bob's breakfast oatmeal

dr bob, a once aspiring mathematical physicist reduced to teaching unenthusiastic undergraduates that dreaded C-word (calculus), came from working class roots. Before going off to his carpenter/builder day, Dad always used to make himself a big bowl of Quaker Oats the old fashioned way, with boiling water on the stovetop. Occasionally bob would go for some weekend farina, a much smoother product, but that lumpy oatmeal never really appealed to him. Later in life another dreaded C-word changed this attitude. Not the Big C, but its little brother "cholesterol", elevated levels of which can lead to fatal heart disease. Or maybe not.

But in spite of the truckloads of oatmeal Dad ingested over his adult life, that dreaded cholesterol took him out anyway, although he had a 13 year reprieve after the first heart event at 53, a milestone year which is just around the corner for bob. And the family physician had counseled some action at the mid-century mark before moving on to Beverly Hills for a better life in a place other than "Pennsylvania—the state that loves you back" while continuing to increase malpractice insurance premiums. Apparently one of the many problems that afflict our backward state.

Just saying no to cholesterol lowering drugs from Big Pharma, bob decided to try to make some nutrition adjustments. Since ani was also cutting back on bad carbs, compensating for this reduction was already going in the right direction, but with all the press oats had been getting for a decade, giving morning oatmeal a try seemed like more than just a throwback to a family tradition: it seemed like a good choice to help balance the diet. Even the US official food pyramid was finally realizing which way the wind was blowing in the new millennium.

Starting with the package recommended dose of 1/2 c, for which all the nutrition info is calculated, bob found it too much once dressed up with the half-banana and fruit-flavored yogurt (usually peach) topped off by another cholesterol weapon: walnuts. Too filling, after taking into consideration the 5 g fiber toasted whole wheat muffin (plain) and the glass of juice. Lowering to 1/4 c cuts the benefits from the oats in half, but 1/4 c is better than zero. It seems impossible to actually eat all the daily recommendations from the food pyramid anyway: the alternative is to try balancing out what does actually get ingested on a regular basis.

After a year of higher fiber intake and better average carb quality and increased regular exercise on the gazelle machine, the new cholesterol numbers had only moved in the right direction a few points. What to do. Back to bob's original physician, who suggests a relatively new test: the carotid artery scan. Bad cholesterol numbers are only a POSSIBLE indication of trouble ahead. Without any other negative indicators (besides a father who dropped at 67 and his father who dropped at 63, at least saving themselves from the need for long term care insurance), there was no guarantee that the arteries were clogging up. The carotid arteries in the neck are big and accessible to an ultrasound examination coupled to high tech physics-intense machinery that checks out the situation. Like the canaries in the coal mines, but PETA friendly in that no animals need die in the testing. The test clears bob to continue just saying no to cholesterol lowering drugs. For now. But this oatmeal regimen is pretty tasty. No going back.

ingredients

1 T dried blueberries
1/4 c organic oatmeal oats
1 heaping T flaxseed meal
1/2 c cold water
1/2 banana [ani gets the other half]
1/2 container (6oz or 8oz container) fruit-flavored nonfat yogurt
2 T walnut pieces
optional strawberry pieces.

instructions

  1. Dump in some dried blueberries in the bottom of the cereal bowl.
  2. Dump in the oatmeal and shake in some flaxseed meal eyeing the measurement.
  3. Shake them up until the ingredients shuffle together randomly.
  4. Add two of the same 1/4 cup measures of cold water, to not throw off the microwave timing (warmer water = shorter time = greater danger of blowing up the oatmeal).
  5. Place the bowl on a plate and cover with a plastic microwave cover and insert into the microwave.
  6. Microwave on high 1 minute 20 seconds, or the time determined by trial and error for your microwave so that the oatmeal does not explode out of the bowl.
  7. Remove and deposit the yogurt evenly over the top, leaving some oatmeal showing around the border.
  8. Cut your half banana dropping the discs into the yogurt evenly. Add prepared cored and chopped strawberries if available. Sprinkle with some walnut pieces.
  9. Eat while giving the morning paper a once through. Complement by fruit juice and vitamins and the highest fiber content whole wheat muffins available. [Trader Joes.]

notes

  1. Fresh blueberries on top are a nice touch when not outrageously expensive. If you are feeling special, you might throw in some pistachios and slivered almonds. All these nuts are good for you in moderation, even if the walnuts make top billing by entry into the 14 superfoods list with oats and yogurt. Kiwi is another occasional option.
  2. The dried blueberries mush out sucking in some of the water as the oatmeal cooks. A nice touch only discovered by chance after a year of this routine. A decided improvement.
  3. Flaxseed is apparently way better than oats and many familiar fruits in its nutritional benefits. It adds a nutty taste to the oatmeal.
  4. On the weekend, bob does up a 1/8th cup dose for ani, who is not big on breakfast, so this portion reduction helps keep her stomach from overloading.
  5. Illustrations available.
bboatml.htm: 8-apr-2005 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]