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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Perfect Steel-Cut Oatmeal (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

I am a breakfast junkie, it's true. I'd be cool eating breakfast all day long quite frankly. But 
most of all, there's nothing quite like warm oatmeal on a cool fall morning... or any morning, really. I eat oatmeal all throughout the year because I adore it so much! In fact, I post my oatmeal delights almost weekly on my Instagram. :-D One of my favorite things about this recipe is that if you're not serving more than 2 people including yourself, you'll have enough for leftovers! I am the leftover queen. 

Today's ingredient spotlight goes to...

• Steel-Cut Oats - Most people are familiar with the classic rolled oats from brands like Quaker. Due to the fact that they are highly processed as they are steamed, rolled, re-steamed, and toasted, it's likely that they lose some of their nutritional value. However, steel-cut oats are the least processed of all oats. Often referred to as Irish or Scottish oats, they come from whole grain groats and are cut by steel blades into smaller pieces instead of being flattened like rolled oats. The flattening process enables them to cook faster.

Steel-cut oats are high in fiber, calcium, protein, and B vitamins. Nutrition wise, rolled oats and steel-cut oats are very similar; the main difference is in the processing. It has also been said that steel-cut oats have a lower glycemic load, meaning that they do not cause a blood sugar spike and thus provide sustained energy and appetite and keep cravings at bay. 

According to this article written by Carol DiPirro, "one of the most significant health benefits of steel-cut oats is that they help eliminate fat and cholesterol from the body. Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220) consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. This is highly significant since each 1% drop in cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease." The soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance when consumed and binds to cholesterol to move fat and cholesterol out of the body. It also stabilizes blood sugar and promotes weight loss as it makes us feel fuller for a longer period of time. Fiber isn't digestible so it moves through our intestinal tract taking toxicity out with it. People with little fiber in their diets typically experience constipation, which can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis and colon cancer.

Regarding the texture and taste differences, steel-cut oats are chewier and nuttier than rolled oats. They also take longer to cook, about 20-30 minutes, which can be off-putting to some. To make it easier to enjoy steel-cut oats on the weekdays, I suggest cooking them on Sunday and saving the leftovers for the next day or two and just re-heat on the stovetop with up to a tablespoon of water or unsweetened almond milk. Or you can cook them overnight in a slow cooker or a crock-pot for 7-8 hours on the lowest setting. Just be sure to grease the bottom with a bit of coconut oil so the oats don't stick. Use 1 and 1/2 cups water and 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk with a pinch of sea salt. Add in what ever else you'd like.

I use Bob's Red Mill gluten-free steel-cut oats, which you can purchase at Whole Foods or other health food stores or online. Packaging always makes things more expensive and is less environmentally kind, so if you can, try to buy them in bulk at health food stores, because they're actually quite inexpensive. I see them at Whole Foods and Sprouts in the bulk aisle, but they never specify if they're gluten-free or not which is why I hesitate.

Also, I recommend soaking grains, as well as beans and nuts, overnight to reduce the amount of phytic acid in the grain, which has been said to inhibit mineral (calcium, zinc, iron, & copper) absorption and thus may cause mineral deficiencies and bone density loss if consumed in excess. Soaking also helps the grain to digest easier in the body. Apparently, traditional cultures used to soak (or sprout) grains before consuming them. With that said, there are many conflicting messages on this topic. Some say soaking in water actually causes the minerals and protein to leach from the grain, that phytase, the enzyme that breaks down the phytic acid, is actually beneficial in that it releases the stored nutrients in the body and makes them digestible, and that soaking really only removes about 10% of the phytic acid, which isn't enough to make a big difference. It has also been said that the phytic acid will be reduced during the cooking process. I still soak mine because I find they're easier to digest that way and allows for a shorter cooking time, but experiment and see what works best for you!

Steel-Cut Oatmeal

YIELD: 3-4 servings

• 1 cup gluten-free steel-cut oats, soaked overnight
• 3 cups water
• A pinch of sea salt
• 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
• Liquid stevia, to taste *I use 20 drops
• Topping suggestions: banana, goji berries, currants, raisins, blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, pecans, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, coconut sugar


1. In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Meanwhile, thoroughly rinse off soak water from the steel-cut oats.
2. Once the water is at a boil, add in the steel cut oats and a pinch of salt and bring back to a boil.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the oats are absorbing the water quickly, reduce the heat to the lowest setting. For chewier oats, cook less. For more done oats, cook more.
4. Mix in the almond milk and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

5. Take the pot off of the burner and mix in the stevia. Adjust taste as needed. I always start with a small amount and work my way up. I've learned you can always add more but can't take away. :-)
6. Serve with any toppings your heart desires! Store any leftovers in the fridge and enjoy over the next few days.

For the majority of the week, I usually drink a green smoothie first thing for breakfast. On those days, a serving of oatmeal is much smaller as opposed to mornings where I don't have the smoothie, so depending on your appetite and other breakfast you may be having, it can serve 3-4.

Let me know how you like it if you try it out! :-) Leave a comment or find me on Twitter or Instagram. Sending you love, light, good health, and good vibrations. <3

"Good things come to those who wait but the best things come to those who do." Unknown


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