Oats are such a nutritional powerhouse and certainly one of my favourite breakfast meals! They make the perfect warming nourishing breakfast porridge in the colder months. And are fresh and delicious eaten cold as overnight oats paired with summer fruits in the warmer weather. What’s even better is you can make a large batch prepped for the next few days ahead. Now there’s no excuses for breakfast in a hurry!
Oats are packed with energy-producing B vitamins, strong antioxidants, polyphenols (including avenanthramide), and many vitamins and minerals which support the nervous system, endocrine system (hormones), and help with growth. This includes manganese, phosphorus, copper, chromium, biotin, B1, iron, selenium, magnesium and zinc.
Oats are a source of quality protein, healthy fats and low GI complex carbohydrates. Of these carbohydrates about 25% is resistant starch, which functions similar to fiber. Resistant starch isn’t absorbed, instead it feeds friendly bacteria in the small intestines and the bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids. SCFAs may reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other conditions (1).
Oats can be bought as steel cut (whole grouts cut into 2-3 pieces), rolled oats (whole oats dehusked, steamed and rolled flat), and quick oats (further processed and cut thinner and smaller to absorb water quicker and cook faster). Quick oats have a more mushy texture and a higher GI, which is why I prefer the rolled variety.
Are oats gluten free?
This is a bit of a grey area, but head over to my article here, where I explain what the deal is with oats and gluten.
- Lowers cholesterol (2,3) – the unique fermentable fiber ‘beta-glucan’ is known to lower total and LDL cholesterol. Beta-glucan binds to cholesterol in the small intestines and inhibits its re-absorption.
- May be beneficial for type 2 Diabetes – studies have shown consumption of beta-glucan improves glucose and lipid metabolism and help control blood sugar response (4,5)
- Improves gut health & immune function (6) – fermentable and soluble fibers improve the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut (such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli), which also increases immunity.
- Improves cardiovascular health & decreases heart disease risk (7) -Avenanthramides may help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.
- Appetite control & weight loss (8,9) – fiber slows digestion as well as promotes the release of a hormone called peptide YY, which signals your body you are full. This may help reduce overall calorie intake and assist with weight control.
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT PORRIDGE
1/2 cup (50g) rolled oats provides approx. 30g carbs, 8g protein, 4g fat, and 5g fiber.
- 1/2 cup (50g) rolled oats
- 1 cup water or plant-based milk (almond, coconut, etc.)
- 1 scoop protein powder (plant-based, whey or collagen) – optional
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon – optional (find out the benefits of cinnamon here)
- Place oats, milk and cinnamon into a saucepan. Simmer over low to medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until cooked to the desired consistency.
- Pour oats into a bowl and stir through protein (don’t cook with the protein in it, as heating protein powder too high can denature and destroy some of the protein). Add a little extra water or milk to reach desired consistency
- Top with toppings below!
Cold ‘Overnight’ Oats:
- Place oats and cinnamon into a bowl or container (BPA free or glass is best).
- Mix protein powder with water or milk and pour over oats. Stir through to combine.
- Top with toppings below, then refrigerate overnight. Breakfast is ready on-the-go in the morning!
Soaking oats overnight reduces the anti-nutrient compound ‘phytic acid’ that binds to zinc and calcium in the gut and excretes it (we don’t want this to happen).
5 WAYS WITH OATS
Begin with your choice of warm or cold ‘overnight’ oats as the base, then top with a variety of toppings each week! You can even double (or triple) the recipe to make a few serves ready for the days ahead.
The recipes below have been created and portioned to have a balance of complex carbohydrates, protein, a small serve of healthy fats, and fruit for added vitamins and antioxidants.
Choc Cherry Ripe
Add: 2 squares dark chocolate (chopped), 1 heaped tsp raw cacao powder, handful frozen cherries, 1 tbls flaked coconut (unsweetened).
Carrot Cake Porridge
Add: 1 small carrot (grated), 1 tbls sultanas, 6 walnuts, 1-2 tbls natural greek yogurt (no sugar added), 1/4 tsp nutmeg & ground ginger.
Stewed Apple Pie Porridge
Add: 1 apple (simmered with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg & 4 tbls water until softened), 1/4 cup warm coconut milk (optional).
Layered with Berry ‘Chia’ Jam
Add: 1 tbls chia, added to a handful frozen berries (warmed and crushed). Allow to sit for 10 minutes for the chia to form a ‘gel’/jam like consistency.
Baked Pear, Chia and Coconut
Add: 1 pear (halved, cored and baked for 20 mins drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil), 1 tbls coconut flakes (unsweetened), 1 tsp chia seeds