Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Not to Make Oatmeal

Brynna occassionally enjoys having oatmeal for breakfast. She particularly enjoys it with Deen - it's one of the things they do together. Sometimes I attempt it, and Brynna is, usually, receptive.

When I do it, here's what's in it and how I make it:

  1. Oats, about 1/3 cup dry

  2. A few raisins or craisins for taste

  3. boiling hot water

  4. stir

  5. If using rolled oats (not instant), cook in the microwave for about 20 seconds

  6. 1/2 tsp maple syrup

  7. 3 T unsweetened soy milk to cool things off and get the consistency right

Mark Bittman, who used to write minimalist recipes and cooking techniques for the NYTimes, has a weekly opinion piece on food policy. This might seem a dry subject, but what we eat, where it comes from, how it's made, and how we eat it is no small matter. In today's piece, Bittman describes the travesty that is McDonald's take on oatmeal. Some of the highlights:

They’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.

I use oats from the bulk food section, possible five cents' worth. My other ingredients are pricier, but the infallable back-of-the-envelope tells me I'm still below $0.40.

“Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise. There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including “natural flavor”).

I'll admit that soy milk is hardly a naturally occurring product: it takes some work to turn raw soybeans into a healthful beverage. Even so, I can follow and understand the ingredient list, and the first two are filtered water and organic soybeans. Our maple syrup comes, unsurprisingly, from NH. The cranberries are sweetened, but it's with orange juice.

Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)

When Brynna and I want to get crazy, we'll add some chopped walnuts.

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