Originally discovered in the British Isles in the 17th century, oatmeal grew in popularity in the U.S. during the 19th century. Since then, it has become a staple in most home pantries. Oatmeal has many health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, and keeping you full longer. There is also nothing like a hot bowl of oatmeal to comfort you on a cold, winter day. Encourage your group to jump-start the new year the healthy way and celebrate National Oatmeal Month with the activity ideas below.
TOP YOUR OATMEAL – Work with your dining team to offer healthy toppings that your group can mix in with their regular bowl of oatmeal. Consider blueberries, honey, chia seeds, flax seed, wheat germ, pumpkin see,s almond or peanut butter, and dried fruit. These toppings contain essential nutrients and antioxidants for an even bigger health boost than eating oatmeal alone.
OATMEAL COOKIES – National Oatmeal Month wouldn’t be complete without baking oatmeal cookies. Gather your group and bake your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. If you can’t pick just one, bake a new oatmeal cookie recipe each week. Take it to the next level by baking oatmeal creme pies.
NO-BAKE ENERGY BITES – Instead of baking cookies, you can also use oatmeal to make no-bake energy bites. Gather your group and instruct participants as follows: In a large bowl, mix together three cups of quick oats, one cup of peanut butter, half a cup of honey, and half a cup of mini chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit in the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. After it has chilled, scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a small ball. Serve immediately, or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. This makes about 30 balls.
REPURPOSE AN OATMEAL CONTAINER – Start by cleaning out an empty oatmeal container, removing all residue. Provide participants with a variety of patterned fabric, contact paper, or wrapping paper. Instruct participants to select their favorite pattern and then cut this to size, so that they have plenty of material to wrap around the entire container. Secure with hot glue or fabric glue. You can also use patterned contact paper to decorate the containers. Participants can use the repurposed containers to store plastic bags, craft supplies, kitchen utensils, or whatever else they need.
SKIN CARE WITH OATMEAL – With all the constant, diligent hand washing, your members’ hands are probably dry. Treat dry hands with a home-made oatmeal hand mask. Mix together 1/3 cup of cooked oatmeal (cooled) and two tablespoons of yogurt per participant. Instruct participants to apply the mixture to their hands. Let it sit for ten minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. Follow with a moisturizing lotion.
OATMEAL REMINISCING – Reminisce with members about oatmeal. Serve oatmeal cream pies or oatmeal cookies as you reminisce.. Ask questions like these: Was oatmeal a staple in your home? Did you eat it for breakfast? What sort of toppings did you put on your oatmeal as a kid? Did you make oatmeal cookies with your mothers? What does oatmeal remind you of? What about oatmeal cookies? Do you prefer oatmeal cookies with or without raisins? What do you remember about Quaker Oats advertising? Did you ever receive an oatmeal bath to help with itching from chicken pox or poison ivy? How did it feel?
OATMEAL DRUMS – Empty oatmeal containers are great to repurpose into drums. Remove any oat residue from an empty oatmeal container, secure the lid in place with glue, and use contact paper or craft paper to cover the outside. Encourage participants to beat the drum with their hands or palms, or provide wooden spoons to use as drum sticks.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF OATMEAL – Do a quick internet search to learn about the many health benefits of oatmeal. Then, share this information with your group to encourage them to eat more oats. Present the information in a quiz format, to make it more engaging, or invite your dietician to do a presentation.
DEPRESSION-ERA GLASSWARE – Reminisce with your group about the Depression era glassware that often came in oatmeal boxes. Head over to Atlas Obscura to learn more.
OATMEAL BINGO PRIZES – Give oatmeal-themed prizes away during a game of Bingo this month. Prizes could include individual servings of instant oatmeal, Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies, individually wrapped oatmeal cookies, homemade oatmeal soaps, or extra repurposed oatmeal containers.
FEED THE BIRDS – Feed the birds with oatmeal and peanut butter: Gather your group and ask a participant to empty a container of rolled oats into a large bowl. Ask another participant to cut a large piece of yarn. Cut off the bottom of the oatmeal container and then feed the yarn all the way through upper part of the container. Tie the ends of the yarn in a secure knot. Then, ask another participant or two to coat the outside of the oatmeal container with peanut butter. While this is being done, instruct another participant to spread a thin layer of oats on a large tray, such as a cookie sheet. Once the oatmeal container is coated in peanut butter, instruct a participant to roll the entire container gently in oats. Assist by holding the yarn away so that it doesn’t get coated. Immediately hang it outdoors on a tree branch, near a window if possible.
JUMP-START THE NEW YEAR WITH OATMEAL TRIVIA
- Which company was the first U.S. breakfast cereal to receive a registered trademark, the first to offer a recipe and a premium on its package, and the first to offer trial-size samples? Quaker Oats
- Approximately what percentage of American households have oatmeal in their pantries: 50%, 70%, or 80%? 80%
- What is the second most popular non-cereal use of oats? (Hint: It’s a sweet treat) Oatmeal cookies
- Name the three most popular oatmeal toppings. Milk, sugar, and fruit
- Which population group consumes the most oatmeal, averaging to about 79 bowls per year: children, middle-aged adults, or older adults? Older adults
- Name one health benefit of consuming oatmeal. Lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of cancer, lowers risk for heart attack and stroke
- What is the name of the smiling Quaker mascot found on the Quaker Oats container: William, Larry, or George? Larry
- Oatmeal contains which plant-based nutrient that can help you stay full longer? Fiber
- Which U.S. state is the largest producer of oats: Iowa, South Dakota, or Wisconsin? South Dakota
- What are the major types of oats? Steel-cut oats, instant oatmeal, and old-fashioned or rolled oats
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“It’s not the horse that draw the cart, but the oats.” ~ Assyrian Proverb
“Jump-Start the New Year with Oatmeal” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2020 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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