Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Problem with Oatmeal

It has recently been brought to my attention that oatmeal is prepared poorly across most of the American culinary landscape. This subject was raised by Mark Bittman over at the NY Times in regards to McDonald's newest breakfast creation: McOatmeal. Or perhaps just oatmeal. You can never really tell with McDonald's.

Basically, like everything McDonald's touches, they've taken something that could conceivably have some significant nutritional value and stripped it entirely of anything close. Truly, Bittman argues;

A more accurate description than “100% natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

But it wasn't Bittman's attack on Mickey-D's that had me upset. In fact, I find it rather pointless to attack McDonald's for making a sugar-infused pile of crap since that's what they sell, and everyone knows it. McDonald's sells a particular product to a particular demographic, and they know that demographic very well. That demographic does not want health. They want crap. More power to 'em.

No, what had me upset was his attack on Quaker instant oatmeal. Maybe it's because I've been fed this stuff since I was an itty-bitty childer. Maybe it's because Quaker's marketing is so good. For whatever reason, I've never looked at the nutrition information.

I was a little relieved to find that the nutrition isn't nearly as bad the article made it out to seem. Yes, the Cinnamon Roll oatmeal has 9g of sugar compared to raw oats 1g, but that's about it. Instead, I have left this informational expedition more confused than I went in. Raw oats are 150cal per half-cup. Instant Cinnamon Roll is 160, with many other flavors at an identical 150. There's less fat in the instant oatmeal, not more. But there's also less protein and fiber.

My biggest takeaway, and I think the biggest thing that anyone should take, from this is a new desire to make fresh oatmeal. Buy raw oats, milk fruit, and whatever the hell else you want to put in it. It won't necessarily be cheaper, but it will be better and better for you.

No comments: