Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Nearly Perfect One Dollar Meal

Up until recently (because of funding cutbacks) Soldiers had to undergo a full physical exam every five years.  There was a change in the exam once you turned forty; to check age related issues.  You also had to have a pre-deployment and post-deployment exam.  For most of my adult life I have had a total cholesterol level of 200 +/-.  This is the upper end of the safe area or lower end of the "keep an eye on it" area, whichever way you want to look at it.  Since I have a resting heart rate of 45-50 and a Blood Pressure of 105/70 the medicos were never too concerned about my cholesterol level.  But during my predeployment physical in 2007 my primary care provider suggested that when I returned from Iraq I should go on a program to lower my cholesterol.  I already eat pretty healthy so other than being put on meds, which I didn't want to do, I wasn't sure what would help.  So I did a little research and came up with the following meal.

Once a day, every day, I ate a half cup of uncooked oatmeal mixed with six ounces of non-fat yogurt, a half cup of fruit, and a quarter cup of unsalted mixed nuts (or just walnuts if possible).  With this I drank a sugar-free energy drink (Rip-It Citrus X) if it was breakfast or tea if it was lunch or supper.  It is a surprisingly filling meal and gave me a long lasting feeling of fullness.  I did this for the duration of the deployment and when I had my post-deployment physical my cholesterol level was down to 165.  My doctor was pretty surprised.

I came to really enjoy this meal and I still eat this for breakfast or lunch a couple times a week.  This is a one dollar meal plus or minus a few cents depending on the store you shop at.  What does it give you?

1/2 Cup (Quaker Oats) Oatmeal: 5 gms Protein, 3 gms Fat, 150 Calories, 4 gms Dietary Fiber.
6 oz Non-fat Yogurt (Yoplait Light): 5 gms Protein, 0 gms Fat, 100 Calories plus Vit A & D, Calcium, Phosphorus.
1 oz Walnuts: 4 gms Protein, 16 gms "Good" Fat, 180 Calories, Plus Copper and Manganese.
1/2 Cup Fruit: This will depend on your fruit choice but generally this part is low in Protein, has little to no Fat, and Calories will be about 35-40.  Fruit is high in some vitamines and dietary fiber.

So altogether you are getting about 14 grams of Protein, 19 grams of healthy Fats, about 465 Calories, a good dose of Dietary Fiber (really, REALLY important when you are deployed or in the field!), and a very good amount of several vitamins and minerals.  This is a meal that will start your day right or fully satisfy you at lunch.  It is sweet, has great texture, and is very simple to put together.

Oatmeal, certain nuts, and non-fat yogurt have all been found to be heart healthy and good to eat for weight loss or maintenance.

In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this package label "qualified" health claim for nuts:

“Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

According to FDA, "Types of nuts eligible for this claim are restricted to almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts. Types of nuts on which the health claim may be placed is restricted to those nuts that were specifically included in the health claim petition, but that do not exceed 4 g saturated fat per 50 g of nuts."

Walnuts. One ounce of walnuts (about 14 shelled walnut halves) is all that is needed to meet the 2002 dietary recommendation of the Food Nutrition Board of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine for omega-3 fatty acids.

You would be hard-pressed to come up with a cheaper meal that provides so much of your nutritional needs.  I would still add a multi-vitamin to this meal to fully round out the vitamin/mineral content.

Give it a try and tell me what you think.

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