Have you ever had what I call a Ratatouille moment? You may have had one without realizing it, so let me explain what it is.
In the film about a rat who dreams of becoming a chef, a food critic sits down at a restaurant table and tastes a dish of ratatouille, a combination of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a blend of seasonings and spices. As soon as his fork hits his lips, he’s immediately transported back to childhood. In his mind, he’s sitting at his mother’s table, filling himself with this comforting dish laced with bursting flavors and, of course, love.
For me, oatmeal brings a Ratatouille moment. When I was a young child, my dad worked a very early shift. He used to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning and welcome me to the table with a steamy bowl of oatmeal. I never knew or cared about what time it was, I only knew that it was dark outside and that I was going to be surrounded by a dish of warmth. To this day, when I’m stressed or I’m just in the mood for a hug from my plate, I know I can count on the comfort of this guilt-free food that somehow feels indulgent.
7 Reasons Why Oatmeal Is a Breakfast With Benefits
If you’re not eating oatmeal every day, here’s why you oat to.
1. Oats Can Lower Cholesterol, Stabilize Blood Sugar, and Help You ‘Go’
Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a viscous gel that helps to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood glucose levels. The insoluble fiber in oats helps provide a “moving” experience by curtailing constipation and improving intestinal health.
2. Oats May Protect Your Heart and Your Colon
A variety of antioxidants known as avenanthramides are found exclusively in oats. Avenanthramides have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itching activity, and may provide additional protection against coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and skin irritation. They also may play a role in controlling blood pressure.
3. Oats Make an Easy, Balanced Breakfast
One cup of cooked oatmeal contains about 150 calories, four grams of fiber (about half soluble and half insoluble), and six grams of protein. To boost protein further, my favorite way to eat oatmeal is with a swirl of almond butter nestled within. This powerful combo will keep you away from that midmorning visit to the vending machine.
4. Oats Provide Important Vitamins and Minerals
Nutrient-rich oatmeal contains thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron.
5. Oats Are Gluten-Free
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but check with manufacturers to ensure that their products are not made using the same equipment as other potentially contaminating grains. (Always purchase gluten-free products from reputable companies and read food labels carefully.)
6. Oats May Help You Control Your Weight
Oats can keep you feeling fuller longer, thereby helping you control your weight. Sadly, carbs are often shunned and feared by those looking to drop a few pounds, but whole grains can squash hunger and simultaneously provide that pleasant “ahhhh” feeling carb-lovers crave. As with any other food, be mindful of portion sizes.
7. Oats Can Be Savory, Too
Although oats are usually paired with sweet foods like brown sugar and cinnamon or fruit, oats also make a perfect savory side dish. Oats provide a texture similar to buckwheat, and their bland taste is like a blank canvas for a variety of seasonings and spices. You can combine oatmeal with your favorite vegetables or last night’s leftovers, and top with an egg or a sprinkle of cheese to enjoy breakfast for dinner.
Foods that bring back comforting memories are precious and should be savored slowly. But proceed with caution when it comes to what I call “Ratatouille impersonators” — foods that remind you of a past experience but taste nothing like the original. For example, instant flavored oatmeal may conjure up Mom or Dad’s homemade dish, but in reality, it may have more than 10 grams of sugar as compared with 1 gram. Make sure your oatmeal is healthful by choosing brands with little to no added sugar, and add your own toppings for flavor. To stay on the safe side, look for brands that list only oats on their ingredient list.