DIY Oatmeal mix

This being the first of the year, when people renew their vows to eat healthy, I’m sharing my easy, cost-effective oatmeal mix.  I don’t buy the single-serving oatmeal packages or flavored oatmeal.  I make my own, for pennies a serving.  Lots of people try slow cooker or Instant Pot oatmeal, or overnight refrigerator oatmeal.  To me these methods require way too much unnecessary time and effort.  (Caveat–I cook for one; not a family.  A family may change the efficiencies.)

I buy the 42 oz. carton of quick oats; currently $2.39 at Aldi.  That works out to 45 servings at 5.3 cents each.

oatmeal

Shopping list for the mix:  (Dillons/Kroger prices listed)

  • Oat bran — $2.69 for 18 oz
  • Wheat bran — $1.99 for 8 oz
  • Chia seeds — $3.99 for 12 oz
  • Flax seed — $4.49 for 16 oz
  • Sugar
  • Ground Cinnamon

mix ingredients a w labels rsr

The packages of seeds and bran store neatly in a basket in the back of my frig.

mix ingredients frig a w rsr

Measure into a pint-sized jar:

  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Bran
  • 1/4 cup Flax Seed (ground)
  • 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 4 tsps. ground cinnamon (optional)

The ingredients will look like this in the jar:

oatmeal mix a w rsr

Shake the jar until the ingredients are mixed.oatmeal mixed a w rsr

I keep an old broken teaspoon in the mix jar, and an orphaned 1/3 measuring cup in the oatmeal canister.


To make a bowl of oatmeal

For breakfast stumble into the kitchen sleepy-eyed, and measure into a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 tsps of the mix
  • 3/4 cup of milk (whole, 2% or skim–your choice)

I use a large soup bowl so it doesn’t boil over in the microwave.

  • Microwave on high for 90 seconds.
  • Stir and let cool for a few minutes; then eat.

mix in bowl a w rsr

I eat this oatmeal every. single. morning.  It’s a small breakfast, so around mid morning, I usually need a ‘second breakfast’ of toast or an egg; or I eat a very early lunch.

Additional notes and tips on the oatmeal mix:

  • Buying all of the ingredients at once may seem pricey; especially if you aren’t sure you’ll like it.  So my suggestion is to buy one item each trip to the store, and start using that item in your oatmeal.  Start with oat bran, then wheat bran, then chia seeds, then flax seed.
  • Flax seed can be purchased as whole seeds, and then ground in a coffee mill for the mix.
  • Cinnamon definitely changes the taste.  I suggest trying it in one bowl before making a whole batch of mix with cinnamon. I’m used to the taste, and I like that it ‘might’ have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • I’m not sure the sugar is necessary.  I don’t need my oatmeal to be sweet.  I plan to make my next batch of mix without the sugar and see if I like it.
  • For an extra jolt of flavor and nutrients, try tossing a few craisins, raisins or other dried fruit pieces into the bowl before putting it in the microwave.

When I say I eat this every morning, I mean every morning.  If I’m going on a trip, I pack my own individual oatmeal packets; one for each morning I’ll be away.  Usually I pack some powdered milk too, so I can make breakfast with hot water, in case that’s all I’ll have access to.

mix for overnight a w rsr

Here are the potential health benefits of the ingredients as described in WebMD and Livestrong:

Oatmeal — LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol management

Milk — Essential for bone density; helps with blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and weight management.

Oat Bran —

“Oat bran might work by blocking the absorption from the gut of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  When applied to the skin, oats appear to reduce swelling.”

Wheat Bran — 

“Wheat bran is a source of fiber. Some people take wheat bran by mouth for preventing diseases of the large intestine (including cancer), stomach cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, and a condition where the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscle (hiatal hernia). It is also used for treating constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

Flax Seed — 

“There’s some evidence it [flax seed] may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Chia Seeds —

“Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet.”

Cinnamon —

“Lab studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.”

This is your brain on spicy food

Shun anything spicy, is what I did until I was well into my 30s.  Even the ‘mild’ sauce option was a no-go for me at restaurants.  Then came a New Mexico bus tour guide.  His explanation to us of why people get hooked on spicy food changed my food life, literally.  It’s because spicy foods make you feel good!  It’s an endorphin release.  So, the me who has always believed in the power of endorphins when it came to exercise and chocolate, resolved to test out the effect of spicy foods.

First, the important thing:  How do you get relief from the burning sensation when the heat gets to be too much?

  • Take another bite.  This will only cool things off for a brief moment, because eventually you run out of the food you are eating.
  • Drink milk.  This will soften the burn.  Other dairy works too, such as sour cream or cream cheese.  Milk had always been my go-to relief, and the tour guide confirmed it is the best relief.
  • Water and soda pop don’t work.  The soda actually magnifies the sensation.  The tour guide confirmed this, too.

milk carton sm x2

Ways to start adapting your palate to spicy foods:

  • Picante sauce.  If you usually get mild, try medium by using less sauce and keeping milk or sour cream at hand for a quick cool down.
  • Rotel tomatoes and melted cheese dip.  Aka, ‘Queso’.  Who doesn’t know how to make this tailgating staple?  It’s got your spicy hot flavor and dairy combined in one scrumptious dip.  Rotel makes several options for how hot you want it.

Rotel page2

old-bay-seasoning-6oz

  • Hot Italian sausage.
    • Make it your go-to pizza topping.
    • Substitute it for ground beef in homemade Spaghetti and Lasagna.
  • BBQ Hot Links.  Almost every barbecue restaurant around here offers hot links on their menu.  It’s my standing order.  For home cooking, I like to buy my spicy hot links here.  https://www.yodermeatsks.com
  • Spicy jams and jellies.  If you don’t see them on your grocery shelf, try the nearest farmer’s market, or order it online.  I order from Simply Homemade, a maker in Minnesota.  She and I have been friends for several years, because of her hot pepper jellies, and our shared love of ’60s music.  (Scroll down on her page for the hot pepper jellies.)  The jellies are great on buttered toast or Ritz crackers.  To control the heat, first spread a layer of cream cheese, then dab the jelly on top of the cheese.

Grow your own?  For the first time, I’m trying to grow peppers.  Apparently, I got them planted too late in the season, so I haven’t been able to pick any yet.  There are a bunch of little growing peppers and blossoms on the plant, so I’m trying to keep the plant from freezing.  I badly want my first-ever harvest of Poblanos.

Run


More from the web on spicy foods and their mood-elevating effects:

1.  From Northwestern University.  “Now that we know why peppers are hot, you might be asking yourself, “Why exactly would anyone seek out this burning sensation?” The answer to this question can be found in the way our brains are wired. Capsaicinoids trick the brain into thinking it is being burned, which is a painful experience, through the transmission of neurotransmitters. Remember, earlier when I said your neurons play telephone. Well, when your body senses pain somewhere like the tongue that message has to make it to the brain. The message is sent from the location it is initially generated to the brain through a network of neurons by talking to each other via neurotransmitters, which are essentially chemical messages. One such message produced by capsaicinoids is substance P, which transmits pain signals. The brain responds by releasing another type of neurotransmitter known as endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural way of relieving pain by blocking the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals. Additionally, the neurotransmitter dopamine, responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure, is also released. In essence, for some people eating large amounts of spicy food triggers a sense of euphoria similar to a “runner’s high”.  Source:  http://helix.northwestern.edu/blog/2014/07/your-brain-capsaicin

2.  From MedicalDaily.com. “If you haven’t jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon yet, maybe you’ll want to after reading this. Spicy food, that oh-so-tingling, burning, get-it-out-of-my-mouth food, actually induces a natural high minutes after eating it. And hey, the spicier the better.

Chili peppers in particular contain high levels of the substance capsaicin, which causes the burning sensation in spicy food. The chemical has been proven before to work as a topical painkiller for arthritis, and also forces the brain to release endorphins. “The endorphins work to block the heat,” Paul Bosland, cofounder and director of New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, told ABC News in 2012. “The body produces them in response to the heat, which it senses as pain.” The result: a strong head buzz and numbness.

Some research even suggests capsaicin in higher levels can have mildly hallucinogenic effects. According to History, Mayans used them over 9,000 years ago as stimulants, while today’s chili eaters have reported seeing objects that weren’t even in the room and losing feelings in body parts.”  Source:  https://www.medicaldaily.com/pass-spicy-food-4-ways-get-high-without-any-drugs-whatsoever-323588

3.  Chile Facts‘ is a useful information page on the various hot peppers.  http://chilefacts.nmsu.edu/


So there you go.  If you’ve always shunned spicy foods, you may be denying yourself a great dose of endorphins.  Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and try to expand the limits of your taste buds.

And yes, the title of this post comes from the 1980s commercial.  It’s still true.