EVERYTHING OATS FROM NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS TO AMAZING RECIPES
Oats are undeniably one of my favorite foods. I know, I know, boring right? Well I’m here to let you in on a little secret…they don’t have to be! Oats are chock full of nutritional benefits and can be used in a multitude of ways when cooking. If you’ve only ever used them for oatmeal before (which can be boring) then you’re about to be pleasantly surprised. Plus, they’re the key ingredient in the best overnight oats recipe that I’ll be sharing later on in this post.
Before we dive into all that, I first must address the title of this post. For those of you who were alive in the nineties or at least old enough to remember them, I hope you appreciate my tribute to Alanis Morissette and I hope the song is only stuck in your head for half as long as it was mine. Though I can’t take complete credit for it (or much at all) as I asked my husband to come up with a punny title for me. So really I can only take credit for appreciating and using it. He did come up with a lot of options though so it was hard to choose. Other contenders included “Oats and Hoes” as tribute to the classic movie Step Brothers, an equally funny and completely ridiculous movie that we love, as well as “Oatside the Box,” “Oater Space” and “Oat La Di, Oat La Da, Life Goes On.”
Let’s start with why oats can be an extremely beneficial addition to your diet from a nutrition perspective.
1. Excellent source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber promotes gut health, aids in lowering cholesterol and can reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
2. Naturally gluten free. Oats are Celiac’s disease and gluten sensitive friendly as they are naturally gluten free, just be sure to find a brand labeled gluten free as many oats are processed in plants with other grains that are not gluten free.
3. Contain several vitamins and minerals, including iron and manganese. Oats contain thiamin, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper and selenium in addition to non-heme iron and manganese which provide a variety of health benefits. Manganese not only assists in metabolism but also aids in the synthesis of healthy bones.
There are two types of iron: heme found in meats and non-heme found mostly in plant products. Heme iron is more bioavailable than non-heme, meaning it is more easily absorbed by your body. The good news is, absorption of non-heme iron is increased when consumed with foods rich in vitamin C. Oats contain the non-heme type of iron, so try topping them with strawberries or adding an orange to your meal for optimal nutrition benefits.
VARIETY AND VERSATILITY
Personally, I could eat a bowl of oats every single morning for breakfast and never get bored. I think it is important when making healthful diet choices not to over-complicate things or you run the risk of not sticking with it. If you love oats like I do, there is no reason you can’t have them for breakfast every day. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as they say! Just don’t have them for every meal every day. And don’t force yourself to have them if you don’t like them (though you might after you try my overnight oats recipe below)! Try another whole grain instead, you’re bound to like one of them.
Eating a varied diet, or in other words, a diet containing a number of different foods from each food group, is most beneficial for long term health. What this means is, if you want to eat oats for breakfast every day, make sure you get in a variety of other whole grains (maybe whole wheat bread with lunch and brown rice at dinner). Also, balance your meals with fruits, veggies, healthy fats and lean protein throughout the day to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.
One easy way to help with this is to mix up how you eat your oats! Lucky for you, oats are super versatile. They can be used for hot oatmeal or cold overnight oats, for granola, in breads and baked goods, ground for flour, etc. which all can be complemented with a number of healthy foods. They can be dressed up with chia seeds and figs or simple with berries or nut butters. Try out some options and see what you like best.
Two oat recipes that I LOVE are:
1. Sally’s Baking Addiction Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes - I cannot get enough of Sally’s Baking Addiction in general, then throw in these whole wheat oatmeal pancakes and I’m hooked. They’re sweet enough on their own without adding any maple syrup on top but spice it with some strawberries, blueberries or bananas and they’re perfect!
2. Rachel Mansfield’s Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Crisp Cereal - Growing up I LOVED peanut butter Captain Crunch, like a lot. Needless to say, I didn’t really have a nutritional focus for my diet back then and these babies were my favorite. I used to shove them in my mouth by the handful and tear up the roof of my mouth. From there I progressed to Reese’s Puffs and my life was changed forever *sigh* Well, Rachel Mansfield has created the perfect better for you alternative using oat flour (and peanut butter, of course)!
AMAZING VANILLA PEANUT BUTTER OVERNIGHT OATS
For me, this recipe right here is my absolute favorite and I make it at least twice a week. The best part? You can have them cold or warm! I’m usually a warm oatmeal girl myself, but sometimes a bowl of cold cereal really hits the spot and these work just as well for that. In fact, they start as overnight oats and a quick toss in the microwave will make them into a delicious bowl of hot oatmeal!
For those of you new to overnight oats, it is as simple as tossing the ingredients in an air tight container and letting it sit overnight in the fridge then voila! in the morning you have a delicious bowl of cold oats that you can top as you wish and enjoy right away. Since there isn’t much more explanation needed, let’s dive right in.
½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup water or milk of choice (Add 1-2 T more if too dry)
1 T natural creamy peanut butter*
1 tsp pure maple syrup or honey
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
½ scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)**
1. Mix all ingredients together in airtight container.
2. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
3. When ready to eat, top as desired and enjoy!
For hot oatmeal, microwave for 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally.
PRO TIP: Mix the overnight oats with 1 cup of your favorite plain greek yogurt for an even creamier and delicious meal!
* Almond butter doesn’t work as well here. Stirring the peanut butter into the oats adds a creamy consistency whereas the almond butter makes it less creamy and a little bit gritty. If you’re allergic to peanuts, leave it out and top with any nut butter when you’re ready to eat.
** For this, I use Quest Vanilla Milkshake as it is the only vanilla protein powder I’ve found that I enjoy the taste and the ingredients don’t make me cringe. Typically, I go for vegan plant protein, but I haven’t found a vanilla version that I like. Feel free to use whichever powder you enjoy or leave it out entirely.