It's only been one day, but optimistic me is considering this to be a life-changing moment -- switching my breakfast cereal from microwaved quick oats to stovetop boiled regular oats.
Sure, I've meditated every morning since I was 20, and for most of those 49 years I figured that one day meditation would reveal, if not the Secret of the Universe, at least some mini-secrets of how my own mind works.
But with age comes a bit of realism. I've now lowered my sights on how deeply I'm going to be able to penetrate the mysteries that surround us. So if switching to regular oats from quick oats brings me more life satisfaction, I'll take it!
It all started yesterday, when I was doing our weekly grocery shopping at LifeSource Natural Foods here in Salem, Oregon. I had "oats" on the list, and was about ready to scoop quick oats out of the bulk bin when I took some time to peruse the other oats offerings.
This is Deep Thought #1: take some time.
The Daily Calm guided meditation by Tamara Levitt I listen to on my iPhone speaks frequently about attending not only to the pause between our in-breath and out-breath, but also to the gaps between our thoughts. That, Levitt says, often can be the empty space where inspiration has an opportunity to blossom.
I do tend to operate on autopilot. At my age, 69, I've tried enough different things to be pretty confident in what I like and dislike.
Having tried many different kinds of breakfast cereals, and pondering the pros and cons of each, for quite a few years I've settled on quick oats for my Monday-Saturday fare. (Sunday is pancake day, as the God atheist me no longer believes in clearly intended it to be.)
Put 1/2 cup of quick oats in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup of water. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Top with Agave and fruit. Bingo! Breakfast. Fast and easy.
I knew there were oat alternatives. I just hadn't paid much attention to them, since quick oats seemed, well, so quick. Yesterday, though, I paused to examine the neighboring oat bins.
There was steel cut oats. Didn't know what that was, so I moved on. There was heavy duty oats (forgotten actual name). It seemed like too great a jump from quick oats, and the bin didn't have cooking instructions, so I moved on from it also. Then, like Goldilocks, I focused on what struck me as a Middle Way between quick oats and those heavy duty oats.
This led to Deep Thought #2 (corollary to #1): slow down.
I liked that the Rolled Oats bin had cooking instructions. I also liked that the one-serving instruction used the same amount of oats, 1/2 cup, as the quick oats I'd been having each morning. The hurdle I had to cross was the "boil water; stir in oats; cook 5 minutes; stir occasionally."
Yikes! My first thought was, "This is going to take a lot longer than quick oats." Which, though, was followed by a second thought, "But not that much longer."
So I decided to squash the fear that my (not so busy) retired life would be consumed by boiling and stirring, and scooped some Rolled Oats (Thick) into a bag.
This morning I semi-excitedly got out a small pan and did the Rolled Oats (Thick) cooking deed. I did take a peek at the bag of quick oats behind a kitchen cupboard door to see if any You don't love me anymore! oat tears were obvious. Seeing none, I proceeded with the boiling and stirring.
I don't like to cook very much. So this was a pretty big deal for me, given how many years I've put quick oats and water into a bowl, pressed start on the microwave, and waited a mere 90 seconds for cooked oats.
However, I found myself feeling like Chef Brian, since the instructions on the bin didn't cover all of the preparation steps. Notably, should I remove the pan from the burner after five minutes on medium heat had passed, or should I turn the burner off and leave the pan where it was, since it seemed like there was some excess water that needed to be absorbed.
Pleasingly, turning the burner off and leaving the pan on produced a perfect oatmeal consistency. And the five minute cooking time passed pleasantly. I read the Statesman Journal (print) newspaper while occasionally stirring the oats, per the instructions.
Tasting my culinary masterpiece leads me to my final Deep Thought #3: substance is worth the wait.
These oats tasted considerably more substantial than the quick oats. More oat'y, a good thing when you're eating oatmeal. My stomach smiled more than usual, and I don't think this was merely because I was expecting a different oat experience. Makes sense: thicker oats that require more cooking will taste better.
Likewise, I enjoy reading lengthy The New Yorker articles. And lengthy books. Yes, I also enjoy brief Twitter tweets and Facebook posts. There's just more substance to writing that takes quite a while to digest.
And even though it took me a few minutes to find an article that showed more health benefits for rolled oats compared to quick oats (not surprisingly, Quaker Oats considers all kinds of oats to be equal), a Huffington Post piece, "The Difference Between Steel-Cut, Rolled and Quick Oats," says that rolled and steel-cut oats are a bit better than quick oats.
Steel-cut and rolled oats have more fibre -- due to the minimal processing, most of the fibre has been retained in steel and rolled oats. This means they will keep you feeling fuller for longer, which can assist with weight management. Quick/instant oats have been further processed, which means they have a slightly reduced fibre content.
Steel-cut and rolled oats have a lower GI -- this means they have a slower release of sugar (from carbohydrates) into your blood. This gives you a slow release of energy throughout the morning and keeps you fuller for longer. As opposed to more processed oats, which can provide a quicker burst of energy.
Since steel-cut oats take about 30 minutes to cook, I feel like I've hit the sweet spot with my new oat love, rolled oats. Time will tell if my life changes for the better as much as my first day experiment with rolled oats suggests.