Ooooooats and Peanut Butter


As much pleasure as I've derived from the food feature stories I've had the chance to write up to this point, and as hard as I've worked on them (gaining invaluable but nevertheless rather painfully stinging lessons courtesy of the much deserved, prominent red slash marks in the editing and revision process), my biggest "claim to fame" in the world of food thus far has got to be getting to be the focus story in Cooking Light's reader recipe section in June 2008. After that story's publication, I received e-mails from so many people whose radar I would have surely slipped under forever, whether it was my intention or not, including school district administrators, friends of friends, former teachers, and mothers of friends and former teachers! I also got to be featured in our local paper, The Longmont Times-Call, for recipe development. A reporter came out, and feeling shy and uncertain as to what exactly I had to say that could be of any use, I baked her some muffins.  I also shared a few recipes, including my Cooking Light contribution and two types of lowfat muffins. This week, I learned that one of the recipes, a pb&j oat muffin, will be included in a cookbook the newspaper is putting out in the spring. This got me thinking about the recipe itself, which I haven't actually made in awhile, and also the incredible combo oats and peanut butter (natural, just the nuts, and not too much!) make. I love them both, separately, and tend to throw each in to all sorts of dishes, but together they can feel downright decadent even in the simplest things,  like said muffins,  peanut butter oatmeal energy bars, and peanut butter oatmeal (see recipes below). Here's a quick look at a few of the merits of each:

Oats are my favorite energy food, without question. I love them soft and steamy, especially when they've been steeped in a skim-milk  (or almond, or soy) water mix on the stove, and swirled with dried raisins and cranberries and topped with bananas. I love their fibrous texture in breads, toasted or baked granola, cold cereal like muesli, and even as crust for meat. A super source of manganese, B vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients, I think oats deserve every bit of garnered praise for their cholesterol-lowering, health promoting properties and would gladly eat oatmeal for dinner many days.

Peanut butter (OK, I'm really just talking about peanuts ground-up, since that's the kind I eat and a lot easier to love nutritionally) is one of those things that tastes all the better for having been a temptation I used to refuse. I also think it's kind of cool that peanuts are actually legumes, like chick peas and lentils. Also, a little peanut butter goes a long way, adding flavorful kick to sauces, curries, baked goods and smoothies. Plus, they're full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and a good source of protein and other nutrients.

Here are a few of my faves:

For an easy peanut butter oatmeal, just add 1/2 cup hot water and 1/2 cup skim or soy milk to 1/2 cup steel cut oats (or whole oats), bring to bubbling, then reduce heat and simmer on low, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. They're ready in less, but taste better with more time. In the last few minutes, stir in up to 1 tablespoon peanut butter, stir to blend in, and cover for a final minute or so.

PB&J Oat Muffins

Makes 12

1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup whole oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup brown sugar or honey (or ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup honey OR ¼ cup honey or sugar on its own)

½ cup natural or natural reduced fat peanut butter

1 egg

¾ cup skim milk

1 tablespoon light olive oil

¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt

12 spoonfuls all fruit or sugar free jam

1. Preheat oven to 350◦.

2. Combine sugar (or honey), peanut butter, egg, olive oil, yogurt and milk and set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, and baking powder. Make a well in the center, and add peanut butter mixture. Stir until blended.

4. Pour batter in muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Fill cups halfway, then add a spoonful of jam. Cover with remaining batter. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes.

nutrition info per serving: 181 calories; 4.5 g fat; .8 g saturated fat; 16 mg cholesterol; 5.8 g protein; 30.9 g carbohydrates; 2.2 g fiber; 123.2 mg sodium


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars I made these while writing a piece on energy boosting foods for Natural Solutions. This recipe wasn't one of those included,  but my (awesome) editor loved them. : )

Makes 20 bars

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup natural peanut butter

2 cups whole oats

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup white flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup milk

½ cup chocolate mini chips (optional) 1. Cream together butter and sugar in a bowl. Add egg, vanilla and honey and combine. Stir in peanut butter.

2. In another bowl, combine flours and baking soda. Mix in peanut butter blend, adding ¼ cup milk to moisten.

3. Spread batter into a 9X13 baking pan coated with cooking spray. If desired, sprinkle with mini chips. Bake at 350◦ for 20 minutes. nutrition info per serving (does not include chocolate chips): 211.8 calories; 8.1 g fat; 3.5 g saturated fat; 23 mg cholesterol; 5.2 g protein; 30.5 g carbohydrates; 2.6 g fiber; 86.2 mg sodium