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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2007
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MEATBALL VEGGIE KABOBS
Courtesy photos
MEATBALL VEGGIE KABOBS

Rolling in
the OATS

It's Oatmeal Month, so use the
wholesome grain in a new way
for main dishes, sides or desserts

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

When you think of oatmeal, you probably think of that bowl of hot, mushy cereal that makes a good breakfast on a cold winter day.

That's a healthy start, but oats are a good-for-you whole grain that can be added to your diet in main dishes, sides, desserts and snacks, too, along with popular oatmeal cookies.

Oatmeal is growing in popularity as people look for more ways to add whole grains to their diets. New U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend getting three servings of whole grains every day, and that is easier to do when you add grains to meatloaf, snack bars and cakes.

You can use old-fashioned oats, quick oats, steel-cut oats or instant oatmeal; all are whole-grain oat products, and the only difference is that how the grain is cut, steamed and rolled affects cooking time and texture.

One-half cup of oatmeal equals one serving of whole grains. Remember that oats can be substituted for up to one-third of the flour in recipes for cupcakes, cakes, cookies, bars, muffins and breads. Quaker Oats kitchen testers say the quick and the old-fashioned 5-minute oats are interchangeable in baking.

Oats include natural antioxidants and both soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as a lot of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and protein. The fiber helps keep you full, which helps those trying to lose weight.

Because January is typically a cold month, making hot oatmeal a favorite for breakfast, as well as a time when many start weight-loss plans, the Quaker Oats Co. says it sells more oats this month than any other. The 130-year-old company celebrates that by declaring January “Oatmeal Month” and giving topping and recipe suggestions.

You can add a touch of Hawaii to your morning with Pineapple Macadamia Oatmeal, which includes ginger, pineapple and nuts, or add oats to your pancakes. No time for that? Whole Grain Banana Fruit ’n’ Nut Bars can be made ahead for use as morning breakfast bars or snack bars later in the day.

Use oats in your Meatball Veggie Kabobs to make a creative dinner that includes squash and bell peppers. Remember this rule: add 3/4 cup of rolled oats per pound of ground beef or ground turkey in place of bread or cracker crumbs when you make burgers, meatloaves or meatballs.

To satisfy your sweet tooth without a lot of calories, use oats in desserts such as Hidden Berry Cupcakes and Snow Cakes.

Meanwhile, here are some recipes to try:

Pineapple Macadamia Oatmeal

PINEAPPLE MACADAMIA OATMEAL
PINEAPPLE MACADAMIA OATMEAL

1 20-ounce can pineapple tidbits in 100-percent juice Water

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)

2 6-ounce containers vanilla fat-

free yogurt (see note)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts or almonds

Note: If using artificially sweetened yogurt, reduce brown sugar to 1/4 cup.

Drain pineapple tidbits, reserving juice. Set fruit aside. Add enough water to juice to equal 31/4 cups.

In medium saucepan, bring combined juice and water and salt to a boil. Stir in oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium.

Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old-fashioned oats or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved pineapple. Let stand, covered, until desired consistency.

Spoon yogurt into small bowl. Add ginger; mix well.

Spoon oatmeal into 5 cereal bowls.

Top each serving with brown sugar, nuts and yogurt, dividing evenly.

Microwave directions:

In a 3-quart microwaveable bowl, combine pineapple juice and enough water to equal 31/4 cups, oats and salt. Microwave on high 3 to 6 minutes for quick oats and 8 to 10 minutes for old-fashioned oats or until most of liquid is absorbed. Stir in reserved pineapple. Let stand, covered, until desired consistency. Spoon oatmeal into 5 cereal bowls. Top each serving with brown sugar, nuts and yogurt, dividing evenly.

Makes five 1-cup servings. When made with fat-free yogurt sweetened with sugar, each serving has 340 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0 Trans fat, 0 cholesterol, 130mg sodium, 65g total carbohydrates, 40g sugars, 5g dietary fiber, 8g protein.

Meatball Veggie Kabobs

1 each green and red bell peppers

1 yellow squash

1/4 cup reduced-fat vinaigrette-style Caesar salad dressing, divided

1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef

1 egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)

1/4 cup fat-free milk

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in water. Remove stems and seeds from bell peppers and cut into 11/4-inch pieces. Cut squash lengthwise and then into 11/4-inch pieces. In medium bowl, toss vegetable pieces with 2 tablespoons dressing; set aside.

In large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, oats, milk, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape mixture into 20 meatballs, about 11/2 inches in diameter. Alternately thread meatballs and vegetables onto eight 12-inch bamboo or metal skewers. Arrange kabobs on broiler pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle with any dressing remaining in medium bowl.

Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, until meatballs are cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, turning once and brushing with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing.

Serve kabobs sprinkled with cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings, each with 410 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 165mg cholesterol, 1,080mg sodium, 26g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 36g protein.

Oaty Pear ’n’ Pecan Pancakes

OATY PEAR 'N' PECAN PANCAKES
OATY PEAR ’N’ PECAN PANCAKES
1 cup Aunt Jemima original pancake & waffle mix

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium firm-ripe pear, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)

3/4 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

2 tablespoons chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 to 3/4 cup Aunt Jemima Lite syrup, warmed

Pear slices, if desired

Toasted chopped pecans, if desired

In large bowl, stir together pancake mix and cinnamon. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg and oil until blended. Add to pancake mix, stirring with wire whisk just until combined. Gently stir in pears, oats and pecans. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes to thicken.

Cook pancakes on hot griddle according to package directions. Serve with maple syrup and, if desired, pear slices and additional pecans. Makes 4 to 6 servings (12 pancakes). A serving of 3 pancakes has 360 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 60mg cholesterol, 690mg sodium, 58g total carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 10g protein.

Tip: To toast pecan halves, bake on baking sheet in preheated 350-degree oven until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Or, spread in single layer on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high 1 to 11/2 minutes. Cool and chop.

Hidden Berry Cupcakes

HIDDEN BERRY CUPCAKES
HIDDEN BERRY CUPCAKES
13/4 cups all-purpose flour

11/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup (5-1/3 tablespoons) butter, softened

3 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

1/2 cup seedless strawberry or raspberry fruit spread Confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 medium muffin cups with paper or foil baking cups; set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter and beat with electric mixer on low speed until crumbly, about 1 minute. In medium bowl, combine eggs, milk and vanilla; add to flour-butter mixture. Beat on low speed until incorporated, then on medium speed 2 minutes. Gently fold in oats. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Using small sharp knife, cut out a cone-shaped piece from the center of each cupcake, leaving a 3/4-inch border around edge of cupcake. Carefully remove and reserve cake pieces. Fill each depression with a generous teaspoon of fruit spread. Top with reserved cake pieces; sift confectioners’ sugar over tops of cupcakes.

Makes 16 cupcakes, each with 210 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 37g total carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 4g protein.

Snow Cakes

1 BOX (18.25 OUNCES) WHITE CAKE MIX WITHOUT PUDDING

4 egg whites

1 cup (8 ounces) vanilla low-fat yogurt (see note)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

1 quart premium vanilla ice cream (see note)

Note: Yogurt containing gelatin and light/reduced fat ice cream are not recommended.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 medium muffin cups with paper or foil baking cups; set aside.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, egg whites, yogurt, water and oil with electric mixer according to package directions. Gently fold in oats. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften just enough so it can be mixed. Transfer to chilled bowl; stir just until ice cream is spreadable but still holds its shape. Working quickly, “frost” each cupcake with softened ice cream. Place frosted cupcakes on tray and return to freezer to firm up slightly, no more than 30 minutes.

Makes 24 cupcakes, each with 190 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 26g total carbohydrates, less than 1g dietary fiber, 3g protein.

Whole Grain Banana Fruit ’n’ Nut Bars

WHOLE GRAIN BANANA FRUIT 'N' NUT BARS
WHOLE GRAIN BANANA FRUIT ’N’ NUT BARS
11/4 cups whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

11/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 small)

11/2 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)

2/3 cup chopped pitted dates or golden raisins

2/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray.

Stir together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; mix well. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat light butter and brown sugar with electric mixer until well blended. Add egg and bananas; mix well. (Mixture will look curdled.) Add flour mixture; beat on low just until well blended. Stir in oats, dates and walnuts. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered at room temperature up to 2 days, or place in airtight container and freeze up to 3 months. Defrost uncovered at room temperature.

Makes 24 bars, each with 130 calories, 45 calories from fat, 4.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0 Trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 90mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrates, 11g sugars, 2g dietary fiber, 3g protein.

Tips: To save time, purchase walnuts and dates already chopped. Other dried fruits may be substituted for dates. Toasted pecans, almonds or hazelnuts may be substituted for walnuts.

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