Oats are a unique grain, in that they almost never have their bran and germ removed during processing. These two components of a whole grain seed contain important nutrients such as antioxidants, B vitamins, fats, and some protein. In order for a whole grain to stay whole, it must have its bran and germ intact at all times. Oats contain a special fiber called beta-glucan that has been found to be effective in lowering cholesterol. Other research has shown that oats have a certain antioxidant, avenanthramide, which helps protect blood vessels from damage. Not to mention the benefits of the fiber they contain for your digestive system — there are few Americans who don’t need more fiber in our diets!
Most people I know go through phases of having oats in their diet regularly, usually involving having oatmeal for breakfast. While there are plenty of ways to be creative with your morning oats, I personally need plenty of nuts, chia seeds, and yogurt in mine to keep me full through the morning-otherwise I am starving within the hour of a bowl of plain oatmeal.
Here are 5 ways to add more healthy, good-for-you oats to your diet, other than oatmeal:
- Grind up oats to make oat flour to add to baked items, substituting small amounts for regular flour.
- Peanut butter, chia oat energy balls are easy and delicious, even for kids. Find several recipes HERE.
- Overnight oats are a unique take on morning oatmeal: mix oats, yogurt, chia seeds, and fresh or frozen fruit together, then add some liquid such as orange juice or water or milk. Let the mixture sit overnight in the fridge and it will be soft and ready to eat instantly. This is a great on-the-go-breakfast with endless variations. Find an example recipe HERE.
- Soak the oats in water or milk and add to your favorite pancake mix.
- You can even make oats into a savory dish, adding eggs and veggies! Find some inspirational examples HERE.