS!  Notice I didn’t say “presweetened, instant oatmeal”–I said “oats”… the old-fashioned variety.  If truth be told, I typically start getting excited for my oats before I go to bed the night before.  Many mornings at the gym I can’t wait to get home to eat my oats!  (But please do not cut your workout short for such a reason!)  Eating oats is simply a wonderful way to start the day… let’s look at why.

Oats are a nutritional powerhouse–they have an almost unbelievable number of benefits.  This low-calorie, nutrient-rich star of all whole grains contains a soluble fiber called “beta glucan” which lowers high cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.  Beta glucan also seems to benefit those who suffer from type II diabetes.  “The soluble fibers slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach and delays the absorption of glucose following a meal.  As stabilizing blood sugar is the goal of anyone with diabetes, this is an extremely beneficial effect” (“SuperFoods Rx” by Steven Pratt, M.D.).  For those desiring weight loss, this quality of helping us stay full longer is especially good news.

Oats are also an excellent source of the complex carbohydrates our bodies need for energy.  Because of their low glycemic index, oats are more likely burned as fuel for our body as opposed to being stored as fat.  They provide twice as much protein as brown rice as well as contain phytonutrients (remember this word!) which provide cancer-fighting and heart-protecting antioxidants (“Oxygen Magazine,” October 2011, and “SuperFoods Rx,” Pratt).  In addition to all the health benefits, oats are inexpensive and easily woven into our daily diet.

My beloved, daily breakfast “cereal” is comprised of old-fashioned oats, wheat germ, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, Fiber One and Grape Nuts cereals.  Old-fashioned oats (or steel-cut) are better than “quick-cooking” or instant oats because they have not been subjected to processing which strips them of vital nutrients and fiber.  Wheat germ and flaxseed are extremely nutrient dense, providing crucial omega-3 fatty acids and “lignans” which “influence the balance of estrogens in the body and help protect against breast cancer” (“SuperFoods Rx,” Pratt).  Cinnamon is a “mighty spice” with health benefits still being discovered but including positive effects on blood glucose and cholesterol levels (“SuperFoods Health Style,” Pratt).  I like the additional fiber and taste of Fiber One, and I like the “wheat and barley” of Grape Nuts (see Deuteronomy 8:8).  Starting my day with this nourishing mixture (and a protein shake) makes me feel I am heading towards the Promised Land!

There are countless recipes with oats to try but two I will share:  The South Beach Diet‘s Meat Loaf and Oxygen Magazine’s Baked Ginger Pumpkin Oatmeal.  If you have some favorites, please share!  For now, be nourished by the amazing oat, and enjoy!


The South Beach Diet Meat Loaf (Arthur Agatson, M.D.)
1 can (6 ounces) no-salt-added tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine (sometimes I substitute beef broth)
1/2 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 ounces ground turkey breast (I use extra lean or lean)
1 cup oats
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute (I use egg whites)
1/2 cup shredded zucchini


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the first seven ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Set aside.  Combine the last four ingredients and 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Shape into loaf and place into an ungreased 8” x 4” loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Discard any drippings.  Pour 1/2 cup of the remaining tomato mixture over the top of the loaf.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Place on a serving platter.  Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve the remaining tomato sauce on the side.  Serves 8.


Baked Ginger Pumpkin Oatmeal (Oxygen Magazine)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons nonfat cottage cheese
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Dash sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 piece crystallized ginger, crushed


Combine all wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Place dry ingredients, except ginger, into a small bowl.  Mix.  Mix dry ingredients with wet.  Stir in crystallized ginger.  Bake in an oven-proof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve.

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