People can be highly suggestible, and children are no exception. When I’m working with kids doing children’s theatre, there is one magic word that can transform a child from uncertain to at ease. That word is “easy.” When I bring students on stage, if I start rattling off things that they’ll have to do and lines they’ll have to say, they become wide eyed and overwhelmed. Tell them the same to-do list but start with, “You have three easy things you’re going to do,” and they take it in stride. For all of us, if we are told something is easy, we believe it. If we’re told it’s difficult, we believe that too.
I think that’s part of why the weight loss industry is so successful. Back in my early days in Los Angeles, one of my first TV gigs was doing B-roll for a health and wellness infomercial. I was one of the inept “before” exercisers. I did sit-ups and feigned a neck pain. I did step aerobics and pretended to twist my ankle while walking up and down a five-inch step. I pored over nutrition bars in the aisle of a market and was overwhelmed by all of the product information. My exasperated look was supposed to convey, “It’s just too hard!”
Really, it’s all just a sales job. The weight loss industry is selling that it’s hard, so that we’ll all believe we need them to make it easy, whether it’s with diet pills, surgeries, exercise gadgets, or kitchen tools. Truth be told, we don’t need them. Walking, bike riding, lifting free weights, eating fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains may not have snazzy packaging or celebrity spokespeople, but they’re accessible for most of us.
Take steel cut oats for example. While many of us have heard how arduous and tedious the process is for cooking steel cut oats, the amount of attention they need is minimal. Sure, instant oatmeal is faster, but it also can be loaded with preservatives, sugar, and flavorings and lacking in fiber and nutrients. Steel cut oats, on the other hand, are nutritional powerhouses. At first glance, thirty minutes of cooking may seem like a large time investment for breakfast, but it takes very little involvement. I dare say, it’s easy.
First thing in the morning, I start the water boiling while I make coffee or tea. Then it’s time to add in the steel cut oats to the boiling water. I lower the heat and check on it occasionally to stir it while unloading the dishwasher and checking morning email. By that time, I can add in fruit, give it a stir, and it’s ready to go.
My favorite brand is Country Choice Organic Irish Style Steel Cut Oats. Just one serving of oats offers 10% of my daily iron needs, 4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein (and that’s not including the fruit and nut butter I add later). Oats are also a great source of magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and thiamine. The consumption of oats has been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and has been shown to lower cholesterol, especially LDL’s. They also stick to the ribs, which is perfect for those days when I’m performing multiple shows. It’s really empowering that with simple, everyday choices we can help ourselves to healthier bodies and healthier lives. And that’s without making three easy payments of $19.95.
Steel Cut Oats with Blueberries and Creamy Banana
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup steel cut oats
- A heaping teaspoonful of peanut butter
- 1 banana, sliced
- A handful of blueberries, fresh or frozen
- A dash of cinnamon
Heat the water to boil. Add the oats and set the heat to low. Stir occasionally until most of the water has been absorbed (about 28 minutes). Add in peanut butter, blueberries, and banana. Stir and heat through (about 2 minutes) until some of the blueberries begin to pop and the warm banana has made the oatmeal creamy. Add a dash of cinnamon, combine, and serve. This is also delicious with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed stirred in just before serving for a hit of Omega 3’s.