Warm Up with this Delicious Cocoa Oat Breakfast
Winter weather lends itself to starting the day with a hot breakfast. If you are getting sick of your normal, everyday oatmeal, this dish is a great way to change things up.
This baked dish is full of nutrients and healthy fruits (and even a sneaky vegetable!) and is great for the whole family. The recipe features strawberries and blueberries, but can be easily customized to meet your tastes. For those following a plant-based diet, this is a perfect start to the day.
Why are Oats a Good Main Ingredient for Breakfast?
Oats are among the healthiest grains on the planet. In addition to being tasty, they're a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood glucose levels, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
A bowl of oatmeal a day can improve immunity because it contains selenium and zinc. Oats are also high in phosphorus manganese, minerals that are instrumental to bone, muscle and heart health. Besides making a great breakfast cereal, oats are excellent for baking in cookies, breads, snack bars, and muffins.
Why are Oats Good for You?
Oatmeal’s claim to fame is its proven ability to lower bad cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol. Chalk that up to a type of soluble fiber called beta glucan. Beta glucan has been studied extensively for its effects on heart health and cholesterol levels, as well as been shown to boost immunity and stabilize blood glucose levels.
Eating oats is linked to an average 5-8% drop in LDL cholesterol, research shows. Many other things also affect your heart's health (like what else you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke), but oatmeal is a simple heart-smart start. Oatmeal also:
Lowers blood glucose levels
Promotes healthy bacteria in your gut
Helps you to feel full to manage your weight
Oats are a great source of carbohydrates and fiber, including the powerful fiber beta-glucan. They also contain more protein and fat than most grains. Plus, they are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant plant compounds. A half-cup of oats contains 51 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 8 grams of fiber, but only 303 calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
Oat Buying Tips
Be careful and check labels, because sometimes oats could be processed with other grains that do contain gluten and suffer from cross-contamination. Steel-cut oats also do not naturally contain gluten, which makes them a great option for individuals trying to stick to a gluten free diet.
Make sure to check labels to see if the steel-cut oats you buy have been processed with any other materials, or look for steel-cut oats that are clearly labeled as gluten free oats. Even if you are not gluten free, it helps to have steel-cut outs because they are the best, but obviously most oats without additives are going to be good.
Sneak in Some Spinach!
Spinach is a nutritious, leafy green. This vegetable has been shown to benefit health in several ways, classifying it as a superfood. Spinach may decrease oxidative stress, improve eye health, and help prevent heart disease and cancer. If you're interested in its health-boosting potential, spinach is an easy food to add to your diet.
Why is Spinach a Superfood?
This leafy vegetable is considered a superfood. But, why? The reason why spinach is considered a superfood is because of the loads of nutrients and low-caloric value that it possesses. This leafy vegetable also benefits your skin, hair, and bones.
Spinach is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including:
Vitamin A. Spinach is high in carotenoids, which your body can turn into vitamin A.
Vitamin C. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that promotes skin health and immune function.
Vitamin K1. This vitamin is essential for blood clotting. Notably, one spinach leaf contains over half of your daily needs.
Iron. Spinach is an excellent source of this essential mineral. Iron helps create hemoglobin, which brings oxygen to your body’s tissues.
Calcium. This mineral is essential for bone health and a crucial signaling molecule for your nervous system, heart, and muscles.
Spinach Buying Tips
When buying whole bunches of spinach, look for leaves that are crisp and dark green, and avoid those that are yellow, limp, or wilted. Spinach stems should be fairly thin. Thick, coarse stems indicate overgrown leaves that will be tough and bitter tasting.
If buying pre-washed, packaged spinach, inspect the bag for any slimy or yellow leaves, and also check the expiration or a "best if used by" date. Also, give bags a gentle squeeze; if the spinach has a springy feel, it’s fresh and crisp.
How to Store Fresh Spinach
Gently wrap fresh spinach in a paper towel to absorb excess water. Moisture speeds up the decaying process, so you'll want to keep it to a minimum.
Place the paper towel-wrapped spinach in a storage container or bag. Seal the container tightly.
Store the spinach in the crisper drawer of your fridge for about 10 days.
Cocoa Oats with Peanut Butter and Berries
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp peanut butter powder
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup strawberries cut in half or quarters
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/4 cup almond milk or your favorite non-dairy beverage
- 1 tsp ground flaxseed
- 1 cup spinach
- Bring the water to a boil and add the steel-cut oats. Lower heat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the oats are soft and the water is absorbed.
- Once cooked, immediately stir in the cocoa powder, peanut butter powder, and vanilla.
- In a bowl place the spinach, top with the cooked oatmeal, strawberries, blueberries, and almond milk.
- Sprinkle with the flaxseed.