Category Archives: breakfast


Top tips for clean eating

Three Top Tips For Clean Eating

What is clean eating?

There’s a lot of media exposure and talk about “clean eating” but what is it exactly? The widely accepted definition is that clean eating means avoiding highly processed foods, refined sugars, and eating a diet rich in whole foods in their most natural state. For fruits and vegetables that means buying organic for The Dirty Dozen. When it comes to animal products, it means buying free-range or pastured with no antibiotics, pesticides, or added hormones.

For some people a clean eating diet also means no gluten.  The challenge with going gluten-free (whether on a clean eating diet or not) is that you need to avoid the gluten-free crutch foods that are scattered all over the grocery store shelves. These highly processed gluten alternatives are not a healthy choice.

1. Start with breakfast

Many people often skip breakfast, possibly because they’re running late or they’re too busy to stop and have a meal. But breakfast is how you fuel your body for the day ahead. If you are going to have breakfast, don’t just choose simple carbohydrates or a fast food option. You want a real food breakfast that will provide healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates.

2. Simple Swaps

  • Hummus is a great alternative to mayonnaise. But instead of being mostly fat, it’s mostly protein. And it has a similar consistency to mayo making it perfect for wraps, dressings, and spreads. If you’re buying it in the store be sure to read the label in order to make sure you are getting the cleanest possible option. Or make it really clean by simply making your own at home.
  • If you’re looking for yogurt it’s easy to be distracted by the fruit-flavored varieties on the dairy case shelves. But the prepared fruit yogurts tend to come with excessively high levels of sugar and may also have other artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, none of which you want on a clean eating plan. Instead choose plain, whole milk yogurt, either regular or Greek-style and add your own sweeteners and flavoring. Options could include fruit, honey, chopped nuts, or delicious spices like cinnamon.
  • Our modern diet has led us to feel that we have to have rice or potatoes or pasta with a meal. We’ve been taught that you “need” a starch. If you feel you still want that to make your meal complete, choose more complex carbohydrates like riced cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or simply double up on your veggies. Cauliflower can also be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes without too much extra effort.
  • Salad and dressing seem to naturally go together. Unfortunately, if you take the time to read the label on the back of the bottle it’s not good news. Filled with loads of preservatives and artificial ingredients, these are definitely not part of the clean eating ideal. Instead make your own vinaigrette by combining 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice, salt, pepper, and the herbs or seasonings of your choice.

3. Don’t Do This

Just as important as all the things listed above that you want to do, there are few things that you need to keep in mind to not do:

  • An easy way to clean up your diet is to skip those foods that are most highly processed and offer the least nutrition. That includes white rice, pasta, cookies, crackers, and chips. Choose nutrient-dense foods that will actually support your health like raw nuts, veggies, and quality proteins.
  • Juices, juice drinks, and soft drinks are empty calories. Truthfully they’re nothing more than liquid candy bars. They provide little to no nutritional value and should be avoided. Eat those fruits instead of juicing them so you can enjoy the fiber which helps to slow down how quickly the sugars hit your bloodstream. If you’re thirsty choose water, herbal teas, or home-made green juices instead.
  • We’ve been misled to believe that artificial fats like margarine are good for us. We’ve also been guided towards vegetable fats like canola or corn oil. What you really want is healthy fats like butter, ghee, or beneficial oils like avocado, olive, and coconut. These are nourishing, satiating, and supportive.

As you start your clean eating journey it can be helpful to use a food journal so that you can see the progress that you’re making. It’s also important to remember that it’s not easy to make all of these changes at once. Baby steps are the key to success here. Start with one thing, like eating breakfast or making a healthy swap. Master that and then move on to the next thing. Before you know it you’ll be well versed in what those clean eating choices are and you’ll be focused on your health goals.

Clean eating is a good step towards a healthy life. In fact, it’s one of the #IngredientsForAHealthyLife. If you’re looking to do even more and clean up not just your diet but your lifestyle, be sure to check out the Lean Clean Green subscription box

fruit smoothie

Four Delicious Superfood Smoothies For Fall

Superfood Smoothies

While smoothies are certainly more popular during the warmer months of the year, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying them during the Fall season. A superfood smoothie can be a great way to add a nutrient-dense bump to your diet. To increase your nutrition you can simply change the ingredients in your smoothies. This allows you to take advantage of the season by eating those superfoods that are available at this time of year.

Important notes for smoothie making

  • By using bone broth instead of plain ice cubes you’ll be adding a small amount of a wonderful nutrient dense liquid that adds to the health benefits of the smoothies.
  • For added protein in each of the smoothies listed below add 1-2 scoops of collagen powder.  This odorless, flavorless powder is also highly beneficial for gut health but won’t change the delicious flavor of the smoothie.
  • When using almond or coconut milk be sure to read the label and avoid carrageenan. This ingredient, made from a red seaweed, can be highly irritating to the gut.
  • Each recipe below makes 2 servings, if desired you can cut the recipe in half to make just a single serving.
  • If you want to make two servings and save one for later it’s recommended that you freeze the second serving in order to prevent the ingredients from oxidizing. When you are ready to drink it, thaw a little more than halfway (overnight in the fridge should work) and re-blend. The frozen one may have a thicker consistency when blended depending on how much you let it thaw.
Wonderful Walnut Smoothie
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups almond or coconut milk
  2. 2 cups frozen organic wild blueberries
  3. 2 tbsp fresh-ground flax seeds
  4. 2 tbsp organic molasses
  5. 1-2 tsps cinnamon
  6. 4 bone broth cubes
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Cran-Orange Breakfast Boost
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oranges, washed, peeled and sectioned
  2. 2 cups frozen cranberries,
  3. 1 16-ounce bottle cranberry kombucha
  4. 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  5. 6 bone broth cubes
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Almost Pie Smoothie
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Ingredients
  1. 1/3 C gluten-free oats
  2. ½ C pumpkin puree
  3. 1 ½ C organic Greek yogurt
  4. 2 medium organic Fuji apples (about 2 cups)
  5. 1 banana, frozen and broken into pieces
  6. 1 C almond or coconut milk
  7. ¼ t pumpkin pie spice
  8. 6 bone broth cubes
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Carrot Cake Smoothie
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Ingredients
  1. 1 frozen banana, broken into chunks
  2. ¼ cup shredded carrots
  3. 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  4. 1- 1½ tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  5. generous pinch nutmeg
  6. 1 C organic yogurt
  7. ½ C almond or coconut milk
  8. ¼ t ginger
  9. 4 bone broth cubes
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

My friend Erin recently shared this delicious recipe for a great on-the-go-snack bar. With pumpkins in season, it’s easy enough to make your own puree. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, the canned stuff works just fine. A couple of words of caution, however, when choosing canned pumpkin:

  • It’s best to use a brand that has a BPA free lining
  • Organic pumpkin is preferred
  • I highly recommend that you read the label and make sure that you are getting only 100% pumpkin. You don’t need all those other ingredients.

These breakfast bars are fabulous for a quick breakfast, perfectly portable if you need to have breakfast on-the-go. And so tasty that they also make a great snack. If you’d like, add a serving of protein powder to make your bars even more nutritious. If you do add the protein powder you may find that you need just a Tablespoon or two of water so the mix isn’t too dry.

Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1/4 cup organic butter or ghee at room temperature
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
1/4 cup honey
2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook variety)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (you can also use walnuts or sunflower seeds)
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
pinch of Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup dried blueberries

Measure out the 2 cups of oats and pour just enough warm water over them to cover them
Soak for about 5 minutes while you’re mixing up the wet ingredients
In a mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs, butter or ghee, honey, and banana
You may want to mash the banana before adding to the bowl if it’s not really soft
Before adding the oats, drain them well

Add the oats, nuts, coconut, oat bran, cinnamon, salt, orange rind, currants, and blueberries, and stir until ingredients are well combined (this step is where you would also add the protein powder, if using)
Spread mixture into a lightly greased (butter, ghee or coconut oil) pan so the batter is no more than an inch or two deep. An 8” x 10” baking dish works well
Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown
For very crisp bars, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack
Cut the bars when cool
 
Fabulous Real Food Breakfast Ideas

Fabulous Real Food Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast, the best way to start your day

For many people breakfast is an afterthought. A cup of coffee and a bagel on the way out the door. Or possibly nothing at all. But it seems that conventional wisdom about breakfast being the most important meal of the day may be true. Studies show that eating breakfast, and what you eat, impacts your blood sugar and tends to have an effect on food choices throughout the rest of the day. After all, when we examine the word, it means breaking the fast.  For most of us, it has been at least 10 hours if not more since we last ate.  We deserve to support our bodies well by choosing a real food breakfast.

What not to eat for breakfast

The cereal aisle at the grocery store is huge and cereal manufacturers would like you to believe their overprocessed, often high sugar, offerings are a healthy choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the milk you eat the cereal with may provide a small amount of protein, it’s certainly not enough to get your metabolism going. What you are getting is an over-processed, sugary product.  While cereal is debatably better than not eating I’m here to tell you that it is not better by much.  Your body will still feel the effects metabolically and it will not be supportive of your blood sugar.

Grab-and-go fast food options are another no-no. I have never been a fan of that idea because the food is fatty, over-processed, chemically-laden and very few of these places offer a truly healthy start to your day.

Breakfast bars are another common, highly processed, item put forth as a potentially good idea. Unfortunately, these tend to be candy bars in disguise. So while the front-of-package labeling may try to convince you that this is the perfect portable option, when you read the label you’ll see that they are often high in sugar and don’t have very much protein.

Good rules to follow

  1. First and foremost it is important to start your day with breakfast.  Don’t skip.
  2. Eat protein, your body needs to refuel after the “fast” of sleeping.
  3. Get fiber, supportive to your digestive system it also helps sustain you as your blood sugar balances out with this first meal of the day.
  4. Limit sugar. Too much sugar (think cereals, syrups, muffins, etc) will cause a spike in insulin and then your body begins the blood sugar roller-coaster.
  5. Avoid simple carbohydrates (pancakes, toast, boxed cereal) your body will digest them too quickly and they are not supportive of blood sugar stability.

Break away from the box

Because of the excellent marketing job by cereal manufacturers, we often think of breakfast as coming in a box. Or there’s an association with certain foods for breakfast like bagels, pancakes or waffles. But you don’t have to have what is considered “breakfast” food for breakfast if you don’t want to.  It’s interesting how many people are fans of breakfast for dinner. But what about having dinner for breakfast instead? Of course, if that’s something you’re not ready for yet, below are some easy to make, tasty, and nutritious breakfast recipes to start your day.

  • A Mediterranean style breakfast would include olives and avocados which provide healthy fat, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs for protein, cucumber and tomato salad with olive oil and fresh herbs. While this meal would typically come with bread or pita and either butter or labneh (a thickened yogurt cheese), you can simply skip that or serve the cheese by itself. 
  • Sauteed greens, like kale, collards, or cabbage, with mushrooms, red onion and pine nuts sauteed in coconut oil is a fabulous veggie-rich start to the day. Add protein, either lentils, a chicken breast, or some eggs and some sauerkraut for a delicious start to the day. 
  • Many people who don’t like to eat breakfast find that smoothies can be a good way to start their day. Either by having a smoothie bowl 0r one of these superfood smoothies.
  • If you’re looking for a really easy way to start your day there’s always this crockpot breakfast casserole. Let your crockpot do all the work while you’re sleeping. You wake up to a healthy breakfast. 

Starting with a real food breakfast is one of the first steps towards a healthy life. In fact, it’s one of the #IngredientsForAHealthyLife. If you’re looking to do even more and clean up not just your diet but your lifestyle, be sure to check out the Lean Clean Green subscription box

sources:

Bauer, LB, et al. A pilot study examining the effects of consuming a high-protein vs normal-protein breakfast on free-living glycemic control in overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping‘ adolescents. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Sep;39(9):1421-4.

Kobayashi, F, et al. Effect of breakfast skipping on diurnal variation of energy metabolism and blood glucose. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2014 May-Jun;8(3):e201-98.

 

 

 

Granola

Revisiting Granola

Granola or Muesli?

I was talking with my mother the other day when the conversation turned to granola.  Mostly because I was making some.  I have a basic recipe that I use, changing it up as needed or as whimsy strikes.

I was low on molasses and didn’t have quite enough.  Spying the pomegranate molasses I have from Turkish cooking classes I asked if she had ever used it and did she think it would be a good substitute.  She hadn’t used it so I tasted it and realized that it was probably more tart than I would like in my granola. So extra honey it was.

“I never make granola,” she said, “I make muesli.”  I suddenly realized that I’m not sure what I make.  It’s not really granola because it doesn’t have the hard, crunchy bits that so many people like in granola (mine is less crunchy mostly because I use less sweet stuff).  However, muesli (pronounced moos-lee), isn’t baked at all.  Rather it’s mixed together – flaked grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.  Some people add sugars to it but I prefer to leave those out.  When you want some you put it into a bowl, cover it with milk or yogurt and let it sit in the fridge overnight to soak.  You can eat it without soaking but if you do soak it you get a great consistency and high digestibility. When I make muesli I usually top my soaked bowl of goodness with some shredded apple, a pinch of cinnamon and a dusting of fresh nutmeg.

Although I can soak my granola it certainly doesn’t form the same consistency as muesli because of the sweeteners and the oil.

Over time I have modified the original recipe and I no longer bake in the fruit.  If I want fruit I’ll add it at the time I serve it which makes things easier for everyone.  I have, however, started adding in a lot of seeds to help boost the nutrition.  Often my base recipe now includes sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds; all raw and unsalted of course.  This batch, however, is sesame seeds only since when I went to make it I discovered that the pumpkin and sunflower seeds had been raided for hamster treats. (And, quite frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about that.  But that’s probably a story for another time.)

 I was trying to decide what to call this cereal I make. It’s probably somewhere in between granola and muesli.  Muesola sounds silly.  On the other hand gruesli sounds completely unappetizing.  I think I’ll  stick with calling it granola and leave well enough alone.

The Basic Recipe

Here’s the base recipe for both with instructions below:

4 C. flaked grains – oats, quinoa, your preference
1 C. raw, unsalted nuts, chopped – my favorites are pecans or almonds
1/4 C. flax seed, ground
1/4 C. sesame seeds
1/4 C. raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 C. raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Mix ingredients together well
Store in an airtight container

If making muesli:

Place 1/3 C. of the mixture into a bowl
Add 2-4 T. of dried fruit
Mix in 2/3 C. milk, yogurt, or apple juice
Cover and place in the fridge overnight
In the morning top with 1/4 apple, grated and spices
Yum!

If making granola:

Preheat oven to 350F

Put dry mixture into a large 9 x 13 casserole dish

In a saucepan mix together
1/3 C. honey – I prefer raw and local
1/3 C. molasses
1/3 C. coconut oil

Heat in a small pot until just starting to bubble
Pour mixture over the base recipe, coating evenly
Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to avoid burning

Pull mixture out of the oven and sprinkle with 2 t. vanilla extract, incorporating well

Let mixture cool completely before storing in an airtight container

To serve:

Place 1/3 C. of the mixture into a bowl
Add 2-4 T. dried or fresh fruit
Mix in milk to the desired level
Enjoy!

Breakfast casserole

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Overnight breakfast success

I love using my crockpot for all different kind of recipes.  And really, there’s no reason not to. Crockpots are simple to use easy to clean up, and an energy-efficient way to cook. But as great as they are for dinners and snacks, breakfast is where a crock pot really rocks.
 
There’s nothing better than coming downstairs to a nice hot breakfast, ready and waiting. But you didn’t have to cook it. Because you made it in the crockpot. After all, if you’re willing to leave it on all day to make dinner, why not leave it on overnight to make breakfast? Especially when you’re cooking for a crowd. After all if you’ve got a house full of guests that’s the time you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking anyway. So let your crockpot do all the work and you’ll look like a kitchen star.
 
This casserole is a family favorite. While it takes a little bit of prep time it’s delicious and totally worth it. 
 
Sweet potato crockpot breakfast casserole
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Ingredients
  1. Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
  2. 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and shredded
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  7. 1 pound cooked meat - organic and preservative free
  8. 1 cup shredded cheese - we prefer white cheddar
  9. 1 dozen organic eggs
  10. 1 cup whole organic milk
  11. 1 teaspoon herbs of choice - suggestions include oregano, basil, chives, thyme, but you can use whatever you prefer
  12. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  13. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Grease inside of crock
  2. In a pan saute potatoes in 2 tablespoons coconut oil until starting to brown, remove and set aside
  3. In remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil saute onion, peppers and garlic until warmed through and starting to soften
  4. Layer in the crock 1/3 potatoes, 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 meat, 1/3 cheese, repeat layers, top layer will be cheese
  5. Mix together eggs, milk, herbs, salt and pepper
  6. Gently pour egg mixture over layers in crock
  7. Cook on low 8-10 hours (or overnight) until eggs are set
Notes
  1. Delicious served with a little salsa on top
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
For more great crockpot recipes:

Breakfast Shake

Back at home after my travels I’m re-adjusting to the local time zone and wondering why the laundry fairy never shows up when I’m not home.

Breakfast while traveling

I enjoyed a number of fabulous meals while I was one the road with family in Northern France.  I indulged and ate outside my usual patterns.  I am a big believer in taking the time to enjoy the culture and opportunities that travel offers you and I certainly wasn’t going to pass up some of the delicious experiences.  Who knows when I will find myself back in Northern France again.

One of the big changes was breakfast in a Chambre d’Hotel.  A Chambre d-Hotel is often a room available in someone’s house (although a few of them had a separate building) that you can rent.  There are little signs on the street indicating if someone has a room to rent in their house.  You drive up and inquire if there is space for the night (or if you plan ahead, you can call and make a reservation).  We did not plan ahead which meant that some days we looked at several places before finding one.

The prices seem to vary widely depending on the size of the room, if there is a suite arrangement, the location of the town, etc.  Each place offers breakfast with the chambre.  What is for breakfast varies.  Every place offers fresh baguette and cheese plus jam.  Most of the time the jams were homemade and absolutely fabulous.  Each place also offered juice, coffee, and tea.

Some of the different items in addition to the above which we had for breakfast (it depended on where we were and what they wanted to serve):  different breads or baked goods, sliced ham, cold cereal, yogurt served with stick packets of sugar or fresh fruit.

Overall the breads were fresh and delicious and the yogurt that I ate there was fabulous.  I don’t normally drink milk however it was so good that a couple of mornings I had a bowl of warm milk with my breakfast.

Breakfast smoothie

Now I’m back in my regular surroundings and getting back to my normal routine.  Part of that includes eating more in the pattern which works best for me.  I usually don’t eat gluten as I find my system works better if I avoid it.  But I did indulge while I was on vacation. I also tend to eat a high protein breakfast, again because that’s what works best for my body.  Truthfully I believe it’s what works best for most people, we need that protein boost in the morning to stabilize our blood sugar after our overnight sleep-fast. After 12 days away from my typical breakfast plan, I’m really enjoying my morning smoothie again.  It’s such a great way to start the day, filling and delicious.

Morning Smoothie
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup plain organic whole fat yogurt
  2. 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  3. 1 cup fresh spinach (pack this in well)
  4. 1/2 cup of berries
  5. 1 tablespoon unsweetened raw almond butter
  6. 1 tablespoon fresh ground flaxseed
  7. 1 scoop protein powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender and whir together until well incorporated
Notes
  1. Whenever I share this recipe I always get at least one person who says "Spinach in your shake?  Seriously?"  Yes, seriously.  It is delicious and gives a great boost to the shake.  Truly, aside from the color, you won't know it's in there as the other flavors hide the flavor of the spinach.  If you haven't tried it before I think you should, you'll be pleasantly surprised.  It's a great way to get some veggies into your system first thing in the morning.
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

Reinventing Comfort

When I was a little girl my mother used to make something called rice cereal.  My brother and I loved it.  Leftover white rice in a bowl of hot milk with a huge dollop of butter and a spoonful of sugar on top.  It brings back memories of the small kitchen we had when we were young.  Sitting at the table with my brother, legs swinging, enjoying this dish which we viewed as a treat.

When my children were growing up I would make the same dish for them.  And they loved it just as much.  Even now my 16 year old will assemble a bowl if we have the ingredients at hand (which we often do).  It was a great way to use up extra rice — filling, tasty, and warming to the tummy.  I even served it on occasion to overnight guests.   One such guest, a dear friend from my high-school days, exclaimed about this wonderful breakfast, wanting to know where the recipe came from.  My answer?  My mom.  And probably from her mom.  I think it was simply a frugal way to use leftovers.  But it sure was, and still is, tasty.

Sometimes you have a day where you want comfort food.  This morning was one of those days.  As I was assembling, and then happily eating, my bowl of comfort I realized that I have changed the recipe.  Modified it to be more in line with my healthier eating habits.  But it was still just as comforting, warming and satisfying as it ever was.  Reflecting on this I realized that the concept of comfort food is a state of mind.  Yes it’s a comfort to the tummy and makes us feel good; but part of what makes us feel good is the memories associated with that food.  Changing the food doesn’t change the comfort level as long as the basic concepts are the same.

So I’m making an offer, what are your comfort foods?  What do you eat when you feel the need for that emotional lift?  Share the recipe and the concept below.  If you’d like (and please ask below) I’m happy to make suggestions to help boost the nutrition or health factor while still helping you get that bowl or plate of comfort you are after.  Eating well to be well doesn’t mean we can’t still have comfort.

Reinventing Comfort

When I was a little girl my mother used to make something called rice cereal.  My brother and I loved it.  Leftover white rice in a bowl of hot milk with a huge dollop of butter and a spoonful of sugar on top.  When I had children I would make the same dish for them.  It was a great way to use up extra rice — filling, tasty, and warming to the tummy.  I would even serve it to guests sometimes.   One time a friend exclaimed about this wonderful dish, wanting to know where the recipe came from.  My answer?  My mom.  And probably from her mom.  I think it was simply a frugal way to use leftovers.  But it sure was tasty.

Sometimes you have a day where you want comfort food.  This morning was one of those days.  As I was assembling, and then happily eating, my bowl of comfort I realized that I have changed the recipe.  Modified it to be more in line with my healthier eating habits.  But it was still just as comforting, warming and satisfying as it ever was.  Reflecting on this I realized that the concept of comfort food is a state of mind.  Yes it’s a comfort to the tummy and makes us feel good; but part of what makes us feel good is the memories associated with that food.  Changing the food doesn’t change the comfort level as long as the basic concepts are the same.

So I’m making an offer, what are your comfort foods?  What do you eat when you feel the need for that emotional lift?  Share the recipe and the concept below.  If you’d like (and please ask below) I’m happy to make suggestions to help boost the nutrition or health factor while still helping you get that bowl or plate of comfort you are after.  Eating well to be well doesn’t mean we can’t still have comfort.

What Kind Of Oats?

Oats | kateshortforbob | Wikimedia Commons

Bob wrote in and asked “I have heard that not all oatmeal has the same nutritional value, and I’m confused. There are so many types of oatmeal, steel-cut, instant, etc, etc. What is the most nutritious type?

This comes up a lot. We’re told that oats are really good for us, they are, and that we should eat more of them for reducing cholesterol, to help reduce cardiovascular disease and to stabilize blood sugar. Oats are a wonderful food. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is easily digested and helps the body by slowing down how quickly it can process simple starches and sugars. Soluble fiber also breaks down within the digestive tract, binding with cholesterol and thereby escorting it out of the body. Insoluble fiber cannot be digested and helps to create bulkier stools which move through the system more quickly. They also help mitigate certain bile acids.

More than just fiber, oats also provide manganese, selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, and magnesium. They even provide a modest amount of protein (6 g per cup).

Quick or instant oatmeal is not as good a choice since it is broken down; your body can get through it too quickly. It’s also it’s more highly processed and the more processed a food is is the less nutritious it typically is. Oat groats and steel cut oats are generally considered to be the best. The groats are the whole grain, containing all of the fiber, bran and the beneficial germ. Old fashioned or rolled oats are also very good although they don’t have all of the bran since some of that is removed during the rolling, or flaking, process.  I keep all three, oat groats, steel cut oats, and thick rolled oats, in my pantry all the time.  They’re very versatile and are great for a wide range of recipes.

One cup of oats per day is considered to be very beneficial, especially if you have high cholesterol or are looking for foods to help stabilize blood sugar. Making it with milk will add more protein and some calcium. Adding fresh ground flax seeds, about one tablespoon, will further increase the fiber content and add a healthy omega 3 boost. Adding fresh berries, my favorite is blueberries is great, a dash of cinnamon on top and you’ve got a really great meal to get you going in the morning.