Since I discovered how much energy I get from eating whole grains (whole-y energy, Batman!), I just can’t get enough. More often than not, whole grains are the basis of my meals (though I must admit that sometimes I’m perfectly happy just eating a big plate-full of oven-roasted potatoes). Of all these whole grains that I’ve learned to love, oats play the most important role. They’re a major part of my breakfast – I use a mix of whole grains for my homemade muesli, but oats comprise the lion’s share. I use old-fashioned, also known as rolled, oats. See the Kitchn’s explanation of the different kinds of oats. The nutritional profiles of the different kinds of oats are basically the same, except for glycemic index. Instant oats are higher on the glycemic index than either steel-cut or old-fashioned oats. I also throw them into a coffee grinder to make some flour to add to veggie burger mixes, among other things.

Oats are an excellent source of manganese & molybdenum. They are a very good source of copper, biotin, thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium, dietary fiber, chromium, zinc, & protein. They also contain two important phytonutrients: beta-glucans (a specific type of fiber) and saponins. Here’s a breakdown of the role that each of these nutrients plays in health:

Manganese is important for bone health and collagen production. It also helps to protect skin from UV damage and oxygen-related damage. It also plays a role in blood sugar control.

Oats are among the top sources of molybdenum. This element plays an important role in supporting the body’s detoxification process, developing connective tissues, and antioxidant activity. It may also play a role in neurotransmitter metabolism.

Copper helps iron to be absorbed into our red blood cells, so that it is possible for a copper deficiency to be mistaken for an iron deficiency. There might be an even bigger problem with copper, though. High levels of copper is associated with cognitive decline, but only in the presence of saturated & trans-fats. So, obviously, eliminate the bad fats, and you don’t need to worry so much about higher copper intake.

Biotin plays an important role in the metabolism of fats & sugar.

Vitamin B1 (a.k.a. thiamine), of which oats are in the top 10 in terms of bang for your caloric buck. Thiamine is actually widely available in whole food sources, but is easily destroyed by our ways of processing foods, so that it’s relatively easy to be deficient unless you eat a whole foods plant-based diet. It is vital to our body’s system for producing energy out of dietary carbohydrates and fats. It is also important to the brain and the rest of the nervous system, likely because they require so much energy to function.

Even a mild magnesium deficiency can lead to significant bone loss. Magnesium has also shown an anti-depressant effect, helps to enable energy production and to control inflammatory processes and blood sugar.

Zinc is essential to skin health and a functioning immune system. It is also incorporated into the retina, and works alongside Vitamin A to detect light, and transmit nerve impulses to the brain.

β-glucans (beta-glucans) and saponins are both fibers. β-glucans are a viscous soluble fiber – see my post on Kale). Saponins do a lot of the same, binding with cholesterol-containing bile acids to prevent their re-absorption into the body, supporting digestion, antioxidant activity, antimicrobial activity, and perhaps helping to fight cancer cells.

So, that’s a lot of reasons to eat oats. And did you see how many times energy came up? No wonder I get so much energy from eating my morning muesli! I was buying muesli for a while, but I have a very limited selection of the stuff in the shops around my home. I had trouble finding one the didn’t include either banana chips or coconut shavings, neither of which I’m a big fan of, so I decided to make my own maple-walnut muesli, and I’ve been doing that for several months now. It’s not at all time-consuming, and I make enough for about a week and a half at a time. If you wanted to do the same, but you’re shorter on time, you could easily make enough for 2 weeks. What’s really nice about this is that I can take advantage of seasonal fruits. I have a dehydrator, so I just dry as many as I can, and add them to the muesli until they run out. I love when it’s mirabelle season – mirabelles are berry-sized yellow plums that only grow in the Grand Est region of France, and are rarely seen elsewhere. You could substitute whatever dried fruits you want.

Here’s how I make my muesli:

  • 500 g of 5-grain muesli mix (the one I use includes oats, wheat, barley, rye, & spelt)
  • 20 g sunflower seeds
  • 75 g old-fashioned (a.k.a. rolled) oats
  • 50 g toasted buckwheat (You can buy it toasted, or, for cheaper, toast it yourself)
  • 35 g hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 135 g sultanas/raisins
  • 100 g dried fruit & berries (I cycle through mirabelles, cranberries, gooseberries, apricots, goji berries, etc)
  • 55 g dried apple pieces
  • 120 g raw walnuts (pecans are also really nice, but more expensive in my area)
  • 3 – 4 T maple syrup

See the recipe page for detailed instructions.

And here’s how I eat it each morning:

  • 1 1/2 c muesli (that’s about 1 c whole grains + 1/4 c dried fruit + 1/4 c nuts & seeds)
  • 1 T flaxseed & 1 clove, ground and mixed into the muesli

Checklist items: berries, flaxseeds, nuts & seeds, herbs & spices, 1 whole grains (5 out of 18 servings)


  • corn tortilla
  • 1 c beet greens cooked with garlic, cumin, paprika, lime juice, parsley, cilantro, & bouillon
  • 1/2 c black beans
  1. Use the above ingredients to make a burrito. I always make sure when I cook the beet greens to have plenty of sauce, which will season the beans.

Checklist items: 1 beans, 2 greens, herbs & spices, 1 whole grains (5 out of 18 servings). 


  • 1 1/2 c diced apple
  • 1 c diced turnip
  • 2 c fresh peas
  • handful of fresh mint or any herb you want
  • 1/2 c beets
  • piece of cornbread (oil-free, of course: recipe review up-coming)
  1. Cook & mash the apple & turnip together with some black pepper.
  2. Cook & blend the peas together with the mint (like mushy peas, but without the salt, butter, & cream).
  3. Beets are boiled, cooled, and seasoned with vinegar & black pepper.

Checklist items: 2 beans, 1 1/2 other fruits, 1 cruciferous, 2 other vegetables, herbs & spices, 1 whole grains ( 8.5 out of 18 servings)


  • 1 1/2 c fruit salad

Checklist items: 1 1/2 other fruits (1.5 out of 18 servings)

Taking account of the day:

20 servings in total.

We got at least the recommended servings of everything today, plus extra herbs & spices.



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