My oldest son claims not to be a breakfast eater, but every once in a while I catch him sneaking off with some pancakes from a serving plate while the other members of our family share weekend breakfast.
Most recently, he has requested oatmeal, maple syrup and brown sugar flavored. It was a chilly morning — cold by Mississippi standards — so the warm and filling mush hit the spot.
Some day, when he’s ready, we’ll dive into how versatile the whole-grain food really is.
Oats are nutritious and are supposed to help bring down cholesterol.
Oat groats, the most intact and whole form of oats, take a long time to cook. Steel-cut oat or old-fashioned oats take longer to cook than instant oats, but have a bit more of a texture when cooked.
While Quaker Oats now sells Lucky Charms- and Coco Puff-flavored oatmeal, I like adding an egg and maybe some cheese, spinach and tomato.
When I’m in a rush, I’ll just add my favorite spice blend — Tajin, a blend of lime, pepper and salt — for a bit of a kick.
Oats can be ground to make oat flour. It’s a naturally gluten-free option to wheat flour. Lighter than regular flour, it provides a soft, fluffy texture to baked goods.
Below are three recipes that feature oats in both savory and sweet recipes. The first — soft granola bars — is from Natasha Haynes, at Mississippi State Extension Service.
Filled with whole grains, dried fruit, and honey instead of sugar, the tasty treats keep me away from the vending machine or drive-through.
If you’ve never baked with chopped dates, you’re in for a treat! This naturally sweet fruit has a flavor similar to brown sugar and keeps your baked goods moist.
Haynes used locally grown pecans in the bars, but walnuts or slivered almonds also work.
The last two recipes offer savory ways to use oats. One dish — savory oat pilaf — makes oats the star, while the classic meatloaf just includes oats as a binding agent.
SOFT GRANOLA BARS
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups regular oatmeal
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins or chopped dates
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts
¼ cup honey
■ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 15½-by-10½-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set aside.
■ Crack eggs into a large bowl. Add brown sugar and vegetable oil, stirring until smooth.
■ Stir in the remaining ingredients, except honey.
■ Spread into the prepared pan.
■ Bake 17–22 minutes or until set. Cool.
■ In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook honey until heated through, stirring constantly. Drizzle honey on top of granola bars.
1-1/2 pounds ground beef (96% lean) or turkey breast (99% lean)
3/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats, cooked
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
■ Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
■ In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing lightly, but thoroughly.
■ Shape meatloaf mixture into 10 x 6-inch loaf on the rack of a broiler pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the meatloaf is medium doneness (160 degrees for beef, 170 degrees for turkey).
■ Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Cover and refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 2 days, or wrap airtight and freeze for up to 3 months.
SAVORY OAT PILAF
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup frozen sweet peas
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
Dash ground red pepper (cayenne)
Salt and pepper
■ In a 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes or until softened.
■ Add broth and water; heat to boiling. Gradually stir in oats. Using coarse side of grater, grate carrots into oat mixture. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 minutes or until the oats are soft and creamy.
■ Stir in peas. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peas are thoroughly heated.
■ Remove pilaf from heat. Stir in parsley, lemon peel and ground red pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.