The health benefits of oats are extraordinary – they’ve been proven to reduce cholesterol because they contain a very specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. They help stabilize blood sugar, and even enhance our immune system response to bacterial infection – so how can we tart up our daily bowl to make it a bit more interesting? Here are 4 of my favorite recipes for oats, but first let’s take a look at the different kinds of oatmeal & which might be the best choice:
Oat groats: unflattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing
Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture they are produced by running the grain through steel blades which thinly slices them.
Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling
Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product.
Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread.
The only one of the above oats that I avoid is instant oatmeal because I never fancy the idea of something being partially cooked before I get it – I mean come on – it takes under 5 minutes to cook regular oatmeal!!!! Also I don’t like the additives that you often get with your partially cooked mush – flavors and sugar YUCK! So sticking to the less-processed – and the least processed would be steel-cut oatmeal – let’s get started:
Steaming Steel-Cut Oatmeal
I love steel-cut oatmeal, because it’s slightly chewy and feels a little more robust, than flattened oats. It’s less processed, so may contain more nutrients. The fly in the ointment is that it does take 20-30 minutes to cook, so if you can let it bubble away while you get on with packing the kid’s lunch boxes or feeding the dogs, it could be a great choice.
Perfect Steel Cut Toppings:
1tsp virgin coconut oil or coconut manna, raisins or chopped dates , 1tsp brown rice syrup, and a little rice or almond milk.
Old Fashioned Oatmeal
I think the key to cooking great oatmeal is not to let it cook for two long so it becomes mushy. You still want to see the individual oats. This is why I prefer whole oats, as opposed to quick-cooking oats, which are cut finer. If you want a creamier oatmeal, you can boil with nut or regular milk instead of water. I add hemp seeds to add a protein punch too.
Perfect Oatmeal Topping:
1/2 sliced banana, 1tsp brown rice syrup, chopped walnuts, 1tbsp hemp seeds, and rice or nut milk
The night before, place your old fashioned oats in a medium bowl with a handful of raisins, 1tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (optional), and mix in your choice of milk. The milk should just cover the oats – stir them in and cover the bowl. Place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, add 1 apple (cubed) and a handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
1/2 cup of agave nectar
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1tsp vanilla extract
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup walnut peices
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of chia seeds (optional)
1/2 shredded unsweetened coconut (optional)
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Pre-heat oven to 375 F
Combine the agave and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat and warm until liquefied. Add the vanilla.
Combine the oats, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and coconut in a large bowl and add the agave mixture. Mix well to evenly coat and spread over a large baking sheet.
Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then stir uncooked oats from bottom and cook for a further 10 minutes or until granola is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and add dried fruit. Allow to cool before storing in large glass container for up to one month.