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    Archive for the ‘oats’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipe: “No Flour? No Problem!” Pancakes

    oats-280wThis recipe was created out of true laziness one morning when I craved pancakes and quickly realized I had no flour of any kind in my kitchen.

    Oh, yes, I could have walked all of three minutes to the store around the block to buy some, but… then you wouldn’t be reading this.  It was all part of the plan!

    Some quick FYIs before we get to the deets:

    1. While sturdy, these pancakes have a more delicate texture than conventional ones.

    2. Some of the ingredients (i.e.: xanthan gum, unsweetened shredded coconut) are only available at health food stores (or Whole Foods).  They are not expensive, though, and all you need is one short trip to buy them all.

    3. The inclusion of whey or hemp protein (as optional ingredients) is for individuals looking for a more substantial meal, as is the inclusion of extra nuts and seeds.  I like to have these pancakes for brunch, so I like making them in a way that keeps me satisfied for several hours.

    4. A large majority of the saturated fats in this recipe come from coconut products, which are significantly less damaging than other saturated fats.  You are welcome to use other plant oils if you would like, though coconut oil is my favorite for this recipe.

    5. For optimal flavors, these pancakes should be generously topped with blueberries, strawberries, and banana slices.

    Yields: 2 large pancakes

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 Tablespoons ground flax
    5 Tablespoons water OR milk of choice (ie: dairy, almond, soy, etc.)
    1 cup quick-cooking oats
    1.5 teaspoons double-acting baking powder (if aluminum-free, even better)
    1 teaspoon xanthan gum (can buy this at any health food store)
    1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 scoops protein powder of choice (optional; if including, I highly recommend unsweetened, but flavored, whey or hemp)
    1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice OR 1/4 cup seeds (i.e.: chia, hemp) (optional)
    2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    2 teaspoons coconut oil

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    In a small bowl combine the ground flax and liquid.  Allow to rest for five minutes.

    In large bowl, combine oats, baking powder, xanthan gum, vanilla, cinnamon, protein powder, nuts/seeds, and shredded coconut.

    Add applesauce and coconut oil to ground flax mixture.  Stir briefly.

    Add contents of small bowl to large bowl.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ones.

    On stovetop, heat griddle at medium heat until surface is hot.

    Add 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil or vegan butter or conventional butter.  Use paper towel or spatula to spread evenly on surface.

    Pour batter onto griddle and form two pancakes.

    Cook pancakes until top surface begins to bubble.  Flip, cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

    Serve.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per pancake, made with whey protein, chopped pecans, and using water for flax mixture):

    512 calories
    7.5 grams saturated fat
    360 milligrams sodium
    8 grams fiber
    24 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Alpha-Linolenic omega-3 fatty acids, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, thiamin

    Good Source of: Folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Oat Flour

    5106PF2KV9L._SL500_AA280_PIbundle-5,TopRight,0,0_AA280_SH20_I have a question [in regards to your recent post] about oat flour.

    I can tolerate wheat just fine, but if I were to replace whole wheat flour with oat flour in my baking, would I end up with a more nutritious product?

    — Nicole Clanham
    (City withheld), CO

    Let’s first do a simple comparison.

    One cup of whole wheat flour contains:

    • 407 calories
    • 15 grams fiber
    • 16 grams protein
    • 121% Daily Value of selenium
    • 228% Daily Value of manganese
    • 14% Daily Value of potassium
    • 41% of manganese

    A cup of oat flour, meanwhile, provides:

    • 444 calories
    • 12 grams fiber
    • 15 grams protein
    • 57% Daily Value of selenium
    • 258% Daily Value of manganese
    • 12% Daily Value of potassium
    • 81% Daily Value of manganese

    Alas, no mind-blowing differences.

    There are, however, some added bonuses to oat flour (especially if you make your own by grinding rolled oats in a food processor).

    1. More soluble fiber than any other grain.  Remember, soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and triggers fullness more quickly.  Insoluble fiber — which whole wheat flour contains lots of — helps keep things moving through our digestive system.
    2. Exclusive antioxidants and polyphenols believed to promote heart health and lower diabetes risk.

    As great as that is, you can not fully replace the whole wheat flour in a recipe with oat flour.

    Since oat flour does not contain gluten, a baked good made entirely with it will not rise.

    “Wait a minute,” you may be saying.  “I thought you said oats were not safe for people on gluten-free diets!  What do you mean it doesn’t have gluten?”

    Allow me to explain.  Oats are intrinsically gluten-free.  However, many are cross-contamined in factories that also process wheat.  While the minimal contamination is significant enough to cause problems for an individual with celiac, it is not enough to have an effect on the baking process.

    Feel free to substitute half the wheat flour in a recipe with oat flour, though.

    As I always like to say, keep nutritional context in mind.  Oat flour in an otherwise unhealthy recipe (loads of sugar and calories) is a moot point.

    The best way to get oat’s health benefits is by preparing unsweetened oatmeal (and adding your own fruit and nut toppings) or adding quick-cooking oats to yogurt or a smoothie.

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    You “Ask”, I Answer: Modified Corn Starch/Constipation

    My dietitian at the gym said that modified corn starch is not good because it is a strong “binding” agent and can cause constipation.

    Cheerios [have] modified corn starch as [the second] ingredient.

    [The dietitian said this] has an impact on toddlers- many of [whom] eat a lot of cheerios cereal.

    And, a lot have constipation problems.

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Although there are several factors that can cause constipation, a significant one is a lack of insoluble fiber in the diet.

    Cheerios — and any oat-based product, for that matter — largely contain soluble fiber.

    Remember, soluble fiber is the one that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol AND achieve a longer-lasting feeling of satiety. Insoluble fiber, meanwhile, helps keep things moving through the digestive tract.

    The lack of insoluble fiber (NOT the presence of modified corn starch) is why Cheerios can exacerbate (notice I am not using the word “cause”) constipation.

    I want to stress that foods do not cause constipation in and of themselves. Rather, it is a lack of insoluble fiber in the overall diet that does.

    That said, I prefer people get soluble fiber in their whole food form, as opposed to isolated starches (especially since the tacked-on modified corn starch is likely genetically modified). Plenty of foods offer generous amounts of soluble fiber: oats, barley, brussels sprouts, oranges, broccoli, and black beans come to mind.

     

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    Five Must-Have Foods

    The latest video on the Small Bites YouTube Channel singles out five must-have foods.

    Having these in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer will make healthy eating simple, quick, and convenient.

    This is not an end-all-be-all “five healthiest foods on the planet” or “five superfoods that reverse aging” list, but rather just one of many practical ways in which nutrition can have a place in your kitchen.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Oats

    I’ve been trying to add more soluble fibre to my diet but I can’t STAND oatmeal.

    Am I losing out on any of the properties of the oats by toasting them and having them as part of a home made granola, as opposed to as oatmeal?

    — “J” (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    First of all, I commend you for taking a smart and practical approach to healthy eating.

    J has incorporated a very important nutriton lesson — if a healthy food’s traditional way of preparation and consumption doesn’t quite match up with your palate, think outside the box!

    To answer your question, J, you are not missing out on the health benefits of oats by toasting them. This process does not leech out any nutrients.

    If anything, doing so enhances them by bringing out their delicious nutty flavor and providing a very appealing crunch.

    And, since all you do is spread the oats in a single layer on a baking pan and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes (at approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit), you are not adding extra calories in the form of oil or butter.

    If you feel more comfortable using your stovetop, by the way, you can also toast the oats in a skillet over a medium flame until they turn a slight brown color and you smell a nutty aroma.

    Keep in mind that granola is very calorically dense, so be sure to keep an eye on your portion sizes.

    See how you like adding toasted oats to soups, yogurt, and salads.

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    You Oat To Know

    One of my co-workers recently asked me what the difference was — from a nutritional standpoint — between steel-cut oats, quick-cooking oats, and instant oatmeal.

    Answer: there really isn’t any!

    They are all a nutritious whole grain that offers soluble fiber (the kind that has been linked to a reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels).

    (Quick review: insoluble fiber — found entirely in whole wheat products and partially in fruits, vegetables, and legumes — speeds up the transit of foods in the digestive system.)

    The difference between these varieties of oats and instant oatmeal ultimately comes down to processing techniques.

    Whereas steel-cut oats are — ready for a shocker? — cut by rotating steel blades into tiny groats, quick-cooking oats and instant oatmeal go some extra processing that produces a flat flake.

    If you look at their respective nutrition labels,  steel-cut oats appear to contain more fiber than their quick cooking counterparts. However, this is simply due to different serving sizes. It’s akin to a one-ounce slice of whole wheat bread containing 3 grams of fiber and a 1.5 ounce slice providing 4.5 grams. The larger slice may appear to be a “better source” of fiber, but ounce by ounce the two are equal.

    While steel cut oats have a lower glycemic index than flattened oat flakes, I don’t consider the difference significant.  Additionally, it is more important to consider glycemic loads (how what you add to your oatmeal affects its glycemic index).

    You can’t go wrong by buying plain (unsweetened, no salt added) oatmeal and jazzing it up with nuts, seeds, spices, and some fruit.  Additionally, cooking it in milk (dairy or otherwise) adds protein and additional nutrients.

    The problems begin when you buy flavored varieties than add sodium and up to 4 or 5 teaspoons of sugar.  So, keep it simple, real, and whole!

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    Forty percent of adults in the United States consume a grand total of ZERO whole grain servings every day.

    Not the most encouraging of statistics.

    Although whole grains are increasingly more available, I suspect this has to do with a lack of education and knowledge.

    Many people, for instance, think multigrain bread is a whole grain. It’s not.

    Additionally, the overwhelming majority of new whole grain products come in the shape of sugary cookies or cereals “made with whole grains,” which can mean that as little as 5% of the total wheat flour used is whole.

    Not the best approach.

    If your whole grain consumption isn’t up to par, here are some ideas.

    — Whether at home or at a restaurant, opt for brown rice. Kitchen-phobes have no excuse. Many companies now offer brown rice that cooks in 10 minutes in the microwave. Nutritionally, it is equal to regular, longer-cooking varieties.

    — Enjoy whole wheat pasta, like DeCecco whole wheat fusilli (pictured at right). If you are brand new to it, make your dishes with half regular pasta and half whole wheat.

    — Eat whole grain bread (at least 3 grams of fiber per slice and ‘whole wheat flour’ as the first ingredient).

    — Experiment with alternative grains like quinoa and whole wheat couscous (they cook the exact same way as rice. All you need is a pot and water).

    — Add barley to your soups.

    — Start your morning with plain oatmeal (sweeten it up with fruits; add fiber and protein with walnuts or almonds)

    — Make sure your morning cereal is whole grain (again, look for whole wheat or oat flour as the main ingredient).

    — Snack on popcorn (air pop it or make it at home in a pot with a little bit of olive oil).

    — Make waffles and pancakes with whole grain mixes. If you buy frozen varieties, make sure they are whole grain.

    Remember, whole grains offer more health benefits than non-whole grains with extra added fiber.

    If you need more assistance, check out the Whole Grains Council’s amazing and extensive list of whole grain products. It’s the perfect supermarket assistant!

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    Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: Nana’s Cookies

    Who doesn’t love cookies? Particularly soft, chewy ones saturated with chocolate chips?

    I’m willing to bet you do.

    I also have a feeling, though, that you watch your cookie consumption, since you know they are empty calories.

    Delicious, sure, but nutritionally void.

    What if I told you I had a tasty, chocolate chip vegan cookie made with whole wheat flour and oats?

    Let me tell you more about it.

    It has no refined sugars, white flour, dairy, eggs, cholesterol, hydrogenated oils, or trans fats.

    Its first and second ingredients are whole wheat flour and rolled oats, respectively.

    Interested?

    If you took the bait — read carefully.

    Nana’s Vegan Cookies are available nationwide, and described by their creator as “extremely healthy”.

    I have tried them myself and can vouch for their flavor. They are absolutely delicious. Chewy, moist, flavorful, and better than most conventional cookies.

    When I truly want to indulge in a sweet treat, I pick one up.

    “Indulge? How bad can they be? They don’t have any of the ‘bad stuff’,” you may think.

    Well, a 3.5 ounce cookie (the only available size) delivers:

    • 410 calories
    • 320 milligrams of sodium
    • 22 grams (5 1/2 teaspoons) of sugar (in the form of fruit juices)
    • 3 grams of fiber

    From a caloric, that’s equal to 7 regular Oreo cookies!  In fact, that same amount of Oreo cookies only delivers 0.8 fewer grams of fiber than this cookie.

    I find that people tend to automatically equate vegan, dairy free, fruit-juice sweetened, and whole grain with “healthy”, when that isn’t always the case.

    Remember that fruit juice is, essentially, sugar water, and our body metabolizes it very similarly to sucrose (table sugar).

    My rule of thumb? Cookies are not supposed to be health foods.

    Sure, a cookie without trans fats and composed of whole grains is a slight improvement, but it is still a cookie.

    Therefore, treat it as such. Enjoy it, savor it, but always consider its calories discretionary.

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    Quick and Healthy Recipe: Oat Bran Pancakes

    I received this recipe in my e-mail today from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

    It sounds delicious — and has a nice nutritional profile to boot — so I figured I would post it here for all of you to make at home and enjoy!

    INGREDIENTS

    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup oat bran
    1 Tbsp. sugar

    1/4 tsp. baking soda

    1/8 tsp. salt
    3/4 cup plus
    2 Tbsp. nonfat buttermilk

    1 egg

    1 Tbsp. canola oil

    1 cup fresh blueberries

    1 medium banana, thinly sliced
    Powdered sugar, as garnish
    Fresh mint sprigs, as garnish

    STEPS

    In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, sugar, baking soda and salt.

    In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and oil until well combined. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork until they are just combined. The batter should have the thickness of yogurt.

    Spray a griddle or large, nonstick skillet very lightly with cooking spray and place it over medium heat.

    When it is hot, ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan, spreading it to make a 5 inch pancake.

    Cook until small holes appear and the bottom of the pancake is brown, about 2 minutes.

    Carefully flip and cook until the pancake is brown on the second side.

    Place the finished pancakes on a baking sheet (without overlapping) and set in a warm oven while the rest of the pancakes are cooked.

    To serve, top with the fruit and a dusting of powdered sugar. Garnish with a mint sprig, if desired.

    Makes 3 servings (2 pancakes each).

    Per serving: 300 calories, 8 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 56 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 260 mg sodium

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    Whole Grains Even An Amateur Will Love

    Current statistics show that consumers in the United States eat 40 percent of their whole grains at the breakfast table.

    A large majority of this figure can be attributed to popular cereals like regular Cheerios, Total, and Fiber One.

    Although they offer their share of fiber (and millions of people like to start their day off with them), these cereals are often characterized as too bland by fiber-free eaters persuaded to switch to healthier breakfast foods.

    Consequently, these people often revert to sugary, “made with whole grain” varieties that are basically sugar flakes with a pinch of whole wheat flour thrown in to justify a “Whole Grains!” boast on the front of the box.

    I always think it’s good to let you know of smaller companies who are putting out delicious and nutritious products, so while we are in the cereal realm, I thought I would let you know about Barbara’s Bakery.

    Their Shredded Line of cereals is composed of tasty — and ultra crunchy, even after several minutes in milk — whole grain cereals.

    A 1 1/4 cup of Shredded Oats, for example, contains five grams of fiber, 230 milligrams of potassium, six grams of protein, and 2.5 grams of fat.

    Thank the nutrition deities for a realistic serving size! Too many cereal brands try to pass off half a cup as a serving.

    Tomorrow morning, measure out half a cup of cereal. Then laugh, as you realize that the average person eats at least an entire cup or breakfast.

    Since the first two ingredients are whole grains — whole oat flour and whole wheat flour — one serving of Shredded Oats covers a whooping ninety percent of the daily recommended intake of whole grains.

    I’m actually not big on packaged cereals, but, for the past several months, boxes of Shredded Oats have taken permanent residence in my cupboards.

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