Follow-Up Fest on Oatmeal: Bet You Thought No One Could Use Fest and Oatmeal in the Same Sentence!

Like the good, tough fiber that it is, oatmeal served with a dollop of writing Just. Keeps. Coming.

Mark Bittman has a couple of follow-up notes on his bad review of McDonald’s oatmeal. (http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/further-reading-on-alternatives-to-mcdonalds-oatmeal/?ref=markbittman)

In one he gives several more sources for grand doings with this whole grain food, and he lights the sources in blue so a reader can hit on it and find the recipes.

So I hit and learned about…

Steel cut oats from the Diner’s Journal http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/oatmeal/; Cardamom-Scented Oatmeal Pancakes with Apricots http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/dining/19minirex3.html; Home-made granola http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C03E6DF1230F933A25752.

He also gives a mention to James Beard, Martha Stewart,and a list for where to find the best oatmeal in NYC!

This man knows his business.

However, it was with some trepidation that I digested Mr. Bittman’s Three Other Thoughts on oatmeal in a second follow-up column. You can find it at: http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/three-follow-up-thoughts-and-one-recipe/?ref=markbittman)

As is the nature of blogs, the negative review of McDonald’s Oatmeal Cup brought some think-agains via the comment section. And, so, in this follow up, Mr. Bittman raises the grade from a 0 to a 1. I’m reminded of the irate parents who stormed my classroom complaining about little Billy’s F, then leaving, somewhat mollifed, but not really, with a new grade of D. Mr. Bittman says something like, hey, it’s a semi-whole-grain-with-too-much-sugar breakfast that will be healthier at an airport McDonalds than other stuff you could eat on the fly.

I’d buy that. Er, I mean I wouldn’t buy that at an airport. I bring power muffins on airplane trips. (see  https://wordswewomenwrite.wordpress.com/?s=power+muffins: The Perfect Post-Run, Pre-Dawn Owling Muffin) Think dark chocolate, oats, tons of fruit, real honey and molasses, spelt flour, toasted walnuts, etc. Sound good don’t they? They are, if I do say so myself.

But, I have to hand it to McDonald’s. They know how to advertise. If we advertised reading the way they advertise their food, we’d be the most literate nation on earth. (Jim Trelease makes this point in his Read Aloud Handbook) Even a healthy eater like me is lured by the promo. Check it out. I dare you not to have at least a tiny what’s-not-to-like-thought skip through your head.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/promotions/oatmeal.html)

So, ever the middle child and wanting to be fair–I mean, I hadn’t actually had the stuff myself!–I went Mickey Dee’s and bought myself a Fruit and Maple Oatmeal with a cup of delicious coffee. The coffee is a winner: Newman’s Own Organics Blend produced by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Waterbury Vermont. Hurrah. I should have stopped at the coffee.

Newman's Own Organics Partnered with Green Mountain Coffee from McDonald's

The ingredients in the McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Cup are admirable.

In a cookie.

Apples, brown and golden raisins–two kinds of raisins!–cranberries, diced green and red apples–two kinds of apples!–a touch of cream, and optional brown sugar. Unfortunately I opted, and the sweet tooth in me went ballistic. I do love sweet. But the equivalent of 8 packets (32 grams) of sugar all at once? Nutritionists say 10 packets a day is the limit. I probably got there with the opt-in-brown-sugar decision. But I was getting a nice buzz on as I sipped the coffee and scraped–yes, scraped–the last bit out of the cardboard container.

McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal Closeup

Then I hit the wall.  Not from the sugar high, that would come later. It was the small print. Colors, thickeners, stabilizers, whiteners, and preservatives. Artificial maple.

Do you knowwhat it says on The Other Cardboard container? Quaker Oats - Old Fashioned

Ingredients

100% NATURAL WHOLE GRAIN QUAKER QUALITY ROLLED OATS.

 Quaker Oats - Old FashionedThe Only Ingredient are the OATS. And this brings me back to Mark’s original beef with the McDonald’s Cup. I think he should stick with it, the beef that is, not the cup.

Oatmeal isn’t an ingredient.

It’s the thing itself.

Unlike this dessert-like confection.

On second thought, maybe Mark’s right to adjust his Complete Pan to a Partial Pan. (Pan being the operative word in all things culinary.) McDonald’s new menu item is getting us to talk about whole grains.

I hope it isn’t just the choir singing to the choir.

Patty

3/16/11