"How could something this good for you, be so delicious? Eat it for breakfast or dessert. Served up warm with berries & walnuts, and just a hint of sweetness, your blood vessels & body will be thanking you!"
-The Healthy Librarian-
If you received this post via email, click here to get to the web version with all the links.
Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not about to trade in the Healthy Librarian's Savory "Cheezy" Oatmeal with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes & Spinach, Mike's Quick Kick A** Thai Peanut Butter Chili Oatmeal with Greens, or the Oatmeal Breakfast of Champions - Spiced Pumpkin Steel Cut Oats with Berries and Chia.
They still have a place in my heart. And health.
But, my version of Kathy Hester's "Chocolate Oatmeal Topped with Berries & Walnuts (and Chia)" is just crazy good and it has it all.
- Cholesterol-cutting steel cut oats that are loaded with both soluble & insoluble fiber.
- The atherosclerosis-preventing polyphenol, avenanthramide, found in oats, boosts the production of artery-saving nitric oxide. This is a dose-response relationship--so the more oats you eat--the more nitric oxide you're producing. Now you can enjoy oatmeal for dessert!
- The "miracle polyphenol", epicatechin, found in cocoa. It lowers blood pressure, neutralizes inflammation, increases HDL's, dilates blood vessels, helps prevent atherosclerosis, increases nitric oxide production and more!
- The anthocyanins found in berries--that boost memory, tamper inflammation, & clean out "toxic brain junk"--like mini-brain maids.
- Walnuts have the highest amount of antioxidants of all the nuts, as well as heart-healthy omega-3s, and a perfect ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. It's the best nut out there, hands down.
Could we ask for anything more?
Let's Thank Healthy Librarian Marlene for Discovering Kathy Hester's "The Vegan Slow Cooker"
My New Fave Cookbook and Where I Discovered Chocolate Oatmeal
The Back Story on How I Discovered Chocolate Oatmeal & the Vegan Slow Cooker
My fledgling "healthy librarian" friend & colleague, Marlene, hates to cook.
She's on a personal mission to find the perfect vegan cookbook with recipes that have less than 5 ingredients, no exotic spices like cayenne or cumin (I keep telling her that these are not exotic), and can be prepped in 5 minutes.
Every new vegan cookbook that she discovers--she borrows from the library--but since Kathy Hester's cookbook is so new, she couldn't find a library with a copy. So...she decided to buy a copy for herself.
She asked me what I thought of Vegan Slow Cooker. Did I think it looked good? Did I think the recipes were Esselstyn-style healthy?
Oh baby, was this one a winner. I immediately photocopied 16 recipes--hoping to try them out over the Christmas & New Year's holidays. Don't worry, Kathy. I've already ordered my own copy--and I'm recommending it to anyone who will listen.
Here's what I've tried, so far--and all were winners at my house:
- Cranberry Vanilla Quinoa (GF, SF)
- Be-My-Valentine Chocolate Oatmeal (GF, SF)
- Chili Relleno Casserole (GF)
- Chili-Chocolate Black Bean Brownies (GF, SF)
Here's what looked good to me--but trust, me everything in this cookbook looks good--but there was a limit to what I could copy:
- Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup (GF, SF)
- Chinese-Style Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (GF)
- Thai Red Curry Tofu and Veggies (GF)
- Chana Saag (Indian Greens with Chickpeas) (GF, SF)
- Easy Veggie Chickpea Biryani (GF, SF)
- Chorizo and Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole
- Atomic Tofu Pecan Loaf (GF)
- Pumpkin & White Bean Lasagna
- Texax-Style Tofu Taco Filling
- Carrot Cake and Zucchini Breat Oatmeal (GF,SF)
- Mango Coconut Rice Pudding (GF,SF)
- Hungarian Mushroom Soup (GF, SF)
- Soy Chorizo Black Bean Stew
- Apple Sage Sausage (GF version given, SF)
Full Disclosure: There's very little oil used in any of these recipes, and when there is, it's usually just to pre-saute the vegetables--or to oil the crock-pot. Easy to eliminate. Hester does use coconut milk in some recipes, but that's such an easy fix, with 1 cup of non-dairy milk plus 1 tsp. of coconut extract.
She tries to avoid using too much sugar or sweeteners, and there are plenty of gluten-free & soy-free recipes.
"Heart-Saving" Chocolate Oatmeal - Healthy Librarian-Style
Mixing up the Cocoa in a Cup of Milk & Water
Penzey's Special Deep Rich Cocoa - Not Really High-Fat At All!
How Yummy Does This Look in the Slow-Cooker? My House Smelled Heavenly!
Click here to get the recipe on one page
Adapted from Kathy Hester's "The Vegan Slow Cooker"
Serves: 4 large servings
Note: I doubled Kathy's recipe & used my cheapo Procter-Silex 3.5 quart slow-cooker. That way I had left-overs.
1 cup steel-cut oats
2 cups water
3 cups unsweetened soy milk or almond milk (vanilla flavor is fine)
1/4 cup good quality unsweetened undutched cocoa powder (Penzey's, Hershey's, Scharffen Berger's, or Ghiradelli's)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/4+ tsp. stevia (to taste) You can always add more to your oatmeal later if you want it a little sweeter--but watch out--stevia can get a little bitter if you add too much.
2 tablespoons of agave nectar (or maple syrup)
Options: 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon; 2-4 tablespoons of PB2, the defatted peanut powder
Top each serving of oatmeal with 1/4 cup of thawed, mixed frozen berries; 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts, & 1 tablespoon of chia seed, if desired.
The night before:
1. Spray your crockpot with Spectrum's high-heat canola cooking spray if food tends to stick to your slow-cooker.
2. Measure the milk & water, and then heat up about 1 cup of the liquid in the microwave, until very warm. Now, slowly mix in the 1/4 of cocoa with a tiny whisk. Cocoa usually doesn't mix well in cold liquids--that's why I pre-dissolve it, before adding it to the slow-cooker.
3. Add the oats, the milk, water, cocoa mixture, the vanilla, the stevia, & the agave. That's it!
4. Set the slow-cooker to low.
Hester says this should take 6 to 8 hours. Mine took only 6 hours! Just warning you.
5. Refrigerate the left-overs, and enjoy reheated the next 3 days!
Warning: My slow-cooker runs hot--so my oatmeal was done in 6 hours. If I had cooked the oatmeal overnight, it would have been a little dry, and slightly crusty or overdone on the sides.
Hester highly recommends that the first time you use these recipes you should do it when you are home, to see how long the cooking actually takes--and if your slow-cooker runs on the hotter or cooler side.
I REALLY want to get a better slow-cooker, so recommendations are welcome. A programmable one--that could flip to warm after 6 hours, would be perfect.
Note: I'm sure you could prepare this at night and let it soak overnight in a regular saucepan in the refrigerator--and cook it in the morining--on the stove. It's the overnight soak that makes it special.
Nutrition Facts (based on one serving topped with 1/4 cup of mixed berries, and 1/8 of an ounce of walnuts, equivalent to 1/2 tablespoon) (chia seed isn't included in this count)
Healthy Librarian's/Kathy Hester
Save Your Heart Chocolate Oatmeal wt Berries
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
Why You Want to Eat Oats Everyday
The New Science Behind Oats - Avenanthramides
Old news: Oats have a soluble fiber, known as beta-glucan that helps to lower cholesterol by reducing its absorption into the blood stream. They are also low-glycemic, taking a nice leisurely time to digest, so they keep you full longer, and keep your blood sugar steady. All commendable qualities.
New to me news--the Avenanthramides--the heart healthy polyphenol found in oats : Over at the USDA-Agricultural Research Vascular Biology Lab at Tufts University, Dr. Mohsen Meydani is the "oat expert". It turns out that the polyphenols in oats, better known as avenanthramides, are the real power players when it comes to heart health. First off, they prevent LDL from oxidizing, which sets the process of atherosclerosis into motion. They work their magic by "decreasing inflammation in the artery walls, by limiting the growth of artery-stiffening smooth muscle cells inside arteries, and by preventing white blood cells from sticking to artery walls." Harvard Health Letter, May 2010.
But it gets even better. Meydani has recently found that the avenanthramides in oats are not only anti-inflammatory, but they put a stop to the kind of wild cell growth in the artery walls that starts the whole process of atherosclerosis in the first place--which can eventually lead to heart attacks. As if that weren't enough--when you ingest these avenanthramides with your morning oatmeal, you're also preventing atherosclerosis by increasing artery-saving nitric oxide production in the endothelium or lining of your arteries. That's the "magic gas" that keeps the arteries relaxed and dilated. And it's a dose-response--the more avenanthramides, the greater the nitric oxide production. Side benefit: lowered blood pressure. For Meydani's research click here and here.
Curbing colon cancer with avenanthramides, too. We knew that oats and other whole grains helped to reduce colon cancer, but the mechanism wasn't fully understood. Meydani's just-published research in Nutr Cancer 2010 Nov. 62(8):1007-16 found that the avenanthramides in oats tamp down inflammation in the colon, and inhibit the growth of colonic cancer cells.
What's So Good About Cocoa?
The Greek name for cocoa means, "Drink of the Gods". Maybe they were on to something. Epicatechin is the polyphenol in cocoa that does its magic on the cardiovascular system.
- It lowers blood pressure
- It reduces insulin resistance and improves platelet function
- It increases nitric oxide production--that "magic gas" that improves endothelial function, and it has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- In a recent meta-analysis in the journal Circulation, 75 grams of dark chocolate for 3 weeks increased HDLs by 14% and decreased LDL oxidation. Lowering blood pressure took even less cocoa to do the job.
- How does cocoa do all this? It's probably because it increases the availability of nitric oxide, and it also increases arginase--which prevents nitric oxide from breaking down. It's a 2-for-one!
- Cocoa's best benefit? It inhibits the kind of inflammation that creates atherosclerotic plaque.
- This study will give you a good reason to drink cocoa daily. One of the tests for a healthy vasculature is the ability of our blood vessels to dilate. This study looked at the dilation of arteries after drinking a high flavanoid cocoa drink, compared to a low flavonoid drink. There was a significant increase in vasodilation with the high flavonoid drink--and nitric oxide levels increased as the level of flavonoids in the cocoa increased.
- Watch out! Avoid cocoa or dark chocolate that is "Dutch-Processed" or is treated with an alkali to decrease its bitterness--that destroys the flavonoids!
Bring on the Berries, Everyday!
Berries, baby! The research is nothing but good, good, good for berries & the brain. In fact, now we know a little bit more about how they do their magic on the brain. They "activate the brain's natural "housekeeper" mechanism, which cleans up and recycles toxic proteins linked to age-related memory loss and other mental decline." Like mini-brain-maids these cells clear out brain junk. I have berries daily in my Green Smoothies, and either on top of my oatmeal, or mixed in plain soy yogurt. Lower cost organic mixed berries are at BJ's or Costco. Read more here and here.
If You're Going to Eat Nuts, Stick to Walnuts--For So Many Reasons
In a report [presented at the] 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, scientists presented an analysis showing that walnuts have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.
“Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts,” said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don’t eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.”
Walnuts are the top nut for heart-healthy antioxidants
Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits — in addition those antioxidants — wrapped into a convenient and inexpensive package. Nuts, for instance, contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free.
Years of research by scientists around the world link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.
Despite all the previous research, scientists until now had not compared both the amount and quality of antioxidants found in different nuts, Vinson said. He filled that knowledge gap by analyzing antioxidants in nine different types of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans. Walnuts had the highest levels of antioxidants.
Vinson also found that the quality, or potency, of antioxidants present in walnuts was highest among the nuts. Antioxidants in walnuts were 2-15 times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects that protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.
“There’s another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants,” said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.”
Dr. David Katz of the Yale University School of Medicine, published a small randomized-controlled study in 2010, that demonstrated how a walnut-enriched diet improves endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in type 2 diabetic individuals, suggesting a potential reduction in overall cardiac risk.
Source: Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, Dutta S, Doughty K, Treu JA, Katz DL, "Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial," Diabetes Care, 2010 Feb;33(2):227-32. Click here for the full article.
Just Wanted to Say, "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You" to Everyone Who Takes the TIme to Read HHLL!!!
You are no doubt some of the most thoughtful, interesting, intelligent, independent-minded, savvy & healthy group of readers out there!
1. What a surprise for me to see Happy Healthy Long Life on Susan Voisin's (The Fat-Free Vegan's) short-list of helpful sites that will support a plant-based lifestyle. Susan's New Year's post, My Get-Healthy Plan to KISSS in the New Year is outstanding. Be sure to check it out. Susan, I'm so honored to have made your list! Thank You! She is one of the best resources for fat-free recipes around.
2. If you haven't been keeping up with all the thoughtful, articulate, motivating, & inspiring comments to my recent post, please click on this link, and scroll on down to read them: The Sunday New York Times "Fat Trap" & "Why Lost Pounds Come Back"- It Misses the Mark! Forget the Genetic, Hormone, & Metabolic Excuses - Just Give Esselstyn Plant-Perfect a Try! Some very interesting comments.
3. I'm overwhelmed, humbled, & absolutely thrilled to see so many of you visiting the Happy Healthy Long Life - Healthy Librarian Facebook page. All your thumbs up, and generous words are beyond any expectations I had when I created the page. It's so much fun for me to finally meet you--and have a conversation. If you haven't visited, please do--and join in the conversation.
You can find me here:
Follow me on Happy Healthy Long Life - The Healthy Librarian's Facebook Page. Something new everyday--& you don't need a Facebook account to check out what's on the page.
4. Another surprise for me was seeing Happy Healthy Long Life on MD Consult's list of "Blogs We Follow". MD Consult is an excellent and highly respected subscription website for physicians & medical/hospital libraries--so not something most of you are likely to have seen. It's produced by Elsevier, one of the premier medical publishers in the world. I'm honored to be on that list.
5. My last bit of shared news, is one of my favorite comments on the New York Times, in response to Tara Parker Pope's, "Fat Trap" article. It was written by an uber-healthy 84 year-old woman from Toronto:
- Margaret Bennet-Alder
Wouldn't every man worth his salt, and and every woman, want to put Viagra out of business? The wrong food got him into his pickle and the right food can get him out of it.
Forget the Food Pyramid with its animal foods. Use the Food Plate: whole grains, vegetables, beans/legumes, and fruits. How to make the switch?
Neal D. Barnard, MD, in his new book 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart takes you by the hand explaining why animal foods pack on the pounds and plant foods burn calories. Menus and recipes ease you on your way.
Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn's classic, Prevent and Reverse Disease, is the one that inspired former president, Bill Clinton, to lose weight and keep healthy after a stent.
Three years ago after reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, I became a vegan overnight. I began by following Dr. John A. McDougall's plant-based 12-day Meal Plan which is free from his web site. Within a month I lost the 10 pounds that I had tried to lose for 35 years. Upon not using any added oil I have lost another 15 pounds and now weigh what I weighed in high school. I'm never hungry and enjoy healthy carbohydrates. I'm looking forward to Dr. McDougall's forthcoming book, Starch, to be published by Rodale in April, 2012.
The healthylibrarian.com and vegsource.com provide excellent information to keep me on track.
Although heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity have felled relatives, I'm well at 84 thanks to my plate of plants. I look forward to more years of the same.