I well remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears
. My favorite part, of course, was that famous perfect bowl of porridge! Of course, I had no idea what porridge was. Sad to say, but when I was a kid in Louisiana, hot breakfast cereal meant one thing: grits. In fact, all I knew about oats was that Dad would feed them to his horses or we occasionally ate them in cookies laden with raisins. The thought of eating oats as a hot breakfast cereal did not occur to any member of my family until we moved away from Louisiana and set our feet upon the California soil where grits were virtually unheard of!
These days, it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about the benefits of whole grains, especially oats! Not only are they a comforting, nourishing way to start the day, oats add stick-to-your-ribs good taste and good nutrition to all kinds of goodies, from soup to dessert. And the list of health benefits is really impressive:
- Help keep cholesterol levels healthy
- Naturally contain soluble fiber, which is important for healthy cholesterol but also for a healthy digestive track
Just one cup of cooked old-fashioned (regular) oatmeal contains:
- 4 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of fat (only 1 gram of saturated fat)
- 6 grams of protein
- no cholesterol
- Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese
Just about everybody knows that oats are good for breakfast and cookies, but did you know that oats can be used in everything from soup to meatloaf to pie crust? Here’s what I mean:
- Make “creamy” soup using oats? Absolutely! Add a handful of rolled oats to your soup at the end of cooking. Simmer until oats are tender. Puree for a “creamy,” delicious effect! Try this with most typical creamy, pureed soups.
- Add a handful of rolled oats to vegetable soup just like you would a handful of rice or noodles.
- Add rolled oats to cookies and bars like in these Tahini Oat Cookies, these Cherry Orange Oatmeal Outdoors Bars, and these delicious Sunflower Cherry Oatmeal Bars.
- Add rolled oats to quick breads, yeast breads and muffins in place of some of the flour. This will boost the fiber content and add a chewy, yummy effect.
- Make oatmeal pancakes or waffles. Here’s an idea for Oatmeal Apple Pancakes.
- Make a pie crust in your food processor using flour mixed with oats. Try this: ¾ cup all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour, ½ cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter or vegan natural margarine, ¼ tsp sea salt and 3-4 tablespoons of ice water. Pulse flour, oats, salt and butter until crumbly in a food processor. Slowly add water while continuing to process until dough starts to form a ball. Press or roll out and line an 8-inch pie plate. Fill and bake.
- A really great way to use oats is to add them to meatloaf! It’s a great replacement for breadcrumbs and requires no prior cooking. Just add 1 cup of rolled oats to 2 pounds of ground beef or turkey. You’ll love the delicious taste and the bonus health benefits!
- Mix with other whole grains for a delicious breakfast cereal like we did with this Apple-Scented Breakfast Oatmeal and Buckwheat.
When you shop for oats, you’ll notice several varieties. Just remember old-fashioned rolled oats, including the thick cut variety, are the whole oat groats that have been steamed and run through rollers to flatten them out. They are thicker, heartier and chewier than quick cooking and instant oats, which are flaked; The old-fashioned rolled oats stay with you,
keeping you satisfied longer. Whole oat groats are the actual whole grain. These are super delicious and creamy when prepared by overnight cooking in a crock pot. Steel cut oats are sometimes called Irish oats or Scotch oats. They are whole oat groats that have been hulled and steamed and sometimes roasted (for greater flavor); they are then cut into pieces by large steel blades. These delicious, coarsely cut oats are also wonderful cooked overnight in a crock pot or soaked overnight and cooked until tender on the stovetop, about 30 to 40 minutes.
By the way, if it’s just straight oatmeal you’re looking for, then look no further than A Perfect Pot of Oatmeal
Got a perfect porridge recipe or a favorite way to enjoy oats? I would love to hear!