The Healthy Librarian's Savory "Cheezy" Breakfast Oatmeal with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach
"Eat salad at as many meals as possible, even breakfast!"
-Ann Esselstyn, in "Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease"-
Anthony Yen, one of Dr. Esselstyn's original patients. Here, at age 81, at a Whole Foods/Engine 2 event, May 2010
"Cheezy" oats for breakfast? Have I really gone off the deep end? Probably--but let me explain how I got this crazy notion.
About four weeks ago, I ran into Dr. Esselstyn at the gym. He was headed in to go swimming--I was heading out to get to work. We had a mile-a-minute discussion about walnuts, nitric oxide, greens, alpha-carotenes & oatmeal. He told me how much he liked my post about that little-known antioxidant in oats--avenanthramide--and its beneficial effect on our blood vessels .
Turns out, according to Dr. Mohsen Meydani, the "oat expert" at the USDA-Agricultural Research Vascular Biology Lab at Tufts University, oats help prevent atherosclerosis by increasing artery-saving nitric oxide production in the endothelium or lining of our arteries. That's the "magic gas" that keeps the arteries relaxed and dilated. And it's a dose-response--the more avenanthramides you eat, the greater the nitric oxide production. The dose-response thing--that's the part of my post that really grabbed Dr. Esselstyn's attention. More oats=more nitric oxide!
To read the whole post about Oatmeal: The Breakfast of Champions click here.
The two new take-aways I learned in our morning conversation:
- Esselstyn noticed that his own cholesterol decreased about 8-10% when he started eating oatmeal after dinner, as a kind of dessert--and he always uses oat milk with his oats. As crazy as it sounds, oat milk is really delicious, and it's a staple in our pantry.
- Ideally, we should aim to include greens in our diet about 6 times a day--to get a regular nitric-oxide boost! And it looks like oats are a pretty good stand for greens in the nitric oxide boosting-department.
I hadn't known about the 6 times a day recommendation for greens. So let's see how it can play out:
- Morning oatmeal--topped with oatmilk (Here's where my new recipe comes in!)
- Mid-morning green smoothie snack
- Lunch time salad &/or meal that includes greens, like a sandwich stuffed with romaine or cilantro
- Mid-afternoon green smoothie snack
- Dinner side salad
- Main meal that includes greens, like a casserole, soup, a side dish--or adding greens to pasta or pizza
- **If you miss one of your six servings, there's always some after-dinner oatmeal for dessert or Mexican hot cocoa made with oat milk (click here for the cocoa recipe)
- Note: Esselstyn isn't a big green smoothie fan--too much fruit--and no chewing. I'm a big fan.
What Does Anthony Yen Have to Do with My "Cheezy" Oatmeal?
Well, Anthony always includes vegetables in his daily oatmeal breakfast! He adds about 3 handfuls of spinach or 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables and some low-sodium tamari to his morning oats. Don't think so? Not for me? That's what I thought at first, too. I was wrong!
Anthony was one of Dr. Esselstyn's early patients. He had a massive cardiac event on New Year's Eve 1987, followed by a quintuple bypass surgery that left him feeling immobilized, depressed, and hopeless.
Anthony said, "I blamed myself for what I had done to myself. I wanted to know what caused my disease, and how do I stop it." When Anthony told his cardiologist that he wanted to see Dr. Esselstyn, the cardiologist said, "Esselstyn is not a cardiologist. If you go to him, don't come back to see me."
Anthony was furious. "I wanted to get to the cause, and the doctor was so negative. So I fired the cardiologist, and went to Dr. Esselstyn on my own." As Anthony's wife Joseanne explains, "He had no hope. He was willing to do anything." pg. 24-25, Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease.
Anthony's story really came to life for me when I heard him tell it on a preview DVD of Forks Over Knives I saw last spring. His personal experience is both compelling and convincing. Soon after I viewed the DVD, I got to meet him when Rip Esselstyn came to town for a local roll-out of the national Whole Foods' Health Starts Here program. Read all about Whole Foods' down-right-revolutionary approach to a healthy diet-- here.
Is this distinguished gentleman who's brimming with health & vitality really over 80 years old? Was he really once overweight with severe heart disease? He and his wife Joseanne have been eating no-oil & plant-based for 24 years now, and his picture (above) says it all. He's also fantastic in Forks Over Knives!
At the Whole Food s Healthy Start Roll-Out in May 2010. That's me BEFORE I Cut Out Oil, Nuts, Chocolate & Avocados--and lost weight!
My "Cheezy" Savory Breakfast Oatmeal with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach
In the Pot, Ready to Cook - Doesn't Look a Thing Like My Fave Pumpkin Oatmeal
Anthony & Dr. Esselstyn were my inspiration to find an easy tasty savory breakfast oatmeal with greens. Today, I finally tried out a recipe, and I was happily surprised at the results. Actually, I thought it was fabulous--but that's me. Try it, and let me know what you think.
I'm also looking forward to hearing your suggestions for some other knock-your-socks-off savory seasonings. I'm throwing out the challenge! Greens for Breakfast! A call for recipes.
Honestly, it's kinda of like eating a savory frittata. Oooh--maybe some leftover potatoes, roasted red peppers, or even jalapenos for add-ins. But it's got to be something quick.
Makes 4 servings. Cooking Time: maybe 15 minutes?? Click here for the recipe on one page
My recipe is a variation of "You're So Cheezy" Savoury Oats, from There She Glows.
1 cup of steel cut oats
2 cups of water (you could substitute 1 or 2 cups of vegetable broth for the water)
1 cup of non-dairy milk. I used Eden-brand enriched soy milk
2 TBS. nutritional yeast (this is what gives it the "cheezy taste") It's high in B vitamins--click here
1/4 teaspoon or more of turmeric (this gets it nice & yellow)
1 1/2 tsp. of Bone Suckin' Sauce Seasoning & Rub (This has brown sugar, chili pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, & bell pepper) Could sub any Cajun or Southwest Seasoning you like)
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
a pinch or two of chipotle powder (optional--I like it spicy & use 1/4 teaspoon)
1 oz. of julienned sun-dried tomatoes (I love the brand called California Sun-Dried because they're already julienned, they're nice & soft & need no soaking.)
About a handful (5) dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into pieces & rinsed. Use any dried mushrooms you like.
2 1/2 ounces of fresh baby spinach, rinsed per serving of oatmeal!! I make enough oatmeal for 4 servings & each serving will need to be topped with 2.5 ounces of spinach. (You can substitute kale or any other green, too. Kale just takes longer to soften up)
1. Mix the oats, water, milk (or veggie broth), seasonings, tomatoes, & mushrooms into a pot.
2. Heat to boiling. Watch carefully, and turn it down to a simmer once it starts to boil. Stir occasionally, and check back in about 10 minutes. You'll want the water absorbed, and the oats nice & creamy.
3. When the oats are done, microwave one serving of spinach briefly, until it's soft, but not mushy. Depending upon your microwave this could take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
4. Top one serving of oatmeal with the softened spinach & mix. Enjoy!
5. Store the rest of the oatmeal (3 servings) in the fridge, and in the morning heat up 1 serving topped with the spinach in the microwave.
Check out this powerhouse of a breakfast! A double dose of nitric oxide boosting power from oats & spinach! Crazy how much nutrition is one breakfast bowl!
Savory "Cheezy" Oats with Greens
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
NEWS FLASH 1/25/11: Mark Bittman, the regular writer of the Minimalist column in the New York Times is switching gears. No more Minimalist! Mark's new gig will be advocating in the NYT for less meat & processed foods in our diets--for the health of the body & the planet, and for better farming practices. Food has become both a personal & a politcal issue for him. Read the whole story here.
"My growing conviction that the meat-heavy American diet and our increasing dependence on prepared and processed foods is detrimental not only to our personal health but to that of the planet has had an impact on my life and on that of the column. You can see this in dishes like stir-fried lettuce with shrimp, chickpea tagine with chicken, a number of bean dishes and the dozens of other meatless or less-meat recipes that have become dominant in the last five years.
In part, what I see as the continuing attack on good, sound eating and traditional farming in the United States is a political issue. I’ll be writing regularly about this in the opinion pages of The Times, and in a blog that begins next week. That’s one place to look for me from now on. The other is in The Times Magazine, where I’ll be writing a recipe column most Sundays beginning in March."