Whether rolled, old fashioned or steel cut, oats are by no means a new food. We have, however, gotten more creative with how we serve up this healthy pantry staple.
Produced from a cereal grain (Avena sativa), oats make a smart choice to start your day because they're packed with energy-supplying nutrients. Oats contain an average of 4 g of fiber per serving to keep you feeling full and your digestive system moving, are low in calories and contain virtually no sugar. Oats are also a great source of protein to support lean muscle mass and a strong metabolism to burn more calories -- about 5 g per serving.
For all these reasons, oats are a smart choice any time of the day when you need a satisfying snack or meal that will sustain you, especially before a workout.
New Ways to Enjoy Oats
Now that you know the benefits of adding more oats to your diet, it's time to start cooking. These are our five favorite ways to use more oats in the kitchen:
1. Protein Balls
A hearty way to pack in the protein before hitting the gym, protein balls are delicious and convenient. For a basic batch, all you need is 1 cup rolled oats, 1 serving of protein powder (any flavor) and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Customize them with optional mix-ins like cacao powder, raw honey, nuts, dried fruit and seeds. Just mix, roll into bit-size balls and refrigerate until ready to eat.
2. Shake Mix-in
If you need a way to thicken a protein shake or smoothie, throw some steel cut oats into your blender right along with your other ingredients. You'll be adding fiber to keep you feeling satiated and your blood sugar stable for hours to keep you moving.
3. Healthy Crust
Everyone knows fried foods aren't good for you, but the crunchy texture is part of the reason they're so addictive. The next time you get the urge, try using oats to make a crust for your protein, like chicken. Combine oats (any style) with your desired herbs and seasonings in a food processor and blender and pulse for about 30 seconds to combine. You can lightly spray or brush chicken with olive oil or use egg then coat in the crust and bake until golden and crispy.
Making your own granola is a major money saver and allows you to really control what's in the mix. Snack on it plain, put it on yogurt -- whatever you want. Here's our favorite combination:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then spread into an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until golden brown.
5. Pancake Topping
Remember how oats give chicken a nice crunch? They can do the same thing for pancakes. After pouring your batter onto a hot skillet, sprinkle oats on the top before flipping. They toast and become golden brown and crunchy. You could also use the granola you made for some extra flavor.
Let us know your favorite way to enjoy oats and check back tomorrow for more of the latest health news and information.