Oatmeal is a hearty breakfast choice any time, but it’s never more satisfying and filling than on the frigid winter mornings that show no signs of relenting in the Northeast.

What’s so great about oatmeal for cycling energy? This whole grain is the nutritional equivalent of a multi-tool. Low in fat, sodium and sugar, oatmeal is packed with key vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that help reduce cell damage. It’s loaded with dietary fiber (4 grams, or 15 percent of recommended Daily Value, per one-cup, prepared serving), a heart-healthy property that can help reduce cholesterol levels. High-fiber foods also provide steady release of energy from carbohydrate to power a ride.

Here’s the version that I like. Just multiply it to feed a family or to make a big batch for reheating. It’s not just for breakfast, either. Fitness fiend Cameron Diaz recently told Self Magazine that she likes to slice up cold oatmeal as a healthy post-workout snack.

Makes 1 serving

Calories: 150 for the oatmeal alone, or 302 with toppings

½ cup whole grain oats

1 cup water

½ banana, thinly sliced

1 TB pure maple syrup

1 TB chopped, toasted walnuts

Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add oats and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Layer on banana slices, then sprinkle with walnuts and top with maple syrup.

You can zap the oatmeal in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. But, if you’ve got time, there’s homey comfort — and potential psychological value — in cooking it up on the stove top in the morning. A study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that rituals around food, like uncorking wine or cutting sandwiches into squares, increase interest, involvement and pleasure.  Not that a steaming bowl of oatmeal needs much help in that department.

 Photo: velojoy

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