Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Breakfast: steel cut oats, fruit and nuts

What did I have for breakfast when I was losing weight? The answer is steel cut oats with added fresh and dried fruits, plus two kinds of nuts, a tbsp of Qia mix plus two tbsp of 1% milk. I hate to admit it, but I also added a tbsp of maple syrup. Let's be honest. Adding the syrup is simply adding sugar.

And now that I have lost the weight, this is still my breakfast of choice. I like the flavour, the texture and its quick to make. 14 minutes and, when I'm done and I leave the kitchen, the kitchen is tidy. My wife likes that.

The complete ingredient list is as follows:
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill quick cooking steel cut oats
1 tbsp on Qi'a mix (chia, hemp and buckwheat)
1 peeled and mashed banana
1 peeled, cored and coarsely chopped Ambrosia apple
1 Tbsp of maple syrup 
5 grams of chopped dried cherries
10 grams of chopped dried Goldenberries (cape gooseberries)
2 chopped Brazil nuts (about 8 grams)
6 chopped cashews (about 8 grams)

  • Put 3/4 cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl and heat at high for two minutes.
  • While the water is heating, measure out 1/4 cup of steel cut oats and set aside, mix the Qi'a and milk in a small bowl, and measure out both the dried fruit and the two kinds of nuts.
  • With the water heated to boiling, mix the 1/4 cup steel cut oats with the hot water. Set the microwave to about 40% power and return the bowl to the microwave to gently cook for ten minutes.
  • While the oats are cooking, chop the nuts and dried fruit. I like the nuts and dried fruit coarsely chopped. It's quicker and I prefer the texture.
  • Peel and mash the banana.
  • Peel, core and chop the Ambrosia apple.
  • When the oats are done, remove from the microwave and cook the apple for a minute or more on high. Remember, cooking times will vary depending on the power of your microwave.
  • While the apple is cooking, combine the chopped dried fruit and nuts plus the Qi'a mix with the moist, cooked oats. Scrape the mashed banana into the bowl, too.
  • At this point the apple will be cooked but still a little crunchy. Add the apple to the bowl with the other ingredients.
  • Finish by mixing a tbsp of maple syrup into the mix.
  • I find heating the completed breakfast in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds on high is often necessary. If it still is not warm enough, give it a stir and a further 20 to 30 seconds.

If you are an efficient cook, you will have found time during the microwave cycles to return any remaining ingredients to the fridge or cupboard and you will have washed all plates, measuring cups and utensils. I don't waste time towel drying the stuff but leave all in a dish rack to air dry.

About the ingredients:

  • The steel cut oats have lots of fibre and are low in saturated fats. There is no trans fat and no added sodium or sugar.
  • The dried fruit is in the mix for the sweetness, for the natural sugar. I like boosting the sweetness of the mix with the addition of a healthy berry, the cape gooseberry. I prefer the dried berries to refined, white sugar. The berries add flavour and not just naked sweetness. Plus, the cape gooseberry adds fibre: another benefit. Click on the link and you can read why some folk call this berry a superfood. I don't make that claim.
  • The nuts taste great and are a prized addition to any Mediterranean diet. The Brazil nuts gain bragging rights when it comes to selenium. Just two Brazil nuts deliver enough selenium to meet one's daily requirements for this trace metal.
  • The banana adds smooth bulk and body along with sweetness and lots of nutrition. Think potassium for a start but bananas contain lots more. Bananas are popular for good reason.
  • The Ambrosia apple adds flavour, crunch, a bit of sweetness and looks good in the mix. Apple and banana are great additions to any breakfast. When available, and selling for a reasonable price, I like to substitute chopped fresh strawberries for the apple.
  • The maple syrup should not be here but I'm a sinner. The maple syrup may add more flavour than refined white sugar but let's be honest: This is adding sugar, a small amount, but sugar nevertheless.

I make no sweeping claims about this breakfast. For overblown claims, click the links. I feel that some of the claims are ones that Ponce de Leon would have appreciated.  When I read such claims, I find myself questioning their veracity. If something seems just too good to be true . . .

I will say this: my heart doctors would approve of this breakfast, especially if I removed the maple syrup. This breakfast delivers adequate calories to power one through to lunch and it is pleasantly filling. It may keep the need to snack at bay. I say "may" because if it is your habit to snack between meals you have a habit to break.

I believe an important ingredient in any successful weight loss or weight maintenance program is will power. -- and maybe an orange. If you must snack, a bit of fruit is much better than a couple of cookies or a candy bar.

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