Oats Make a Powerful Breakfast
Breakfast is known as “the most important meal of the day” which is why it is so important to find something nutritious and tasty to fuel your body. The first thing you choose eat in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
It’s hard to believe now, but I didn’t used to be a big fan of oats. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed my fair share of them in cookies and crisps. But oatmeal? Not so much. My previous experience with oatmeal was limited to the little packets of instant oats with flavors claiming to be apple cinnamon or brown sugar. I tried to convince myself that I liked it because, like so many people, I thought it was healthy! Even though these packets look like they would be good for you, they’re absolutely filled with sugar. There are 12 grams of sugar in just one packet (about 1 Tablespoon) compared to the 1 gram of sugar in ½ cup of plain rolled oats. And yet, almost every time I would make a bowl, I had to add more sugar just to make it taste semi-edible. Plus, the portions are so tiny that I found myself hungry an hour later! Do yourself a favor; skip the packets of instant oatmeal and head straight for the real thing.
Oats have an incredible amount health benefits and are actually a whole grain. They really pack a nutritional punch! Oats are probably best known for being heart healthy. They help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and help regulate blood pressure. Like many plant strong foods, oats contain a fantastic amount of fiber. This contributes to a greater feeling of satiety, which may help with mindless snacking. Oats also may also reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. As a bonus, they keep you fueled throughout the day when you have a long day of work or school.
You’ve probably noticed that your grocery store offers several different types of oats. The most common ones are steel cut oats, old fashioned rolled oats, and quick oats. No doubt, it can get a little confusing when it comes time to buy them. Here’s what you need to know: all of the varieties start off as an oat groat, which is the grain kernel with the inedible hull removed. Steel cut oats are groats that are cut into pieces. They take the longest to cook and have a chewy texture. Old fashioned rolled oats are the “regular” type of oats. To create the familiar oval shape, they are first steamed and then rolled. Quick oats are steamed and rolled even thinner than old fashioned oats. These are often found in pieces and produce a somewhat of a creamy texture.
Oats don’t have to be boring! Just like there are many different types of oats, there are many different ways to cook them too. Experiment with a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a microwave, and the refrigerator (for overnight oats) to find what works for you. You can even get fancy and set the timer so that you wake up to freshly made oatmeal. Now that’s a smell that would make me get out of bed!
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
I love how oatmeal tastes when it’s made on the stove. In fact, I’ve been eating oats this way for nearly two years now. My homemade version has come a long way from the sugar filled packets I would attempt to eat. Although, if you find yourself wanting your oats a bit sweeter, don’t hesitate to add a chopped date or two. The banana you choose should be ripe, or at the very least not green on the stem. The riper the banana, the sweeter your oatmeal will be.
2 cups water
½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 Tablespoon chia seeds (or ground flaxseed)
1 banana (ripe), sliced thin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat and stir every few minutes until desired consistency. The more you stir as it cooks, the creamier your oatmeal will be. If it starts to boil, turn the heat down just a bit.
For those of you who are constantly on the go, this may be the breakfast for you. This granola is super easy to throw into your backpack or workbag and pop it out whenever you’re hungry. It’s delicious as cereal in the morning with your favorite non-dairy milk. It also can be used as a topping for just about anything.
6 cups oats
¾ cup applesauce (or pumpkin)
1 cup dates, chopped small
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon (or other spice)
Preheat oven to 300*. Combine dates with 1 cup of water on stovetop. For a crunchier granola, use less liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continually stir. Once the mix has thickened up a bit, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. The next step is optional if the mixture is thick enough. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to thicken. Mix in applesauce (or pumpkin), vanilla, and cinnamon. Sometimes the zest of fruit or even a squeeze of orange juice is good in here as well.
Place oats in a large bowl and pour the mixture over them. Mix well. You might resort to using your hands—it will get messy (it’s worth it!). If you like a doughy texture, leave some pieces a little bit bigger than others. Spread out on a parchment lined large cookie sheet and place in the oven. Every 15 minutes, be sure to move it around a bit so it can cook evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes or until desired texture. Keep in mind that as it cools it will get crispier.
Toasted Oat Baked Apples:
This recipe is so simple; there are only three ingredients! I have no idea what it is about baking apples this way, but they are SO good! The addition of the toasted oats just gives it that extra something. This recipe is definitely worth a try if you’re a fan of apple crisp. Mmm…apple crisp for breakfast!
Apples (golden delicious work really well)
Cinnamon (or any other spice)
For the toasted oats- Preheat oven to 350*. Place oats on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden and toasty.
For the apples- Preheat oven to 350* Cut apples into 1 inch cubes. Toss with cinnamon and place into an oven-safe dish. Add a bit of water. Bake until tender. A rice cooker or slow cooker also works well for this step.
Finally, spoon apples into a bowl, top with a scoop of toasted oats and enjoy!