December 23, 2012
As the temperature drops down, our cravings for warm, comforting foods skyrocket. I'm currently obsessed with oatmeal. A warm bowl of it with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of cinnamon for breakfast, makes me feel as if everything will be all right, sweet and warm. But...that's the morning, and wouldn’t it be lovely to extend the feeling for the rest of the day? Eating that same dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, wouldn’t be a problem for me, but I do have a family to feed and a responsibility of doing so coherently.
Besides oat’s mild, but rich, hearty flavor, this grain is a good source of protein, rich in soluble fiber (especially beta glucans, that lower cholesterol), B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.
I’d been dreaming up imaginary recipes using more oats, so I proposed to Estee an exploration of the cereal in savory dishes. We’re used to pairing it with sweet flavors, but I thought it had way more potential than just that. She liked the idea, and I (and my family) loved the results. I hope you agree with me.
Let’s just first explain the different kinds of oats available, as it can be a bit confusing to know which one to purchase. According to the Whole Grains Council, these are the varieties:
Whole Oat Groats: A groat is another word for a grain kernel. Whole oat groats are the result of simply harvesting oats, cleaning them, and removing their inedible hulls. You can most often find these in health food stores. They take the longest to cook.
Steel Cut Oats (Irish Oatmeal): If you cut groats into two or three pieces with a sharp steel blade, you get steel cut oats. They cook quicker than oat groats.
Scottish Oatmeal: Instead of cut with a blade, the groats are stone-ground, creating broken bits of different sizes, which some say results in a creamier porridge.
Rolled Oats (Regular, Old Fashioned): The groats are steamed and then rolled into flakes. This process stabilizes the oils in the kernels, so they stay fresh longer; and helps the oats cook faster. Rolled oats can even be eaten without further cooking, if desired.
Gluten Free Oats: Oats don’t actually contain any gluten, but are often processed in the same equipment as other grains that do have it. Therefore, the cross contact may be harmful for people with gluten allergies or celiac disease. Gluten free oats are kept apart completely to avoid this cross contact, ensuring their safety for consumers on a gluten free diet.
Quick or Instant Rolled Oats: The oat flakes are rolled even thinner, and/or steamed longer, so they cook the fastest. The nutritional values of all oat varieties is similar, with the exception of quick or instant rolled oats that have contain additives such as sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives, salt, etc.
Oat Flour: The oat groats are completely ground into whole grain flour, that can be used in baking and cooking.
Try these delicious recipes!
This recipe is my family’s newest favorite dish! Since they are my captive Guinea pigs, they tend to be suspicious when I serve them a new food. I stare at them in suspense until I get their verdict. This one was a pleaser with the highest of praises: empty bowls!
I was delighted to be able to feed them such a nutritious meal (when you combine a legume –cannellini beans—and a cereal—oats—you get complete protein. And along with fiber, vitamins and minerals, this is a keeper!). Did I mention it’s prepared in the slow cooker? Unbelievable but true!
I serve it with a “toppings buffet.” The children love the freedom to choose and to be part of the process, and the adults can season theirs as boldly as they want.
These are a delicious snack (the savory answer to granola) and are an amazing topping for salads or soups. We just eat them by the handful! Nutritional yeast, which can be found in health food stores, gives them a cheese-like flavor without the addition of dairy. It’s a deactivated form of baker’s yeast, which adds great nutritional value, but it won’t make the crunchies rise. The chipotle chili powder (smoked jalapeno peppers) adds some lovely heat and smokiness to a chilly winter day.
This can be a wonderful side dish or a great lunch served with a soup or salad on the side. Even as breakfast! It’s full of nutrients from the oats, the vegetables and the eggs, and very satisfying. You can make it pareve by omitting the cheese, but make sure you season it with salt and pepper at every step.