Mom wins — oatmeal’s good for you

A DIET STAPLE — Oatmeal has been a staple in the American home for years. Before that there were the steaming bowls of cooked porridge that the Scottish people served for breakfast and had a pot on the back of the hearth bubbling all day long. Oatmeal cookies have been popular for school lunches as well.
-- Esther McCoy

A DIET STAPLE — Oatmeal has been a staple in the American home for years. Before that there were the steaming bowls of cooked porridge that the Scottish people served for breakfast and had a pot on the back of the hearth bubbling all day long. Oatmeal cookies have been popular for school lunches as well. -- Esther McCoy

Remember the days of our youth when our moms would put a bowl of oatmeal down and say “Eat it–it’s good for you?” Well, it turns out that she was right.

There is loads of nutritional value for good health, and oats are available in different varieties: Old fashioned, oat groats, steel cut oats and oat bran. There are the quick cooking varieties and instant oatmeal that aren’t as satisfying in keeping hunger pangs away but will do in a hurry.

The high-fiber content is an excellent option to consider in terms of satiation and delayed gastric emptying. Because it takes more time to digest, individuals feel full longer, and it can correlated to a lower body mass index in time.

Oats are great in baking and adding to ground beef to make meat loaf or meat balls.

Here are some recipes that require oats — the regular or old-fashioned kind. The instant type is not as adaptable.

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This is a recipe for breakfast oatmeal that is a 29 percent reduction from a packaged serving in calories and contains dried fruit, apple, sunflower seeds, Equal sweetener and cinnamon. It is from a “Home Sweet Home Equal Sweetener Cookbook.”

Best Breakfast Oatmeal

3 cups skim milk

1 1/2 cups regular oats

1/3 cup dried fruit bits, such as dried cranberries or raisins

1 medium apple, unpeeled, cored and cubed

3 tablespoons raw, unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon maple extract

8 to 12 packets Equal sweetener or 1/3 to 1/2 cup Equal Spoonful

2-3 dashes salt

Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Combine milk, oats, fruit bits, apple, sunflower seeds and maple extract in medium saucepan; heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Equal and salt. Spoon into four cereal bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon. A 1-cup serving is 280 calories.

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Here is an Oatmeal and Graham Cracker Cookie recipe from the Taste of Home magazine. If you like the kind of bar cookies that are filled with raspberry jam, this is for you.

Oatmeal and Graham Cracker Jam Squares

1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

10-ounce jar seedless raspberry or any kind of your choice

4 whole graham cracker boards, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the first five ingredients. In a small bowl, mix melted butter and vanilla. Add to oat mixture, stirring until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup oatmeal mixture for the topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Spread jam over the layer to within 1/2 inch of edges. Add crushed graham crackers to reserved topping and sprinkle over jam. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Makes 16 at 220 calories per square.

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Some granola products can run up the calories, but if you make this one, you will know what ingredients it contains. It is from the Cooking Light magazine and has 162 calories per one-third cup.

Nutty Whole Grain Granola

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup uncooked millet

2/3 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup walnut halves

1/4 cup roasted, salted whole almonds

1/4 cup hazelnuts

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup

1 large egg white

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first eight ingredients, tossing to combine. Combine butter, syrup and egg white, stirring well. Drizzle over oat mixture; toss well to coat. Spread mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring twice.

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This snack bar has marshmallows, peanut butter, Cheerios, rolled oats, crunched pretzels and almonds. It makes 16 squares and is 162 calories per bar. This is from Cooking Light magazine.

Peanut-Almond Snack Squares

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

3 cups miniature marshmallows

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

2 1/4 cups toasted oat cereal, such as Cheerios

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup crushed hard pretzel twists

1/3 cup roasted, salted almonds

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cooking spray

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and peanut butter; cook 3 minutes or until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove mixture from heat; stir in cereal and next four ingredients, through salt. Working quickly, spread mixture in an 8-inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Using a wet spoon, spread mixture into an even 1-inch layer; let stand 1 hour or until set. Cut into 16 squares.

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This is a recipe for two loaves of bread with oatmeal in the dough and rolled up with a filling of raisins, cinnamon and sugar. It is from the “80 Years of Good Baking from West Virginia,” although I have the cookbook for nearly 20 years, so it might be 100 years of Good Baking by now.

Oatmeal-Cinnamon Swirl Bread

2 cups boiling water

1 cup oats

2 envelopes dry yeast

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup warm water

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup honey

1 cup raisins

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

6 cups flour, more if needed

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

Pour boiling water over oats in large bowl; let stand for 30 to 40 minutes or until water is absorbed. Dissolve yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Add 2 tablespoons butter, honey and raisins to oats. Stir in yeast mixture. Add salt and 2 cups flour; mix well. Add 2 cups flour; mix well. Knead on floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes, kneading in remaining 2 cups flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat surface. Let rise, covered for 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down and divide into two portions.

Roll each portion into a 7-by-15-inch rectangle. Brush with water; sprinkle with cinnamon and 3/4 cup sugar. Roll up dough from narrow side to enclose filing; press edges to seal. Place seam side down in greased 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Let rise for 45 to 60 minutes or until nearly doubled in bulk. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until bread tests done. Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Remove to wire rack to cool. This is 200 calories per 1/12 of a loaf of bread.

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This recipe is called flapjacks in England, according to Jane Helm, who provided it for Woman’s Day magazine. She and her husband go on long cycling rides together out in the countryside, and she takes them along for snacks.

Chewy Oat Bars

1 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup honey

1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 cups quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, roughly chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon flour

Pinch kosher salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two long sides. Place the butter, honey and sugar in a large pot and cook over medium-low heat until melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, cranberries, flour and salt. Add the oat mixture to the butter mixture and fold until just combined. Gently press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until light golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Using the overhangs, transfer the bar to a cutting board and cut into 24 pieces.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaroline.com.)

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