Oatmeal

Oats, oatmeal, steel-cut oats, instant oats, overnight oats, rolled oats, oat milk… You get the idea. This beloved breakfast grain has been utilized for centuries and comes in many different forms and varieties. Now that temperatures are dropping for fall, the itch to stir a pot in the morning increases. Oatmeal is admittedly one of my favorite dishes to have in the morning, so what better food to give a shout-out for my true first blog post. For this post, I dusted off the old trusty university textbooks and added some trivial information for you to enjoy. I will also get into the nutritional benefits of oats and whether oats are gluten-free or not. I included 3 different recipes for you to try, and not all of them resembling the stereotypical grandfather’s breakfast wallpaper glue. These are definitely some of the more superficial bowls of oatmeal that have come from my kitchen.

Oats in a jar

History and trivia

Avena sativa, also known as the common oat, seems to favor climates such as that in my own country, the Netherlands: wet and temperate. Oats are a relatively recent cultivated crop, first produced around 1000 BCE. Other grains, such as wheat and rye, were first cultivated around 6000-8000 BCE. The oat first made its debut as a feed for livestock and was also used for medicinal purposes by the Greeks and the Romans. Because oats prefer temperate climates, it is no surprise the domestication of this grain was important in North-Western Europe. It can even be grown in Nordic regions as a summer grain but was most prominently first cultivated for human consumption in Great-Britain. Especially in Wales and Scotland, where oats formed an important part of the human diet throughout history in the form of oatmeal and bannocks (oatcakes). You might have seen porridge featured in the tv-series Outlander, where some of the characters pull up their nose at what is actually a very healthy breakfast to start the day with.

Picture of a bowl of pirate oatmeal and a glass of rum

The stats

If you are a geek like me, I am sure you would like to know everything about the nutritional stats of this grain. Oats contain soluble fiber, which is beneficial to the health of your digestive system and adds to satiation, making you feel full for longer. Oats also contain a fair amount of protein compared to other grains. Oat milk, however, contrary to popular belief, does not contain a lot of protein compared to cow’s milk or dairy-free milk based on soy. Oats contain plenty of polyunsaturated fats and B-vitamins such as thiamine and pantothenic acid.

Old-fashioned oatmeal ingredients

As a dietitian, I am often being asked the question of whether oats are gluten-free and if they can be safely consumed by patients with celiac disease. Whereas some sources would answer yes and other sources might answer no, the most honest response to this question is: it depends. Different cultivated varieties of oats have varying compositions. Avenins, a protein present in oats, can trigger celiac disease in some people. Another problem is that oats are often subject to cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains, such as during harvesting, processing, or the packaging-stage of the product. If you suffer from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, it is important to do extensive research on the product you are buying to track down its purity and safety to consume. For more information about this, check out this article by the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Nutritional information chart per 100 g: rolled oats
Energy1575 KJ / 373 kcal
Carbohydrates60.7 g
Sugars0.4 g
Dietary fiber7.3 g
Fat7.3 g
Saturated fats1.3 g
Monounsaturated fats2.6 g
Polyunsaturated fats2.9 g
Protein12.8 g
Thiamine0.6 mg
Pantothenic acid1.5 mg
Based on NEVO online version 2019/6.0

King of variety

Oatmeal allows for wonderful mixing and matching to take place in your kitchen. There is a lot that you can add to spice up or sweeten up your breakfast. You can add nuts, seeds, fruits, dried fruits, sugars and syrups, spices, and even other more savory options such as meats and vegetables depending on the cuisine.

You can cook oatmeal with water, broth, (lactose-free) milk, or a non-dairy milk replacement such as soy milk. Each of these liquids will bring a different flavor, protein amount, and thickness to your oatmeal.

Fruity oatmeal ingredients

Consistency can also be changed in several ways. You can decide the ratio you want to use when it comes to liquids versus oats. Cooking time can also be adjusted to influence consistency. The longer you cook the oatmeal for, the more of the liquid will evaporate, and the thicker the consistency will be. If you like more runny oatmeal, you can use a 3:1 ratio, or 1 cup of liquid and 1/3 of a cup of oats, as used in the recipes featured below. Turn off the heat on your stove when your oatmeal is about to hit the desired consistency. If you like your oatmeal thick and goopy, use a 2:1 ratio and let your oatmeal cook for longer until you can clearly see the individual oats. Be mindful that the nutritional value of your oatmeal changes as you are changing the oats to liquids ratio.


Old-fashioned oatmeal recipe with brown sugar

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of whole-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of butter

Directions

  1. Pour the milk in a sauce pan and warm it over medium heat. Stir occasionally and let it heat up until it starts to steam.
  2. Add the rolled oats and turn the temperature to low heat. Bring the oatmeal to a simmer. Stir occasionally and let the oatmeal cook until it is just about to hit the desired consistency.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the brown sugar and salt.
  4. Pour the oatmeal into a bowl and serve it warm with the tablespoon of butter on top.

Nutrition


Per serving: 351 calories; 34.1 g carbohydrates; 16 g sugars; 2.2 g dietary fiber; 18.5 g fat; 11 g saturated fats; 4.3 g monounsaturated fats; 1.4 g polyunsaturated fats; 11.8 g protein.


Contemporary fruity oatmeal recipe

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of 2% reduced-fat milk or dairy-free milk
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup berries of choice (fresh or frozen for an interesting temperature contrast)

Directions

  1. Mush up a banana with a fork and set aside.
  2. Pour the milk in a sauce pan and warm it over medium heat. Stir occasionally and let it heat up until it starts to steam.
  3. Add the rolled oats and turn the temperature to low heat. Bring the oatmeal to a simmer. Stir occasionally and let the oatmeal cook until it is just about to hit the desired consistency.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, mushed-up banana and berries.
  5. Serve warm.

Nutrition


Per serving: 337 calories; 55 g carbohydrates; 31.9 g sugars; 5.3 g dietary fiber; 5.9 g fat; 2.7 g saturated fats; 1.5 g monounsaturated fats; 1 g polyunsaturated fats; 13.5 g protein.


Captain’s dessert oatmeal recipe

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 tsp dried currants or raisins
  • 1 tsp dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup rum
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Pour the rum over the currants and cranberries and let them soak overnight. Take out the currants and cranberries by the handfuls, squeeze out the rum and set aside.
  2. Pour the milk in a sauce pan and warm it over medium heat. Stir occasionally and let it heat up until it starts to steam.
  3. Add the rolled oats and turn the temperature to low heat. Bring the oatmeal to a simmer. Stir occasionally and let the oatmeal cook until it is just about to hit the desired consistency.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum-soaked currants and cranberries, maple syrup, lemon juice and cinnamon.
  5. Serve warm.

Nutrition


Per serving: 316 calories; 48.6 g carbohydrates; 28 g sugars; 3.1 g dietary fiber; 5.8 g fat; 2.6 g saturated fats; 1.5 g monounsaturated fats; 1 g polyunsaturated fats; 12.4 g protein.


References:

  1. de Jong FM. Ons Voedsel. 5th ed. Hilversum: Fontaine uitgevers; 2015.
  2. NEVO online version 2019/6.0. Bilthoven: RIVM; 2013.
  3. Oats and the gluten-free diet. Celiac Disease Foundation; 2014 September 12. https://celiac.org/about-the-foundation/featured-news/2014/12/oats-and-gfd/

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