Breakfast time! I don’t know about you but when the cooler weather hits there’s nothing like an oat porridge in the morning.
But would you know it, oat porridge is actually a bit of an ancient thing? Before the advent of some of the more modern baking techniques, it used to be a staple food in many places around the world.
And hey, it just goes on and on an on (like a magic porridge pot haha) remaining a popular breakfast food to this very day.
Oat porridge is typically made with dehulled and rolled or cut oats (also called oatmeal if you are from the USA) – these are the ones you normally buy in a packet in the supermarket or health food store (the only ‘oats’ most of us have ever known).
Before they reach the shelves, these oats have been steamed and rolled into flat flakes, which means that they have been radically reduced in thickness and have already been partially cooked before we buy them. In short, this means that we can cook them much quicker than the whole oat groats that come straight from the plant.
Nutritionally speaking their health benefits are pretty noteworthy…
They are also high in many essential vitamins and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, selenium, zinc, phosphorus and B vitamins. All of these carry individual and very noteworthy health benefits.
Oats are the only known plant source of the unique polyphenols, avenanthramides (big posh words ay!), which are unique antioxidants thoughts to help against heart disease. According to research “the polyphenols of oats have also recently been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and anti-itching activity, which may provide additional protection against coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and skin irritation.”
Are oats gluten-free?
That’s the big question! When I looked into this, I found that farmers normally rotate their crops (i.e. grow different crops in each field every year). This means that oats will typically share fields where gluten grains such as wheat and barley have previously grown. Anyone who knows anything about growing plants in their own gardens will be aware that is that it is almost impossible not to have ‘unwanted’ seeds from previous years crops popping back up randomly. So, this year’s oat crop will inevitably have some of last years wheat popping back up through the soil (for example).
Farmers often also grow these different grains in fields next to each other too, leading to wind-blown contamination. Unfortunately for gluten sensitives, this means a small (but significant) amount of contamination. It has been shown that whilst oats themselves are gluten-free, they are more often than not contaminated with gluten.
Oats have also been shown to be contaminated in the factories (those which also process wheat, rye & barley) or in transportation containers etc.
The good thing is that now you can buy gluten-free oats. These are oats grown separately from gluten grains and produced in facilities where there is no sign of anything containing gluten. Read more about gluten-free oats here: Are Oats Gluten-free or Not and Does It Matter?
I am gluten-sensitive and get super sleepy and a big swollen belly if I eat gluten. This used to happen when I ate oats at times too.
Since moving onto GF oats however, I never have any trouble with them at all, as long as I purchase certified ones (which may be called ‘uncontaminated oats’ in Australia).
A wonderful way to enjoy oats…
Porridge is an excellent way to use oats. Cooking oats makes their nutrients readily available and let’s face it, porridge is really hearty and feel-good.
It’s pretty simple to make. In my version, I am using a little bit of creamed coconut (which comes in a solid block) or coconut butter. This solidifies at room temperature and melts upon heating. It also happens to add a delightful creaminess to the porridge as well as some extra healthy fats.
I am simply using water as the liquid in this recipe and upon melting, the creamed coconut acts in place of milk. Then I am adding coconut sugar to sweeten (as it happens to be one of the healthiest of sweeteners) and cinnamon to taste.
You can print the recipe below, but please watch short my video first to join me in my kitchen (which, at the time of writing is in a tiny cabin in the mountains of La Palma island) and see how I make it…
- 75g rolled oats (3/4 cup)
- 500ml water or 2 cups (approximately)
- 25g creamed coconut (or coconut butter)
- 1 heaped tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Please watch my video above for a quick, helpful visual guide on how to make this*
- Measure your oats, pop them in the pan with the water. Turn on the heat to a medium level. Add about half the water to start with (add the rest as required during the cooking period).
- Add the coconut sugar and stir the porridge regularly so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Slice or grate the creamed coconut (see my video on what I mean). This will quickly melt upon heating.
- Half way through cooking add the creamed coconut and cinnamon.
- Mix in thoroughly.
- Continue to stir and add water as required. The oats will readily absorb the liquid.
- Your porridge will be ready to eat after 10 to 15 minutes. I like to give it 15 minutes just to make sure the oats are thoroughly cooked.
- You can also cook for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and come back 15 minutes later to enjoy (handy if you are getting ready for work or want to pop into the shower).
- If you prefer it sweeter then add more coconut sugar. Likewise, if you want more coconut or cinnamon, just play with the ingredients to get your perfect porridge.
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