I try to balance being somewhat diet conscious with being creative in the kitchen like I did with the dinner I made last night: Bacon & Roasted Cauliflower Chowder. It was hearty, satisfying, and had a lot of flavor, but, with the exception of the fat & sodium from the bacon, was super healthy! I even kept my husband from his requested bread/bagel chips/ crackers alongside by baking up some thin crispy sweet potato chips while the soup was cooking. I satisfied his need for something starchy but didn’t add unnecessary carbs or calories! Win-Win!
That said, I have been known (alright, it happens a lot) to totally justify throwing all thoughts of the diet out the window when I eat at restaurants and indulge in luscious dishes I am not quite skilled enough (or brave enough) to try to re-create at home.
It’s hardest of all to be diet conscious when I’m feeling tired, stressed or sick and just want comforting, basic, no frills food like my Mom, Grandma and Alabama Aunts used to make.
Today is one of those comfort days. I have been battling bronchitis for more than 3 weeks and all I wanted was a no hassle simple bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I dug through the cupboards and found a variety of options:
- Gluten Free Oats (on hand for my gluten intolerant girlfriend);
- Whole Rolled Oats (unopened and I don’t even remember buying them);
- Quaker Quick 1 Minute Oats in the Cardboard Cylinder (for making cookies);
- Quaker Old Fashioned Oats; and
- A single microwave packet of Nutrisystem Oats ( my husband’s) YUCK and NO THANKS!
I have no interest in the over-processed, artificially sweetened and flavored, chopped into dust oats from a skinny envelope! I wasn’t in the mood for the time involved in cooking the whole rolled oats, skipped the cookie & gluten free ingredients and that left me only one viable option:
The stomach filling, hunger suppressing, creamy goodness and comfort of the white haired man on the round cardboard package of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats!
I had always assumed that the pre-packaged diet foods that come in those expensive, very restrictive diets was healthy. Boy was I in for a surprise! Have you ever looked at the back of one of those boxes of instant oatmeal in the envelope?
For 150 Calories, in a package of Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, you also get:
- 35.4 g Carbs (3 g Fiber)
- 7 g Sugar
- 1.5 g Fat
- 4 g Protein
- 140 mg Sodium
In order to make their oatmeal, you have to prepare it with 1/2 cup of fat free milk which adds an additional:
- 40 Calories (190 Calories total)
- 65 mg Sodium (205 mg Sodium total)
- 6 g Carbs (41.4 g Carbs total)
- 6 g Sugar (13 g Sugar total)
- 4 g Protein (A bonus for 8 g Protein total)
Compare that to what you get from a bigger (what they call “Heart Healthy” on the label) portion (still only 150 Calories) of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats that you spice up yourself with about 1/8 tsp Real Vanilla Extract and 1/4 tsp Cinnamon:
- 27.6 g Carbs (4 g Fiber)
- 1 g Sugar
- 3 g Fat
- 5 g Protein
- 0 mg Sodium
By taking 1 more minute in the microwave or a whole 3 more minutes to prepare in a pan on the stove you do lose the 3 extra g of Protein that using milk in the prep of the packaged oats adds, but you add 1 g of additional filling Fiber and save yourself from ingesting:
- 40 additional calories (that can be spent towards a glass of wine later)
- 205 mg Sodium
- 12 g Sugar
The preparation is really simple.
The fastest way is to prepare it in the microwave. In a microwave safe cereal bowl, I measure 3/4 Cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and stir in 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. I then add 1/2 cups water and 1/8 tsp Vanilla stirring all until it’s well combined. I cook the oatmeal on high power for two minutes then give the mixture a stir to test the consistency. My microwave is 10 years old, so I play it safe to avoid the dreaded boil over. I add 2 more cycles of 30 seconds on high, stirring in between, and end up with a creamy, but not dense and pasty bowl of hearty oatmeal.
I wish I could convince my husband that it really is easy to do, and can even be pre-packaged in a zip bag to take to work, so that he would stop buying and eating the Nutrisystem meals that bring so much unnecessary sodium and so many preservatives into his system, but that’s a fight for another day.
Today I am just going to sit here and enjoy my healthy, hearty, and oh so comforting, bowl of steaming hot oatmeal.
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