Oats have been grown in Northern Europe for centuries. They were a staple grain for people living in the Nordics, Baltics, and Scotland, but were typically used as horse feed in England. This was pointed out (with a hint of distain) by an 18th century English writer, who defined oats as, “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” A prominent Scotsman at the time retorted by stating, “Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?” Touché!
Cheap, filling, easy to prepare, and typically served in a no-frills fashion, oatmeal is a humble food. But, as I’ve come to realize, humble food is often healthy food. And when it’s paired with a variety of fruit, nuts, or seeds, it can be quite tasty as well.
To me, oatmeal is a blank slate, and the toppings I decorate it with reflect the changing seasons. In the fall and winter, I’ll often top my oatmeal with chopped apples, cinnamon, and roasted pecans. In the spring and summer, fresh berries are a must. Other combinations can be concocted based on your preferences. Stir in a dollop of peanut butter with some sliced bananas. Sprinkle on some dried fruit, toasted coconut, or chopped walnuts. Whatever combination makes your mouth water.
This version is a red, white, and blue Fourth of July special. Enjoy!
- Oats are rich in fiber, specifically a type called beta-glucans, that when consumed, have been shown to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels, improve our immune function, feed our healthy gut bacteria, and increase satiety. Oats are also a good source of B vitamins and essential minerals, such as: manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
- Ground flaxseed contains the highest concentration of lignans in all of food. Lignans are plant-based, estrogen-like compounds that appear to protect against breast cancer and also serve as antioxidants. Ground flaxseed as a whole, is a good source of omega-3 fat, and when consumed regularly, can lower blood pressure.
- Berries are one of my top three evidence-based superfoods that can help prevent heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and many types of cancer.
- 1 cup of dried rolled oats
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed
- A splash of unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1 cup of berries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 small banana
- The night prior to consumption, mix the oats, flaxseed, and water in a microwave-safe bowl and set out to soak.
- The next morning, add a splash of plant-based milk, give the mixture a stir, and throw it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until it has thickened up. To ensure that it cooks evenly, give it a quick stir if/when the sides start to boil up (keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over the sides).
- Top with fresh berries (if you're using frozen berries, stir them in right away and put the whole thing back in the microwave for another minute) and sliced banana (or any other toppings you want).
Best enjoyed before a day of hiking while listening to The Clancy Brothers' "Will Ye Go, Lassie Go."