January is National Oatmeal Month! An old friend of mine used to tell me that they ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast in his family because that is all their family could afford! He lived to be in his 90s and didn’t have high cholesterol or any heart problems. I’m thinking that perhaps oatmeal is what gave him such good health in his old age. I have a friend in her 90s that is in a nursing home. If the food on the menu doesn’t sound good to her for a given meal or she just isn’t very hungry, she asks for oatmeal with special goodies in it like dates, walnuts and a few other good things. Perhaps that has helped her reach her healthy 90s! Oatmeal is a grain used for cereal, bread, cookies, cakes, and even in meatloaf and meatballs. I’ve read that some people even make a mask of oatmeal to put on their face. (I’ve never tried that however!!!) In doing a little research for this article, I read that oatmeal is also used in livestock feed. I did not know this. I knew oats from the field were fed to horses but I didn’t realize oatmeal was also fed to other animals. Eating oatmeal can increase an appetite-control hormone making us less hungry for the next meal. Something in oats improve the immune system defenses. Oats can help cut the use of laxatives. Oats might help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Oats may improve insulin sensitivity. Oats lower bad cholesterol. Oats help control blood pressure. Of course putting oatmeal in cookies or cake might not work for these wonderful healthy reasons to eat oatmeal! There are several types of oatmeal. Rolled oats are oats that have been steamed and flattened, and they generally cook in 15 minutes or less. They are good for baking, but instant oats aren’t. Instant oats are rolled oats that are precooked and dried, so they cook almost instantly and are too soft and gooey for baking. Steel-cut oats are not rolled. Instead, the grains are cut into a couple of pieces and left whole. This chewy-textured version of oatmeal takes 30 minutes or more to cook. In a 1755 dictionary titled “The New Food Lover’s Companion,” it specified that oats were only a grain for horses in England, but were served to people in Scotland. The oats that horses eat don’t go through the same process as the ones humans do - - for humans, oats are cleaned, toasted, hulled, and more before being cooked and eaten. Oats go way beyond the breakfast bowl. In the following recipes you will find them in meatloaf and/or meatballs, a coating for chicken and fish, and in many cookies and cakes. Oatmeal can be a partial flour replacement when baking. Quick or old fashioned oats can be substituted for up to one-third of the flour called for in recipes for muffins, biscuits, pancakes, loaf-type quick breads, coffee cakes, yeast breads, cookies and bars.Peanut Butter and JellyGranola Bars These high-energy healthy breakfast or snack bars are great to tuck away in a lunch box or keep handy as an after school snack.2 cups uncooked oatmeal (not instant)1/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)1/2 cup all-fruit grape jelly (or your favorite sugar-free preserves) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Spread in lightly greased 8-inch square pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.Oatmeal Baked Chicken1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats1 tablespoon paprika1 tablespoon chili powder1 teaspoon salt, optional3/4 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon ground cumin1/4 teaspoon pepper1 broiler/fryer chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds), cut up1/2 cup milk2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted Coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a shallow bowl or large resealable plastic bag, combine oats, paprika, chili powder, salt if desired, garlic powder, cumin and pepper. Dip chicken in milk, then coat with oat mixture. Place in prepared baking dish. Drizzle with butter. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until juices run clear. Yield: 4 servings. Oatmeal Custard Makes 4 servings.2-3/4 cups water1 cup raw rolled oats1/2 cup egg substitute, thawed1/4 cup sugar1-1/3 cups skim milk1/2 teaspoon vanilla1/8 teaspoon salt1/3 cup dried fruit (your choice)1/2 teaspoon cinnamonvegetable cooking spray Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water in covered saucepan. Stir in oats. Return to a boil, reduce heat and continue to boil. Cook uncovered for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Cover and set aside. In a large bowl, mix next five ingredients. Add cooked oatmeal, dried fruit and cinnamon to egg mixture and mix well. Pour into an 8-inch square pan, coated with vegetable oil spray. Place in a larger pan of hot water. Bake for 1 hour or until set. Serve warm or chilled. Serving suggestion: Top each serving with 1/2 cup sweetened fresh fruit, such as strawberry or peach slices.Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal1 cup water1/4 cup apple juice1 apple, cored and chopped2/3 cup rolled oats1 teaspoon cinnamon1 cup milk Combine first 3 ingredients in saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat; stir in rolled oats and cinnamon. Return to boil; then reduce heat to low; simmer until thick, about 3 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls; pour milk over servings.BBQ Meatballs3 pounds (93 percent lean) hamburger1/2 cup finely-chopped onion2 teaspoons salt2 teaspoons chili powder1 cup soda crackers, crushed1-1/2 cups milk1 teaspoon garlic powder1 cup oatmeal2 large eggs, beaten1/2 teaspoon pepper Mix well and shape into small balls. Lay in pan for baking.Sauce:1 cup brown sugar2 cups ketchup1/4 cup finely-chopped onion1 teaspoon liquid smoke Mix and pour over meatballs. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until done.Grandmother’s Oatmeal Cookies These are old fashioned and lasted in a big jar with a tight lid when there were no freezers to store cookies in. The longer they were stored, it seemed they got even better. This is a huge recipe, but I suppose back in the “olden” days they didn’t light a wood stove for a small job!!7 cups flour8 cups old-fashioned oatmeal3-1/2 cups sugar2 cups shortening2 cups molasses2 tablespoons soda2 tablespoons ginger1-1/2 cups boiling water Mix first 5 ingredients together. Pour the boiling water over the soda and ginger and stir into the other mixture. Keep dough as stiff as possible. You may either roll out or form in small balls. (I remember my aunt said grandma rolled hers out. Bake in a moderate oven. Store in a dry, cool place and they will keep a long time.Old-FashionedOatmeal-Raisin Cookies1-1/4 cups sugar1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened1/3 cup molasses2 eggs2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon soda1 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt1 cup raisins Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together first four ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients except raisins until well blended. Stir in raisins. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or just until set. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheets.Paula Deen’sOatmeal-Blueberry Muffins1/2 cup butter, softened2/3 cup sugar2 large eggs1 teaspoon vanilla1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon soda1/2 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt3/4 cup whole milk1 cup fresh blueberries Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line about 15 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla. In medium bowl, combine next six ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Do not over mix. Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake 9 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans; serve warm.Old-FashionedStrawberry-Rhubarb CrispFilling:2 pounds rhubarb stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick (3-1/2 to 4 cups = 1 pound)1-1/4 cups sugar1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered3 tablespoons cornstarch2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1 teaspoon pure vanilla Filling directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to the strawberries. Discard any rhubarb juice. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla to the fruit; stir well. Transfer the mixture to a 9x13 inch glass baking dish.Topping:1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened1-1/2 cups light brown sugar1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour1-1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats3 tablespoons canola oil1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon3/4 teaspoon salt Topping Directions: Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using pastry blender or your fingers, mix the ingredients together until large crumbs form. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for about 30 minutes longer, until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. Let the crisp rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.Mom’s Oatmeal Cake Dad’s favorite so mom usually always made this for dad’s birthday.Mix the following:1-1/2 cups boiling water1 cup oatmeal Cool above.Cream:1 cup brown sugar1 cup white sugar1/2 cup butterAdd:2 eggs1-1/2 cups flour1 teaspoon soda1/2 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon cinnamon Add cooled oatmeal. Place in a 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake in a 325 to 350 degree oven. Frost with the following frosting.Frosting for Oatmeal Cake1/2 cup butter1/4 cup half and half1/2 cup brown sugar1/2 cup nuts1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup coconut Spread on baked cake and broil until bubbly. This soaks into the cake and makes it very moist. This is a deliciously moist cake.Chocolate Bumps This was another of my Mom’s favorite easy to make cookies. Now days I see it called Chocolate No-Bake Cookies.Mix and set aside:3 cups oatmeal1/2 cup coconut1/2 cup nuts1 teaspoon vanilla Bring to a boil and remove immediately:1/2 cup shortening2 cups sugar1/2 cup cocoa1/2 cup milk Mix liquid with dry ingredients and drop by teaspoon on waxed paper. When cool, store in an airtight container. If you are reading this, then you probably enjoy new recipes. If you would like to share some of your recipes with the community, YOU could be Cook of the Week. Please contact me, Sally Redenius, if you would like to be in this column some week. I can be reached by phone at 515-373-6346 or email me at I will be happy to email or send you my short questionnaire and set up a time to come and visit you at your convenience. I’m always looking for NEW Cooks of the Week. Also, if you are new in town, this is a good way to introduce yourself to the Humboldt community and surrounding communities. I look forward to visiting with you. The COOK OF THE WEEK 3rd Edition Cookbook is available. Cost per copy is $10.70, plus $4.80 shipping/handling. Order a copy today by sending a check or money order, along with name and shipping address, to: Humboldt Independent, 512 Sumner Ave., Humboldt, IA 50548.

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