Getting the Most Out of Oatmeal

You already know the importance of eating breakfast each morning (it kick-starts your metabolism and helps prevent overeating throughout the day). But what kind of breakfast has the most staying power? As an all-time breakfast favorite, oatmeal is a great choice for people on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet — but not all oatmeal is created equal.

Dr. Arthur Agatston, leading preventive cardiologist and author of The South Beach Diet Wake-Up Call, recommends steel-cut oats and rolled or old-fashioned, slow-cooking oats, rather than the more highly processed instant varieties. These high-fiber types of oatmeal have been minimally processed and will help keep blood sugar levels steady, minimizing cravings. Plus, studies have linked eating whole grains to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

It's also important to select hot cereals — including oatmeal — that have at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 2 grams of sugar per serving.

While steel-cut and rolled oats can sometimes require up to 30 minutes to cook, there are some tricks to speeding that along:

  1. Soak your oats overnight. Just boil water (at a ratio of 4 cups water to 1 cup oatmeal), add oats, stir, remove from the heat, and cover until morning. Reheat your oatmeal over a low flame for 9 to 12 minutes, or in a microwave oven briefly, adding more water or some fat-free or 1% milk, for a warm, hearty breakfast.

     

  2. Use a slow cooker. Assemble your oatmeal and other ingredients in a slow cooker at night, turn on, and wake up to a steaming bowl of hot cereal. Try our Overnight Oatmeal (Phase 2).

     

  3. Try a pressure cooker. With this appliance, oatmeal can be ready in just 5 minutes.

     

  4. Use a microwave oven. You can prepare steel-cut or rolled oats from scratch by microwaving them for on High for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in a high-sided container with fat-free or 1% milk. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.

     

  5. Prepare your oatmeal a few days ahead of time. It will stay fresh in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to five days. When it's time for breakfast, simply reheat a portion of the precooked oatmeal with one of the milk choices mentioned above.
 
To perk up the flavor of oatmeal, try mixing it with fresh or dried chopped high-fiber fruits (like apples or pears), then sprinkling some cinnamon on top.

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