Oats have a lot going for them. The soluble fibre in oats can help your body to get rid of excess cholesterol, something pretty much everyone can benefit from. I’m spending a lot of time working with people who have irritable bowel syndrome at the moment and it seems that oats are also one of the few starchy foods that can exert a calming influence across the full spectrum of uncomfortable symptoms that can come with IBS. And did I mention that they’re also tasty, filling, cheap and versatile?
So far so good, but what if you don’t like to porridge (oatmeal)? A bit of trawling through my bookmarks and cookbooks and it turns out that there are loads of different ways to include more oats in your diet:
Start at breakfast
- Mix together oats, natural yogurt and a grated apple with a pinch of cinnamon and leave to meld overnight in the fridge. The oats will soften perfectly and breakfast is ready in an instant in the morning (just remove from the fridge and drizzle with honey).
- Choose an oat-based cereal. There’s a much wider choice on the market these days than just muesli; compare labels to find one that isn’t loaded with fat or sugar.
- Thicken your smoothie with a spoonful of oats
- Whistle up a batch of oatmeal pancakes topped with fresh fruit and maple syrup (or veggies if you prefer).
- Bake your own oaty Wholemeal porridge bread and serve with poached eggs or baked beans
- Another non oatmeal fan, Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini, has a recipe for an Oatmeal Breakfast Clafoutis (great made with raspberries and warmed through just before eating)
- Love porridge but in a bit of a porridge rut? I’ve written before about some of my favourite porridge combinations which might give you ideas for new toppings.
- And OMG, I can’t believe I nearly forgot the fruit, nut and tahini breakfast bars, a great idea from Cassie and perfected by Kathryn with her tahini twist.
The main event
- Swop meatballs in marinara sauce for these fantastic Walnut pecan balls. Great with pasta and tomato sauce and the leftovers are handy in a salad or sandwich.
- Use oats as an alternative to breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish as in this Pan fried mackerel coated with lemon oatmeal
- Oat groats can replace spelt, brown rice, buckwheat groats etc in cold salads or serve them warm like this Warm savoury oatgroats with kale recipe from Martha Stewart.
- Scottish savoury oat dish Skirlie is quickly prepared and can be used as a side dish or a meal in its own right topped with a poached egg.
- This savoury crumble recipe has the added benefit of being packed with vegetables plus canellini and kidney beans.
Snacks and nibbles
- Any toppings that work for crackers and crispbreads will work for a oat biscuits too; for healthier options try nut butters, houmous, low fat soft cheese and pure fruit spreads.
- Flapjacks are the ultimate oaty convenience food. Flapjack recipes can be overly high in sugar and butter – the best healthy(ish) flapjack recipe I’ve found to date is this one from Jane Clarke (you’ll have to scroll down the page to reach the recipe), but I’d love to hear your suggestions if you know of a really good recipe.
- These oat slices are the savoury, cheesy equivalent of a flapjack if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
- Oat biscuits and oatcakes make a pleasant change to bread as an accompaniment to a steaming bowl of soup in winter.
- The food coach has a healthier take on oat-based cookie favourite, the anzac biscuit.
The pudding course
- Incorporate oats into your crumble topping (the topping on my Plum and Cherry crumble recipe will work with any fruit you like)
- Combine your favourite tart filling with an oaty wholewheat pastry, as with Heidi’s Yogurt Tartlets.
- Traditionally Scottish recipe Cranachan (usually made with toasted oats, whisky, whipped cream and berries) can be lightened with low fat creme fraiche or thick natural yogurt in place of the whipped cream.
- Experiment with your favourite cake or muffin recipe by substituting some of the flour for rolled oats (this is exactly how these Butternut squash, oat and ginger cake bites came about).
I’m also including a couple of handy links for helping you to match the type of oats in the recipe to that bag in your cupboard (there are so many different names for the same type of oats). I’d love to hear about your favourite oat recipes (especially if you have a stellar flapjack recipe to tell us about?)