Oatmeal - Whole Grain Goodness

Raspberry Oatmeal
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For more information, contact the author – Nancy Frecks (
nfrecks1@unl.edu), Extension Educator in the SW 3 Counties Dundy-Hayes-Hitchcock

January is oatmeal month and oatmeal is a whole grain that can be a delicious, warm way to add whole grains to your eating patterns during the cold winter months. Oats are full of important nutrients like vitamins B and E, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. They contain beta-glucan, a special kind of fiber, found to be especially effective in lowering cholesterol and insoluble dietary fiber, which has anticancer properties and keeps our bowel clean. Best of all, oats, like most other whole grains, can help us maintain a healthy weight once we’ve reached it.

There are several types of oatmeal such as rolled oats, quick cooking oats, instant oats, oat flour, and steel-cut oats. All these types have similar nutritional values, but many times instant oatmeal has other ingredients added. The only way to know if there are ‘extra’ ingredients is to read the ingredient label of the product.

Ideas to boost nutrition and flavor include:

  • Make oatmeal with calcium-rich milk instead of water.
  • Toss in raisins or dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.
  • Add fresh or frozen berries or other fruits like apples or bananas.
  • Mix in ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon for sweetness, it adds flavor without calories. With a dusting of cinnamon, a smaller amount sweetener, or perhaps none at all, may be needed.

If eating oatmeal isn’t something you even want to consider try using rolled oats in baked products like cookies, muffins, breads or other desserts. Or they can be used in place of bread crumbs in meat loaf or patties. Couple a goal of eating more servings of whole grains with a regular exercise program for a healthier 2016.

Physical Activity Tips:

Surround your children with active fun!

  • Set aside a play area indoors. Find a space where children can tumble and toss things – without breaking something or getting hurt.
  • Find a place outdoors to run, jump and kick a ball.
  • Turn active play into family time, maybe after a meal.

Sources:

  1. 5 Grains to Keep Your Family Healthy, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  2. Whole Grains 101, Whole Grains Council
  3. Child's Play, Team Nutrition Nibbles Newsletter

This article has been peer-reviewed.