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Oatmeal is a whole grain that can be a delicious, warm way to add whole grains to your eating patterns during the cold winter season. Oats are full of important nutrients like vitamins B and E, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. This grain contains beta-glucan, a special kind of fiber, found to be especially effective in lowering cholesterol and insoluble dietary fiber, which has anticancer properties. Best of all, oats, like most other whole grains, can help us maintain a healthy weight.

There are several types of oatmeal such as rolled oats, quick cooking oats, instant oats, oat flour, and steel-cut oats. All these types have similar nutritional values, but many times instant oatmeal has other ingredients added such as sugar. The only way to know if there are ‘extra’ ingredients is to read the ingredient label of the product.

Ideas to boost nutrition and flavor include:

• Make oatmeal with calcium-rich milk instead of water.

• Toss in raisins or dried cranberries and chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans.

• Add fresh or frozen berries or other fruits like apples or bananas.

• Mix in ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce.

• Sprinkle with cinnamon for sweetness, it adds flavor without calories. With a dusting of cinnamon, a smaller amount sweetener, or perhaps none at all, may be needed.

If eating a bowl of oatmeal isn’t something you even want to consider, try using rolled oats in baked products like cookies, muffins or breads. Oatmeal can be used in place of breadcrumbs in meat loaf or patties. Couple a goal of eating more servings of whole grains with a regular exercise program for a healthier you.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Let’s put those pumpkin carving leftovers to use with this Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal! Simply place all the ingredients in the pot, turn the cooker on 6-8 hours and let your house begin to smell like fall!

Ingredients:

• 1 cup steel-cut oats

• 2 ½ cups water

• 1 ½ unsweetened almond milk

• 1 cup pumpkin puree

• 3 tbsp maple syrup

• 1 tsp vanilla

• 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

• ½ tsp cinnamon

• ¼ tsp salt

Directions:

1. Add all the ingredients into slow cooker and mix well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you have a programable slow cooker, set it to cook on low for 7 hours and then switch to warm.

2. After cooking, give the mixture a good stir as the oats will settle to the bottom. Portion into a bowl and serve.

3. Optional: top with pecans, maple syrup, and almond milk.

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