I have plenty of favorite foods. My favorite all-time food is a potato. My favorite breakfast food is pancakes; and sure, I’ll take some roasted potatoes on the side with that. My favorite fruit is a banana and my favorite vegetable is a carrot. You get the idea.
Lately, my favorite breakfast food of choice has been oatmeal. And I’ve been eating a heck of a lot of it lately. Before the trip home to NJ, I was making oatmeal every morning for a few weeks to take to work with me. Since being in NJ, I think I’ve had oatmeal every morning I’ve slept at my parents’ house and I can’t seem to get tired of it…not that I’m trying!
The oatmeal is my creation, but I can’t take credit for these Harlow pancakes. Just the photo 😉
It’s the perfect breakfast food though. No matter how healthy I try to make pancakes–my favorite breakfast food and the food many long distance runners “reward” themselves with after long runs–I generally feel way too full after eating them. And I know what you’re thinking: “Will, just make those mini pancakes that all over Instagram and you’ll be fine.” Thanks for the advice. But instead of making 3 or 4 medium-ish size pancakes, I’ll end up making 8 “mini” ones and feel the same way. I rather save them for an occasional weekend breakfast with Val and continue with my oatmeal, especially during the winter. After a morning run, it’s so great to sit down with a hot bowl of cooked oats and a cup of hot coffee and just enjoy that I’m healthy and able to do what I love to do which is to run, be with my beautiful fiance every day, take care of my wonderful cats, talk on the phone with my mom every morning, and so much else. Okay…holiday break with the family has gotten me somewhat emotional. I see that now.
I don’t just make a regular bowl of plain oats though. I do it up and I do it up right (and mindfully). For example:
Is there any reason I should’t be adding spinach to my oatmeal? Can’t think of any, right? Neither can I. Plus, the spinach made this bowl of oats like might festive and perfect for the holidays. I topped it with hemp seeds and some of my mom’s cranberry jam for the final touch. Hemp seeds are a phenomenal source of protein so those, plus the addition of spinach and the bowl of oats makes for a protein-packed breakfast.
So without further ado, here are 3 reasons why, for my health and my running, I love eating oatmeal.
Oats are nutrient-dense. Where do I begin? I’ll start with the fiber. The fiber in whole grains is well-supported and known to improve cholesterol levels. Oats are also a good source of protein which is even more perfect for that postrun or postworkout breakfast. Oats are also an excellent source of manganese (important for the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors and aids in energy metabolism, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation and other functions) and phosphorus (important for bone health, but recommended to be balanced with calcium; read more here). A bowl of oatmeal is great for providing your body with so many other nutrients/minerals such as zinc, iron, carbohydrates (duh) and so much more. So why do I use the term nutrient-dense? Because this term describes foods that are relatively low in calories for the high amount of nutrients it contains and provides.
Oatmeal can be very versatile. You know the drill: make your oatmeal, slice up your banana or throw in some blueberries, sit down (maybe grimace), eat. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Ever. There are so many ways to mix it up every single day if you want to. One example was the spinach example above. You could add (separately or altogether; whatever floats your boat) peanut butter, jam, different fruits such as pomegranate, fig, or apricot, cacao nibs, cinnamon, a dollop of nondairy yogurt, chia seeds, maca powder, matcha powder, goji berries ($$-let me get some first, please?)…do you see what I mean by versatile? No?! Okay how about oatmeal for dinner: spices (turmeric, cayenne, curry, garlic, etc.), mushrooms, marinated tofu or tempeh, diced potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc. And yes, it’s delicious for dinner. If you can eat it for breakfast, why not for dinner?
My body takes it in well and I feel great all day. There’s really no other way to say that. My body likes it and tells me that I can use it as fuel for the next day’s workout so why wouldn’t I listen to it? I can use it as fuel for a morning workout too, I’m sure, but I prefer to run fasted (no breakfast or snack beforehand) so I opt to recover with a nutritious and delicious bowl of oats. What’s also great is that the fiber and the protein keeps my nice and full for hours after eating it even when my morning workout was an intense one.
Choose oatmeal that is not of the Maple Brown Sugar or Apples and Cinnamon variety as these kind of oatmeal packets are generally very high in sugar. Opt for oatmeal out of a scoop-it-yourself container or a reputable health foods brand such as Bob’s Red Mill. If you choose steel cut oats then you are looking at an even higher nutrient-density than rolled oats.
So, we have essential micro and macronutrients. It makes me feel good. It’s a great source of many nutrients a runner needs and what is missing can be easily added to make this even more nutritious and delicious (Can I use this term twice in one post?). There’s probably more, but that’s sure enough for me!
The only downside of eating oatmeal:
If you don’t clean the pot or bowl within 15 seconds, it transforms into cement!!
Do you eat oatmeal? Why or why not? If so, what’s your preferred way of eating it and do you have any recipes you use to mix up your bowl of oats?