Friday, May 6, 2011

Raisins and Cinnamon and Peanuts--Oh My!

You should have eaten my breakfast this morning. Or, rather, you should have asked me to double my breakfast and give you half, because if you ate my breakfast then where would I be?

To make a long story even longer, last weekend I forced my boyfriend to clear the old food out of his cupboard. This included a box of irish oatmeal, which was purchased years back under the auspices of: "I should eat healthy. Oatmeal is healthy. Therefore, I should eat oatmeal." So he cooked the oatmeal, ate it, found it boring and undelicious, and left the box to sit in his cupboard for years.

Getting back to my breakfast, my dear boyfriend probably didn't enjoy his oatmeal so much because he cooked it up as just oats and water--not very exciting for the taste buds. My breakfast oats were so tasty! Here was the overall scheme:

1/4 C steel-cut oats soaked overnight in 1/2 C water
Add 1/4 C milk in the morning and cook
Mix in 1/4 C raisins, a liberal shake of cinnamon, and another of chia seeds
Top with two spoonfuls of peanut butter

Now, here's why this breakfast was particularly awesome. Check out this article, free from the journal Pediatrics. High Glycemic Index Foods, Overeating, and Obesity. In brief, twelve obese teenage boys were evaluated on three separate occasions. They were fed a breakfast specially engineered to have either a high, a medium, or a low glycemic index but the same overall caloric content. Their hunger rating and various blood parameters and were measured for the next 5 hours. Then they were fed lunch, the same as their breakfast. For the 5 hours after lunch, they had access to snacks and their food choices were monitored.

It's a very interesting study and not difficult to comprehend, so, really, go give it a read-through. The results were: the boys reported being hungrier during the 5 hours after the high-GI breakfast, and they consumed much more snacks during the 5 hours after the same high-GI meal for lunch. Even though a whole grain (oatmeal) was a major constituent of both the high- and medium-GI meal, the difference between instant and steel-cut oats led to a significant difference in reaction by the body. Having a meal higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates (an omelet) was even better at keeping insulin, hunger, and overall calorie consumption low.

Steel-cut oats have a GI value of 42, rolled oats 50, while instant oats are 66. Raisins are high at 64, but better those than brown or white sugar (both 70) since raisins also contribute fiber and iron, plus other fruity micronutrients. The overall glycemic load of my breakfast was lowered by the addition of milk (glycemic index 27) and peanut butter (40), in a sort of gestalt effect.

So all those times as a child that I enjoyed a nice piece of swiss cheese with my morning porridge at grandmother's house, I was doing something beneficial by getting a little extra protein and fat with my cereal grains.

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