Say oatmeal and many people will cringe in horror at how bland it tastes. To the uninitiated, oatmeal and oats certainly look unappetizing. But did you know oats can taste down right fantastic when given a little culinary love? Here are 5 ways to turn this nutritionally dense whole grain into one of your favorite ingredients and meals.
But first, why eat oats in the first place? Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth. They’re a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits, which include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. Oats are also a whole grain with a low glycemic load, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar or impair your insulin levels like a simple slice of bread will (white and wheat bread have a higher glycemic load than a tablespoon of sugar).
Here are 9 researched health benefits of eating oats:
- Are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Oats are rich in carbs and fiber, but also higher in protein and fat than most other grains. They are very high in many vitamins and minerals.
- Contain many powerful antioxidants, including avenanthramides, which may help reduce blood pressure and provide other benefits.
- Are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, promotes healthy gut bacteria and increases feelings of fullness.
- Can lower the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and protecting LDL cholesterol from damage.
- Can improve blood sugar control.
- Oatmeal may help you lose weight by making you feel more full.
- Helps treat dry and itchy skin and may help relieve symptoms of various skin conditions, including eczema.
- May decrease the risk of childhood asthma.
- May help relieve constipation.
Oats are powerhouses thanks to their nutritional load and health benefits. To reap all these benefits, we should learn to love eating our oats. With the following tips, you’ll more than love digging into a bowl of oatmeal or baking up a storm with oats.
Here are 5 ways to love your oats.
#1 – Sweeten With Honey
I’m not a big fan of added sugars but honey is one of the easiest and most loved ways of sprucing up oats and oatmeal. Stir honey into your oatmeal and you’ve suddenly got a lip-smacking treat. Locally grown honey is best because then you’ll be helping your immune system adapt to local allergens.
Other natural sweeteners include maple sugar and agave. Steer clear of processed syrups or artificial sweeteners. We want to boost our health, not destroy it. Otherwise why eat oats in the first place?
#2 – Soak With Flavor
Many directions for making oatmeal include adding water. Talk about bland! You can use milk, nut milks, coconut milk and even juice in place of water for a flavorful taste. I’m a fan of almond milk but when I first switched to oatmeal, I used a 1 to 1 ratio of water and apple juice. The added flavor by substituting out the water is awesome.
#3 – Butter Up
Oats and peanut butter work well together. If you’re not into peanut butter, you can use almond butter, sunflower seed butter, chocolate almond butter — whatever you want! It makes oatmeal creamier and flavorful, and it’s a great substitute for something more sugary.
#4 – Dress Up Your Oats
For great-tasting and hearty oatmeal, add berries or your favorite fruit. Throw in a handful of nuts and seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon. You’ve just made a delicious, filling and super nutritious breakfast. For something decadent, stir in a teaspoon of pure cocoa powder. Now dig in!
#5 – Use ‘Em Like Flour
Oats are highly versatile, especially the rolled and steel cut varieties. Oats make a wonderful replacement for nutritionally dead flour, especially in muffins, cookies, pancakes, granola bars, and other baked goods. Oatmeal banana pancakes are delicious and filling, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies are lovely treats, homemade granola goes well on many breakfasts or as a snack, and you can make an endless variety of dessert or health bars with oats.
A Bowl of Health
There you have it – 5 ways to make oats taste fantastic. But don’t stop there with the ideas. Get creative and you’ll find a fun variety of ways to enjoy oats, whether they are steel cut, rolled or instant. For best nutrition, stay away from the added sugars and the ultra-processed versions that will spike your blood sugar and which come riddled with more chemicals than oats.
Oats are densely nutritious by themselves but also a great vehicle for other nutritionally dense foods like fruit, nuts and seeds. Oats are also versatile so enjoy cooking with them and exploring new healthy recipes that will more than sate your taste buds and tummy. Your health and renewed energy levels will thank you.
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