Some simple and shockingly delicious recipes are coming in a moment. But first—did you know that more than 40% of us never eat whole grains? No wonder the US population is plagued by heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Meanwhile, research continues to accumulate that regular consumption of whole grains—at least three servings a day–can reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, boost immunity and improve your digestion and bowel function. And because they’re chock-full of fiber and make you feel full longer, they can also help you lose weight.

Bottom line—whole grains can extend your life. This was recently proven by researchers from Harvard University. They followed more than 100,000 people for more than 24 years to confirm that a higher intake of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease. Compared with people who rarely ate whole grains, people who ate the equivalent of just one bowl of oatmeal daily reduced their risk of early death by 9% and their risk of death from heart disease by 15%. Each additional ounce of whole grains per day reduced risk of early death by another 5% and risk of death from cardiovascular disease by another 9%.

Maybe you’re not crazy about the taste of a bowl of oatmeal? I get that—so read on for the recipes!

EXOTIC OATMEAL MAKEOVERS

To get more whole grains in your diet, think beyond breakfast. Of course, you can opt for whole-grain sandwich bread or whole-grain pasta or serve cornmeal polenta or a whole-grain pilaf instead of white rice or potatoes—but why not try something really different and adventurous? Do something really creative and scrumptious with oatmeal…

Here are two hearty and exotically flavorful recipes from Sam Stephens, Quaker Oats chief creative oatmeal officer and owner of OatMeals Restaurant in New York City. One recipe puts a Latin twist on oatmeal, the other an Asian one. The main ingredient in both is steel-cut oats, which are more flavorful, chewier (in a good way) and less processed than rolled oats. Many people who don’t like rolled oats find that they love steel-cut oats—so give these a try.

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Plantains over Oatmeal
Black_beans2Ingredients for four servings:
1 cup steel-cut oats
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 firm, ripe plantains, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 2-inch pieces
1 whole large onion, diced
1 whole green pepper, diced
½ cup chicken broth/stock
2 15-oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pinch of salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Fresh sliced avocado (optional)
Queso fresco cheese (optional)

Preparation:

• Cook the oats according to the package directions, and set aside—but keep warm.

• Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and sauté the sliced plantains in it for four to five minutes until they are golden and slightly browned.

• Remove them from the pan, and then heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the diced onion and green pepper for five to seven minutes until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown.

• Add the beans, chicken stock, cumin, salt and pepper to the pan, and cook for another five to eight minutes until the beans are heated.

Divide the oatmeal into four servings, and top with the black beans and the plantains. If desired, garnish the dish with fresh cilantro, sliced avocado and cheese.


Thailand Smiles (for peanut lovers)

thai smiles2Ingredients per serving:
¼ cup steel-cut oats
2 Tablespoons flaked coconut
1 Tablespoon chopped peanuts (roasted and salted)
¼ cup diced or crushed pineapple (canned or fresh)
1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 ½ teaspoons hot sauce
1 lime wedge
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation:

• Cook the oatmeal according to package directions, and set aside—but keep warm.

• Toss the coconut, peanuts and pineapple together.

• Blend the peanut butter and hot sauce.

• Top the oatmeal with the coconut, peanuts and pineapple, and drizzle with the peanut butter and hot sauce mixture.

• Garnish with wedge of lime and fresh cilantro.