Guest Writer for Wake Up World
I have fond memories as a little girl of my mother cooking porridge (we called it oatmeal in the U.S.) mixed with freshly grated apple, cinnamon and milk. It was a warming dish that I and my family ate eagerly in the freezing winter mornings of my childhood home in Minnesota near the Canadian border.
We never questioned whether oats was a healthy food or not. We just trusted it was based on what farmers, food processors and our doctors and grandparents said. We were told and believed that the closer to nature our food was the better it was for you. And our oatmeal was a fine example of that.
Oats were considered a weed fit only to feed horses with back in ancient Rome. Even now, a very low percentage of oats is actually sold to feed humans. The bulk is used in feed for horses.
Saying that, oats can be a healthy option. But, as with everything, the more you process it the less healthy it becomes.
Oat groats is the whole grain with only the hull removed. Chop into smaller pieces and you have steel-cut oats.
Steam and flatten the groats and you have rolled or old-fashioned oats. Steam and flatten steel-cut oats and you have quick-cooking oats.
Instant oatmeal is rolled oats steamed and flattened and sometimes partially cooked. When it gets to that stage a lot of times it will also have salt, sugar, and in some cases artificial sweeteners added to it.
Russia is the leader in oat production but it is grown in many different countries with Australia and the United States producing 1.1 – 1.5 million tonnes each annually.
Magnesium, selenium, manganese and phosphorous are just some of the recognized nutrients in oats as well as them being a good source of vitamin B1 and dietary fiber.
Research has shown that oats are beneficial in treatment for Diabetes, weight loss, the lowering of cholesterol and also cardiovascular disease prevention. I don’t put an awful lot of weight on all the scientific research of this grain as I feel most food eaten in moderation and in as less processed a state as possible is going to be nutritionally beneficial to you. A large variety of organic, locally grown food is the key to good health. I met a guy once that read about how healthy oats was so he went out and bought a 50lb bag of rolled oats and ate it several times a day. That was weird, but then again so was he.
Conventionally grown oats has a dark side too. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program there are 6 pesticide Residues found in conventionally grown oat crops. They are Malathion, piperonyl butoxide, metolachlor, DDE p,p’, peopiconazole, and chlorpyrifos methyl. These pesticides have some or all of the following harmful characteristics, as a carcinogen, a hormone disruptor, and a neurotoxin, as well as being developmental and reproductive toxins.
There are varying amounts of research out there on each of the aforementioned pesticides but one I found interesting was a study that confirmed p,p’-DDE as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
I still love my oats. I use them in many of my recipes from pie crusts to cookies and filler in patties and savoury loaves. I always come back to my morning oatmeal though and have passed on that enjoyment to my kids who have found creative ways to eat them even in the warmer climate we reside in today. You can bet though that I only purchase organic oats for my family to eat. There smiling, trusting faces wouldn’t allow me to choose anything else.
Chocolate Oats – A breakfast favourite
Cooked organic oats (your favourite recipe)
1 cup organic coconut cream
1 tsp organic vanilla
1/4 cup organic coconut sugar (or agave syrup to taste)
1/4 cup organic cocoa or carob powder
Whisk the coconut cream, vanilla, sweetener and cocoa or carob powder in a small pan over a medium heat. Stir the sauce ingredients until smooth and heated through. Pour over your cooked porridge (oatmeal) and serve with or without sliced bananas.
Simple and Sweet Pie Crust
2 cups organic old fashioned oats
1 cup organic dates
Grind oats and dates in food processor until fine and crumbly. Mix in just enough water to bind. With wet hands, pat crust into prepared pan. May bake first at 180 degrees for 15 minutes if using a filling that will not go in oven.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
About the Author
Jeani-Rose Atchison is a health advocate, and home-schooling mother of five who also finds time to write about nutrition, whole foods and environmental concerns. She authored, Every Day Vegan – 300 recipes for healthful eating which is a mainstay in vegetarian kitchens. Atchison’s latest book, Food for Thought – Thought for Food is chock full of delicious whole food recipes. It also takes a controversial look at the food we eat today and the processes involved in bringing it to your table. Can your food make you ill? The answer may shock you!
To find out more go to Jeani-Rose’s Facebook or Website