Long before most Americans knew whole grains as a cornerstone of nutrition, oats were known as heart-healthy foods, and were labeled as such as early as 1997.
The soluble fiber in oats has been proven to lower cholesterol by eight to 23 percent. Each percentage point makes you two percent less likely to have a heart attack.
Like all superfoods, oats are high in phytonutrients and also include potassium, zinc and magnesium. High in fiber and protein, oats will keep you full, but because they’re low in calories, they’ll also keep you slim.
Oats are vegetarian, inexpensive and widely available, making it easy for most people to integrate them into their current diet.
Oatmeal is usually thought of as a breakfast for one, which is why I love this feed-a-family recipe for the superfood. Just 30-40 minutes in the oven makes a big dish of healthy, steaming oats to share with your loved ones – ideal for weekend or holiday breakfasts.
Cinnamon-Cranberry Baked Oatmeal
3 cups steel-cut or rolled oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup honey or agave syrup
1 cup milk (whole milk works best)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
Optional: chopped nuts of your choice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together separately. Combine the two, folding in the berries and nuts (if desired).
Spread the oatmeal into a baking or casserole dish. If the dish does not have a lid, cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, stir and re-spread the oatmeal. If the oatmeal is drying out, add a splash of milk or water.
Bake for another 10 minutes, and check again to see if oats are cooked through. (You might want to check sooner if your oats were drying out too quickly.) Total baking time will be 30-40 minutes, or until oats are tender and liquid is absorbed. If liquid is not absorbing, remove lid for last five minutes of baking.
Ladle into individual bowls and serve warm.
Kate Jonuska is a freelance writer, photographer, food blogger and tech enthusiast who is also dining critic at The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs. (Thus the reason for no headshot here.) On the rare occasions when she's not cooking or eating, you'll find her hiking with her beloved dog, a corgi named Ein.