Oatmeal is already well known as a healthy breakfast option, but with a few additions it can also be turned into a nutritional powerhouse.
How to turn your oatmeal into a superfood
Prepare one portion of (non-instant) oatmeal according to package directions. My own preference is to use half water, half soymilk. Just before the oatmeal is done, add 1/4 cup frozen blueberries or 1/3 cup frozen mixed berries. When the berries are warm, remove the oatmeal from the stove or the microwave and mix in:
- 1 level tbsp. ground flax seed or chia seed
- 1level tbsp. shelled hemp seed
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup to sweeten
Prepared in this manner, your oatmeal will be purple, hearty and very nutritious. Flax, chia and hemp will add a nutty crunch, and the blueberries, cinnamon and maple syrup will make it taste great. To make your oatmeal even healthier, use all organic products.
Flax and chia soak up liquid, so you may need to add extra water, milk or soymilk as needed. I grind the flax/chia seeds in a coffee grinder which I use only for that purpose. Because flax seed becomes rancid very quickly, I only grind as much as I need for one serving.
Flax seed is an excellent source of fiber, lignans, alpha-linoleic-acid and omega-3 fatty acids. It has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, fight inflammation, slow tumour growth in certain kinds of cancer, aid elimination, and stabilize blood sugar levels. It has a pleasant, mild, and nutty taste. I personally prefer its taste to chia.
Chia is even richer in omega-3 fatty acids than flax seed. It is also rich in anti-oxidants, which means that it can be stored much longer than flax without going rancid. It is high in fibre, protein and calcium, and was used already as a superfood by the Aztecs and the Mayans. As it absorbs water and turns into a gel in the stomach, it is easily digested and it also slows the process by which carbohydrate is broken down and turned into sugar, aiding in weight control.
Hemp seeds are surprisingly tasty. I recently tried them at a health food show and have been adding them to salads, smoothies and breakfast ever since. Among all plant foods, only soybeans outdo hemp as a source of vegetable protein. Hemp contains all the essential amino acids required for human nutrition and has similar health benefits to chia and flax, but trumps them in containing GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), essential for regulating the body’s fatty acid metabolism.
The anti-oxidant value of blueberries is among the highest in all fruits. In a Tufts University study, blueberries were shown to destroy free radicals more efficiently than 59 other fruits and vegetables. Blueberries provide greater heart protection than even red wine and also help prevent certain kinds of cancer. Eating blueberries is also beneficial for the brain and for the eyes.
Cinnamon’s health benefits include blood sugar control, as well as anti-microbial, anti-clotting, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains calcium and fiber, and helps lower blood cholesterol. In addition, research has shown that just smelling cinnamon boosts brain activity, a welcome plus in the morning! Be sure to purchase Ceylon cinnamon, not cassia, which contains higher concentrations of coumarin, a substance that should not be eaten in large quantities (here is how to tell them apart).
By adding these superfoods to your oatmeal, you significantly boost its protein, calcium, and anti-oxidant content. If anyone in your family objects to it being purple, tell them it’s food fit for champions — or monster food!
(And while we are on the subject of colourful, nutritious food, take a look at Colourful Winter Soups for Creative Cooks, chockful of healthy veggies!
Blueberries: The World’s Healthiest Foods Website
Flax: Flax Council
Chia: Dr. Andrew Weil
Hemp: Ontario Hemp Alliance
Cinnamon: The World’s Healthiest Foods Website