Celebrate with Oatmeal

January is National Oatmeal Month. It’s time to stock your pantry for your oatmeal adventure.

Nothing is more satisfying than to cozy up to a warm bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is a comfort food (yeah, a healthy comfort food!) that is nourishing and delicious.  This heart-healthy breakfast food is a good source of fiber, molybdenum, and manganese which both offer antioxidant protection, stabilize blood sugar, and more.  It is a great way to brighten up the start of the day during the cold, dreary weather.

But let’s face it – oatmeal every day can get quite – well – boring.  I know.  Although it wasn’t oatmeal, I ate the same seven-grain hot cereal every morning for breakfast for years – something I don’t recommend you do!  Suddenly, one day I got tired of it. I had enough of it and I quit eating it.  “Healthier” boxed cereals  (low sugar high fiber) and an occasional bowl of hot cereal became my daily breakfast routine.

That is until my husband and I went to Cubs Spring Training (no judgment here please) in Mesa, AZ.  There are many vegan restaurants in the Mesa/Phoenix/Scottsdale area.  The vegan restaurant guide website www.happycow.com lead us to what became our favorite breakfast hangout every year we went to Spring Training.

Izzy’s Bakery and Café in Mesa served muffins, pancakes, smoothies, and OATMEAL!  Not just plain oatmeal in a bowl with plant milk and a smattering of fruit – Izzy’s had a variety of additions to add to her oatmeal that made it extraordinary. Everything in her café was oatmeal-based.

I got to know Melissa (Izzy) over the years and learned that prior to opening her restaurant, Melissa was a health coach.  That made sense because she had large boards on the wall of not only her menu, but also the health benefits of the ingredients.  She would go from table to table to chat with her customers and always shared the health benefits of what they were eating.  What a fun place it was to be!

Here were some of her oatmeal choices:

  • walnuts/apple pumpkin pie spice
  • chocolate/peanut butter/apricots/almonds
  • morninga/goji berries/lemon peel/coconut chips/fennel seeds/cashews
  • lavender/raspberry bananas/walnuts
  • cranberries/maple/pecan/Ceylon cinnamon
  • blueberries/vanilla/almonds/chocolate/cherry
  • applesauce/cranberry/maple/pecan/applesauce/walnut

Oh, the possibilities! With a selection, every visit was a new adventure.

Think of your bowl of oatmeal as a blank canvas to build your bowl.  In addition to the above selections, it could include cherries, almond extract, and dairy-free yogurt or maybe almonds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted coconut flakes, and Ceylon cinnamon. How about apples, raisins, and hemp seeds or pears, vanilla extract, and dairy-free yogurt?  The Whole Grains Council website has a recipe for adding sautéed chopped kale and miso to oatmeal. Whatever you choose, adding fruit as a topping to your creation will be like icing on a cake!  And bowl building is not just limited to oatmeal.  Using your favorite hot cereal as the canvas just opened up a lot more possibilities!

Unfortunately, Izzy’s Bakery and Café closed so Melissa could care for her father.  I’m glad Izzy’s got me back on track.  Oatmeal hasn’t been boring since.

Stock your pantry and let’s join in the celebration of National Oatmeal Month. Start by replicating some of Izzy’s Bakery and Café offerings and let your imagination go wild from there. What will be your first oatmeal adventure be?

Contributing Guest Writer: Jody Perrecone

Jody Perrecone is a certified nutrition consultant and graduated with honors from Bauman College. She graduated from CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) nearly two decades ago and has been an advocate for whole food plant-based nutrition ever since. She has a certification in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell University and is the founder of Perrecone Wellness. Jody has a passion for helping her clients experience their best life with optimal nutrition and enjoys helping them on their journey. She also conducts WFPB cooking classes and has given numerous wellness presentations over the years to corporations, organizations, and even health food stores. She lives in Rockford, IL with her amazing husband and entertaining cat, Pico.