Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal sweetened with agave nectar and passion fruit gastrique

May 2, 2007 in breakfast, diabetes, Food Porn, low glycemic index, product


If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, following a low carb diet, or simply trying to eat lower processed foods, breakfast can be one of the hardest meals of the day. So much of what we eat here in the US for breakfast is high glycemic.

If you want to eat on the go, it can be extremely difficult to find something that is not almost pure carbs and often highly processed carbs (breakfast cereal, oatmeals, juice, etc).

Before my recent blood sugar test results, this was my breakfast – French Roast Starbucks with milk and a LOT of sugar. (I buy the Starbucks coffee in the bag from the store so I am not talking about a coffee bought in one of their stores). Though this killed my hunger immediately this drink is bad on several levels!

Obviously, loads of white sugar first thing in the morning is non-nutritive and simply counterproductive.

Caffeine causes insulin resistance (Keijzers GB et al. 2002, Graham TE, et al. 2001), especially in skeletal muscle (Thong FSL. et al. 2002) (you can somewhat reverse this effect with exercise).

“Diminished response to insulin, but not exercise/contraction signals leading to glucose transport in skeletal muscle, is a major factor responsible for insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes.” (Thong FSL. et al. 2002)

This is a super negative thing because, if you “starve” the skeletal muscles of glucose then your metabolism is not going to be optimal and thus your weight loss efforts will be side-tracked. Further, if you reduce insulin responsivity then your blood sugar will rise. If you “poison” the skeletal muscles, taking them out of the sugar consumption loop to some degree, then blood sugar is even harder to control.

It is well known that a walk will decrease your blood sugar levels, drinking a cup of coffee before hand may not be the best idea.

Just as an aside, we use caffeine in the lab to do all sorts of nasty things to culture cells. It speeds up the cell cycle and can lead to aneuploidies or chromosome abnormalities. Fun stuff isn’t it!

I have to tell you, giving up caffeine is extremely difficult for me but this is just one MORE reason to reconsider cutting it out. The only time I have been able to cut it out has been during pregnancy and its easier then because you have an increased blood volume and all sorts of hormones that seem to help with the feelings of wellness that I use caffeine for.


Today’s breakfast featured here is McCann’s Irish steel-cut oatmeal, sliced star fruit, bacon, a [passion fruit gastrique with dried apricots, and an egg.

This entire thing started out simply with the oatmeal and then grew into what you see here because this is what I had on had after going to the grocery store and buying little oddities like passion fruit, star fruit and Alessi White Balsamic Fig Infused Vinegar. I had to figure out a way to make the oatmeal look attractive and taste delicious while not going crazy on sugar. I also wanted to try my sample of Partida Agave Nectar which has a stupendously low glycemic index! I got my sample as a review product from the Well Fed Network but I can not seem to find ordering information online! Will update if I do find it.

Why steel-cut oats? It has a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. Why is that? Because rolled oats have been so processed (rolled, steamed, beaten within an inch of it’s life) that they have a higher percentage of simple sugars. Steel-cut oats are more whole and thus have not been “pre-digested” to some degree by the rolled oat processing.

The other ingredients are listed below with their GI values or cal counts:

  • Steel cut oatmeal – 52 (Rolled oats oatmeal – 75)
  • Agave nectar – 10 (White sugar – 100)
  • Passion fruit – 30
  • Star Fruit – 40 cals – tastes sort of melon like but brighter and its juicy too, delish and not JUST a garnish! See note at the bottom*.
  • Egg and bacon – zero (though protein is insulinic)

I followed the package directions for the oatmeal (a bit more than 30 minutes of cooking)

The passion fruit gastrique is something I made up so I will provide the recipe below.

Passion fruit Apricot Fig Gastrique



In a small pan over medium heat, combine the scooped out pulpy seeds of the 2 passion fruits, the sliced apricots, 1 tablespoon of the Agave Nectar, 1 teaspoon of the fig vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Simmer this down until it thickens to your desire consistency. You may need to add some water to thin or simmer longer to get it thicker, up to you!

I put the syrup through a strainer to get rid of most of the midnight black seeds (which have these very interesting little divots across their surface) as they didn’t seem very edible to me.

When I served this all up, I put some agave nectar in the oatmeal and stirred it up. I put the oatmeal into the bacon round (secured with a bit of wooden skewer) and then drizzled it with the gastrique and added a bit of apricot. The remainder of apricots were put into a passion fruit rind. Do NOT eat raw passion fruit rind (has cyanide compounds in it).


* A note on star fruit: If you have renal disease, and especially if you are on dialysis, please do not eat star fruit. You can not clear a substance or toxin (oxalic acid) found in it. This is called star fruit intoxication.

Star fruit, belonging to the Oxalidaceae family, species Averrhoa carambola, is a popular fruit among Orientals. There have been reports of hiccup, confusion, and occasional fatal outcomes in uraemic patients after ingestion of star fruit. An excitatory neurotoxin from star fruit has been implicated although the exact nature of this toxic substance has not been identified. A group of seven patients is described from the dialysis centres at Queen Mary and Tung Wah Hospitals who developed symptoms including hiccup, confusion, vomiting, impaired consciousness, muscle twitching and hyperkalaemia shortly after ingestion of star fruit. Symptoms of most patients resolved after intensified dialysis or spontaneously, and no mortality was observed. The close temporal relationship of ingestion of star fruit and onset of symptoms strongly suggests the existence of a causal relationship between the two. It is recommended that uraemic patients should totally abstain from star fruit due to these rare but potentially fatal complications. The clinical manifestations of other reported series and current evidence for the possible candidate(s) of the neurotoxin are discussed. (Tse, KC et al. 2003)

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