Fearless Food: Oats

Today was the first day of fall and, if you live in Toronto, you definitely felt it. It was windy and cold, and I totally broke out my thigh-high leg warmers for my outdoor yoga class today. I know, I’m a classy dame.

When the cold starts to seep in, all I want for breakfast is oatmeal. It’s warm, it fills me up, and it’s just plain delicious. Before I share my favorite apple pie oatmeal recipe with you, here’s a few reasons why oats are fabulous:

  • They are high in fibre, which is great for digestion, blood sugar balance, and feeling full
  • They have a variety of minerals including manganese, selenium, magnesium (which is an important component of healthy bones), phosphorus, and zinc, which helps balance your appetite, fights acne, and can help keep depressive symptoms at bay
  • Oats help fight cardiovascular disease, and are the only source of the antioxidants known as avenanthramides

There are three main varieties of oats that people typically eat:

Quick Oats – the kind you usually buy in the Instant Oatmeal packages. As their name suggests, they cook quickly, but they are low in nutrients and have a higher glycemic index (they spike your blood sugar more, setting you up for a potential energy crash later)

Rolled Oats – or flaked oats are what most people picture when they picture oats. They take about 5-10 minutes to cook, have more nutrients intact, and are lower on the glycemic index

Steel Cut Oats – are whole oats, chopped into pieces. They have the full nutritional profile of the oat, meaning they are higher in vitamins and minerals, fibre, and protein (one cup has about 7g of protein) than the other two. They have the lowest glycemic index, but take about 20 minutes to cook

If you’re low on time in the mornings, but want the full benefit of steel cut oats, you can make a batch up in advance, and reheat in the morning. Cooked oats will keep in the fridge up to five days.

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to about oats, here’s my favorite breakfast:

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1/4 cup uncooked steel cut oats

1 cup water

-or-

1 cup cooked steel cut oats

1 apple (I use Granny Smith)

1 scoop (1-2 Tbsp) almond butter

Cinnamon

Maple Syrup

Bring water to a boil, then add steel cut oats and cinnamon to taste. Chop up your apple and add it to the mix. Reduce heat to just below the halfway mark (most recipes call this “medium”, but I never knew what that meant) and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. You may need to reduce the heat further, depending on your stove. You’ll know the oats are done when the water is mostly gone. Stir in the almond butter. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with real maple syrup. Enjoy!

If you are working with the pre-cooked oats, add the apple and cinnamon to a bit of boiling water to soften it, then add the pre-cooked oatmeal. It doesn’t need to cook long, just enough to warm it up. Follow the rest of the steps as above.

Apart from the cooking time, this recipe is pretty low-maintenance. It can take a while to figure out the cooking time on the oats, but keep at it. If you under-liquify it, add some more water or almond milk to the mix. If you over liquify, add some chia seeds. They’ll soak up the excess liquid and be a great addition to your breakfast.    

It really does taste like apple pie. Dessert for breakfast? Absolutely.

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