supercharge your oatmeal for gut health & the environment

A while ago, I wrote a post about how to make the best gut healing oatmeal and, believe it or not, it’s the most popular post on the BARE. blog! I guess there are lots of oat lovers out there, just like me.

Things have changed a little since then, and I’ve experimented with way more combos (and so have many food bloggers). Oats are here to stay: they’re cheap, filling and super versatile. I’ve experimented with soaking and making my morning porridge even more digestible. I’ve made savoury porridge. And all the while, I’ve been finding ways to make oats a sustainable and planet friendly dish.

Oats are really fabulous if you live somewhere wet (check) and dreary in the winter months, where not much produce is grown (check). It’s also great if you’re vegan/vegetarian (almost check!) and like a bargain (check). And well – oats are recommended by many heart and diabetes associations, as well as being routinely recommended to boost fibre intake. In conclusion, we should all be consuming oats.

So, whether you already enjoyed my previous post or not, here are 5 further ways to supercharge your oats and be even kinder to your body and the planet!

soak overnight with lemon juice

Well it wouldn’t be my blog if we weren’t talking about good ol’ digestion. Oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. The former absorbs water and lubricates your digestive tract, whereas the latter adds bulk and speed. In other words, you should be expecting better digestion. However, if you’re prone to bloating, there’s more you can do: soaking. It’s really simple – just add 2 parts liquid (water or milk!) and 1 part oats to a bowl and soak in the fridge overnight. You can add chia seeds for an extra fibre boost. And adding a squeeze of lemon before soaking reduces the amount of phytic acid in the oats, which may prevent your body from producing digestive enzymes. Some people claim it helps with bioavailability.

top with frozen berries (instead of fresh)

Blueberries on a steaming bowl of porridge are just phenomenal. They bring the perfect amount of sweetness and tartness. But I’m not keen on buying fruit that comes all the way from South America for my breakfast. Instead, I try to find local fruit (i.e. British raspberries), which is sometimes hard to come by. Did you know that frozen fruit is generally picked when ripe and frozen straight away? It won’t only taste better, it actually makes way more sense for the environment to eat fruit that was picked seasonally. Not to mention you can make a delicious saucy stewed berry topping by defrosting them in a pan whilst your oats cook. Or make chia jam. Up to you!

turn leftovers into pancakes

Unconventional to say the least, but I used to eat oatmeal pancakes all the time when I was younger. The recipe called for eggs, oats, flour and milk; they were like little pillows of porridge fried in a pan. It is not uncommon for me to be too ambitious at breakfast and make too much porridge. But I don’t want to waste my perfectly soaked oats, so I put them back in the fridge (cooked) and combine them with a simple pancake batter the next day: an egg, a couple of tablespoons of flour, a couple of dollops of porridge, and you’ve got yourself a quick pancake batter! If you want measurements, try this recipe.

BYOO* to reduce waste

*Bring Your Own Oats

In my highlighted stories on instagram, you’ll find a section called ‘oats of the day’. Many a times, if I’m getting an early morning train or decide to work from a coffeeshop, you’ll find me bringing my own breakfast instead of buying it on the go (even though Pret’s coconut and quinoa porridge is freaking delish). This is not just saving you money, but also lots of packaging and waste. And especially for oatmeal, which is so easy and cheap to make at home. I use an old jar (a Whole Earth peanut butter glass jar works very well) and cook my porridge in the microwave as I would regularly, then pack it with a bamboo spoon to eat later! It stays warm for about an hour, and makes for a nice little hand warmer on the train.

peanut butter is not the only topping

It seems that many people are put off by the idea of adding peanut or other nut butters to a bowl of porridge. Some people just don’t like it (despite what instagram might have you think!). There are lots of other ways to spruce up your breakfast that are tasty, healthy and planet-friendly:

  • Seasonal and local fruit; e.g. in the UK, apples, raspberries, strawberries…
  • Locally made jams and honey;
  • Yoghurt (dairy or not), made locally;
  • Nuts and seeds that are more eco-friendly, such as Brazil nuts and hazelnuts (avoid almonds and walnuts, grown in China and California, which require lots of water!)

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