Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oats, and a New Jam

My fig jam finally came in the mail. : ) Hooray! 

I'd been quite excited about this jam for awhile. I ordered it from Vitacost, using a free $10 coupon I had.  (Side note: if you want to give a try, you can sign up for their rewards program through this link and get an automatic $10 coupon! By using this link as a reference, I get $10 too. : ) )

We already talked about how good figs are for you and your heart, and I was excited about this jam in particular because it's only sweetened with grape juice. So, 100% fruit, and no extra sugar to worry about. Anyways, as soon as I got it I started trying it on things. 

The Little Miss was a huge fan. Every time she sees me get the jar out, she starts signing "more" like there's no tomorrow.

My favorite so far has been a nice spoonful mixed in with some steel-cut oats. Oatmeal is a wholesome food for your heart, and very hearty, and I have been into eating the steel-cut variety for breakfast most mornings. Steel-cut oats aren't any better for your than rolled oats, they just have a bit of a different texture. They're a bit chewier; less mushy and gooey, and they hold up on their own a bit more. It gives a nice, nutty munch to your breakfast. You should give it a try sometime. 

Oats- Oats are a wonderful source of saponins, which bind to cholesterol in the digestive tract. They also contain soluble beta-glucan fiber which is helpful for reducing cholesterol.
Figs-They are packed with fiber, plant sterols, polyphenols, potassium, and vitamin B6.  Figs have both insoluble and soluble fiber, but it's the soluble pectin fiber that may be instrumental in lowering blood cholesterol. Plant sterols may also help lower LDL cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease. Polyphenols help neutralize dangerous free radicals and prevent chronic disease- and dried figs have up to fifty times more than most fruits and vegetables! A potassium rich diet may lower the risk for heart attacks and strokes, and your blood pressure. Vitamin B6 is linked to improving heart health by lowering levels of homocysteine. Because of the lower water content, dried figs are actually more nutrient-dense than fresh. And, figs have the highest mineral content of any common fruit, helping to nourish blood, build bones, and protect the heart!

Source: Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You,  The Reader's Digest Association

Here's a nice, simple recipe for breakfast. I like to make the oatmeal ahead of time, then just keep it in the fridge and warm and doctor up each portion as I eat it. Makes for a quick breakfast as well. I even eat it cold sometimes, and it's surprisingly good. I also like mine creamy, so I make it with milk. You could definitely make it with water and be just fine. 

Oats with Fig Jam

1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups milk
1/8 tsp of salt
Greek Yogurt
Fig Jam

Cook your oats. Bring milk and salt to a light boil, then add oats. Be careful to stir your milk, and watch it constantly, to avoid scorching and boiling over. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your oats (I like mine nice and cooked, so I do a full 20 minutes. If these directions differ from the ones on your oats package, follow their directions.)
Portion up your oatmeal in bowls, and add as much yogurt and jam as desired. I usually do 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1/4 cup of yogurt, 1-2 Tbs jam.

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