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Dining In — Recipe of the Week: An ancient grain with modern benefits


It’s a great time of year for oatmeal, the ancient grain that is so very good for you in a variety of ways.

Even though we aren’t having a harsh winter so far, this is still the time we are more likely to cook oatmeal in the morning or set up overnight oats the night before so we can wake up to a hearty, sustaining breakfast.

America loves oatmeal; according to the website we eat an average of 5 pounds each year. Oats are served for breakfast, added to cookies and meatloaf, used for pie toppings, baked into bread, mixed into smoothies and are used to thicken soups.

An accepted way of reducing cholesterol, oats are high in energy, low in fat and a good source of fiber; when made with water, an average bowl of oatmeal contains about 166 calories.

If you prefer instant oatmeal over old-fashioned oats, don’t worry that you are losing nutrition; experts have determined that all types of oatmeal are whole grains, and are pretty much equal in basic nutritional value.

In addition to reducing cholesterol, studies have shown that oats have anti-inflammatory effects and contain antioxidants. The high amount of fiber in oats helps to improve digestion, and they contain B vitamins, vitamin E and magnesium. Oatmeal often is recommended by nutritionists for weight loss because it helps keep you feeling full.

Those of us who eat oatmeal on a regular basis know there are a variety of toppings that can make it taste even better. Those include fresh or dried fruit, nuts, applesauce, jam, cinnamon and any kind of nut butter.

Here’s a recipe from for oatmeal muffins suitable for breakfast or snacks.

Oat Muffins

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup milk

5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or 1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

coarse or cinnamon sugar,

for topping, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan or line the pan with papers and grease the papers.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, butter (or oil), eggs, and vanilla.

4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing only enough to combine evenly.

5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with sugar (if using).

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes before tipping the muffins out of the pan and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely.

7. Store, wrapped, at room temperature for 2 days or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: 1 dozen muffins