Stand shadowless like silence Here the Autumn melancholy dwells
And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain
Alone, alone, upon a mossy stone No lonely bird would sing - Thomas Hood
Have I mentioned that there might be a smidge of Irish in me? Well, just in case I'm not alone... If waking up in utter darkness surrounded by the cold, damp and dreary weather is not the high point of your day, I think I've got just the thing to help put the silk back in your slippers. A warming bowl of goodness that is not only delicious and comforting, but also powerfully nutritive. ------------ Here are some highlights: Chia - chia seeds offer plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants and an impressive array of minerals. Unlike flaxseed, chia does not have to be ground to be bioavailable (ie: to be absorbed and usable by the body). Flaxseed has a similar nutrition profile to chia (with slightly less nutrients - fibre, omega-3s, minerals - per serving) but flaxseed has the added benefit of containing lignans - plant compounds believed to be protective of breast health - which chia does not. Chia is more expensive than flaxseed but due to the highly concentrated nature of its nutrients on a gram per gram basis, a small amount of chia goes a long way. Oatmeal - both steel-cut and rolled oats offer a good source of soluble fibre - the kind attributable to helping keep blood cholesterol in check. Whether you are choosing steel-cut oats (chopped into larger sizes) or rolled oats ('old fashioned, quick-cooking oats' that have been rolled or flaked for easier cooking), be sure to choose 100% whole grain. Oats should have at least 3 grams of fibre per serving and ideally zero sugar and zero sodium. Buying the oats unsweetened allows you to decide how much and what type of sweetener you would like to add to your cereal, rather than the manufacturer. This is why I am not a big fan of instant oat cereals (powdered oats) because, even when they are 100% whole grain, these cereal packets almost always have sugar and sodium added to them. Quick cooking oats only take about 5-7 minutes to prepare on the stovetop which represents a minimal time investment for a better return over instant oats. Even better, this entire recipe - including the compote - can be assembled the night before and left in the fridge overnight. Come morning, you simply have to reheat on the stove or in the oven. So simple. Cinnamon - we all know about the delicious flavour that cinnamon imparts on some of our favourite dishes but it's also interesting to note that studies have also shown cinnamon's positive effect on blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. One such study published in Diabetes Care in 2003 revealed that adding as little as 1 gram of cinnamon (less than 1/4 tsp) per day to the diet assisted in reducing blood sugar, triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. Research is ongoing in this promising area. Easy ways of adding cinnamon to your diet include sprinkling it over your cereal or yogurt, adding it to smoothies, soups, stews and baked goods, topping your coffee with it or making your own cinnamon tea. Warming Oatmeal with Apple-Blueberry Compote For the Oatmeal
Allow the apple blueberry mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened but are not completely mush. The mixture will take on a deep, purple hue. Remove pot from heat. Add chia seeds and about 2 heaping Tbsp of the apple-blueberry compote to the cooked oatmeal and stir to combine. Divide oatmeal mixture between two bowls. Add milk, if desired, and another heaping tablespoon or so of the compote in the center of each bowl of oatmeal. Sprinkle with almonds. For a higher protein version, mix in 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt to each bowl.