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Oats, Oatmeal, Oat Groats and Oatbran: Cooking, Baking, Nutritional Info
Oats: A Healthy Option?
Are you looking for the perfect low-fat ingredient for a healthy breakfast, a tasty lunch or a hearty supper? When it comes to oats, you need look no further: oats have it all.
The healthy reputation of this venerable traditional cereal has enjoyed a big boost in recent years. Reputable scientific research, e.g. a 2003 study by Berg et al, has lauded oat-bran in particular, as being something approaching a wonder medicine for the heart and circulatory system. According to Berg et al, it can mop up unhealthy cholesterol levels (including the harmful LDL cholesterol).1 Not bad for a bowl of cereal polished off with skimmed milk and blueberries!
So what can you do with your big bag of oats once you’ve bought them? It's harder than you might think to find an oat groats recipe, or advice on how to cook oat groats.. Of course the most traditional option that immediately springs to mind is porridge. A big bowl of steaming porridge to set you up for the day and stick to your ribs! You can make it like the Scottish (allegedly) make it and use water and a little salt. Or you can make it like I make it, with full fat milk and extra sugar! Yum!
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Can You Make Bread With Oats?
Unfortunately oats are unsuitable for making bread with, as they contain very little gluten. (This is the stretchy, sticky protein in wheat that makes such good bread dough.) What you can do is make great oatcakes with them, really only with some porridge oats or oatmeal, fat or oil and a little salt. Super easy and delicious!
If you’re looking for a sweeter alternative to feed your sweet tooth, then of course oatmeal and raisin cookies are a real old favourite. Alternatively for something more chunky and filling you could go for flapjacks: oats, margarine, golden syrup and anything you like to flavour them, and they’re quick and easy to make. Share them with your friends and family or you’ll be sharing them with your hips!
But enough of the scoffing: what about the nutritional content of oats? According to the United States Department of Agriculture,half a cup of oats has 1.5 grams of fat, no cholesterol, 5mg of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fibre and 3 grams of protein. Combine them with a bean side dish (oatcakes and houmous, anyone?) and you get a complete protein. Mineral content of oats includes iron and calcium.
Oat Beauty Masks & Aids
Of course, don’t forget that oats are a rich source of goodness and not just as a food product! Beauty products have been made out of the oat for hundreds of years: it is a famous skin softener and beautifier, and you can easily make an oat bath or skin scrub.3
Another great advantage of oats is that which applies to your pocketbook – they’re fantastically cheap! When times are tight you can use them in all sorts of ways to make more expensive ingredients go further. They will bulk up home-made burgers, can be an undetectable addition to cooked mince and add fibre, protein and extra platefuls to home-made stews and casseroles!
If you’re a Scot or Northern Brit, or originally of such stock, then eating oats is in your genes. They are a hardy crop, well suited to the cold and stony soils of my native lands and offering a rich reward for a minimal farming input. Try oats in your home cuisine – you could be surprised by the results!
1. Berg, A., Konig, D., Deibert, P., Grathwohl, D., Berg, A., Baumstark, M.W., Franz, I. "Effect of an Oat Bran Enriched Diet on the Atherogenic Lipid Profile in Patients with an Increased Coronary Heart Disease Risk." Annals Of Nutrition & Metabolism. 47.6 (2003): 306-311.
2. United States Department of Agriculture. "Oats, Whole Grain, Rolled, Dry." Household Commodity Fact Sheet B445. (April 2009).
3. Mars, B. "Beauty by Nature." Summertown: Healthy Living Publications, 2006.
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