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Would you like some oatmeal with that sugar?

On a cold winter morning a bowl of oatmeal seems like a warm, filling and healthy breakfast. Oatmeal can be a healthy and quick whole grain cereal for a  snack or a meal on the go, but do you look beyond the grain itself to see what’s been added? The sugar in a single serving of oatmeal can exceed the upper limit of added sugar in our diet for a whole day. And the amount of sodium in a serving can be far more than you might guess…

Let’s look at several varieties of oatmeal that are available to cook at home or to take-out. Compare the sugar in the take-out varieties with the American Heart Associations recommendation of less than 22gm added sugar per day for women and less than 33gm added sugar per day for men. As you can see, plain oatmeal contains only whole grain and no sugar – whether you cook it at home or get it take-out without toppings. And who would have expected to get so much sodium in a breakfast cereal! So if time is a factor in the morning, why not make yourself a batch of steel cut oats and keep it in the refrigerator ready to just microwave when you need it. Steel cut oats, old fashioned oats and quick oats all have the same nutrient content but try to chose the least processed (e.g.steel cut, AKA pinhead oats) rather than the quick cook version. And if you must get your oatmeal away from home – choose a packet of plain instant oatmeal or skip the high cal toppings…

Oatmeal Svg Calories Protein Carbs Fiber Sugar Sodium
Dunkin BS/Frt 1 300 7 61 6 28 470
Dunkin Fruit 1 270 6 54 6 22 140
Starbucks 3 top’s 1 400 8 65 7 35 5
Kashi pkt 150 5 26 7 5 100
Wt Control Quaker pkt 160 7 29 6 1 290
Old Fash Oats 1 c. 150 5 27 4 0 0

Farro with Chicken Sausage and Apples

Farro photoFarro is a truly whole grain form of any one of 3 different varieties of wheat. It is similar to barley which could also be used in this recipe. It has a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. I selected Trader Joe’s “10 minute FARRO” to try and this recipe is my version of the recipe on the  package. Typically farro can take 45 minutes but this version is pre-cooked, saving you preparation time.

  • 1 heaping cup of 10 min Farro (uncooked)
  • 3 Sweet Italian Chicken Sausages, casings removed (or use ground chicken or turkey and a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs for a lower salt version)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup diced Onions
  • 1-3 cloves of Garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 large Apple, 1/2″ dice
  • Red chili flakes and salt to taste (optional)

Cook farro according to package directions and set aside. In a large skillet over moderate heat, crumble the sausage and stir occasionally until browned;  drain fat and set aside. Add olive oil to the pan to heat then add onion, garlic and apple.  Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add farro and sausage back to the skillet. Taste; season if desired with salt and chili flakes. Stir until warmed, about another 1 or 2 minutes. This recipe makes 4 meal portions. Serve with a salad and sliced oranges for dessert for a delicious Mediterranean dinner.

Farro with Chicken Sausage & Apples Food Label