25 March 2010

Oats, Oats, Oats...

I've recently rediscovered the versatility of oats.  Although I always enjoyed oatmeal cookies, granola, oat bread, and the occasional bowl of breakfast oatmeal, it wasn't really until cooking through some of the recipes in the February 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times (in which there was a piece devoted to oats) that I came to really appreciate and enjoy its various applications.  I actually eat oatmeal for my post-run breakfast each morning, and haven't yet burned out.

This is what a typical bowl of oatmeal looks like for me.  It is composed of cracked oats (the texture is like that of steel cut oats but with the cooking time of rolled oats); half of a banana that has been microwaved for around 30 seconds, in order to soften it and add more sweetness, then mashed; two chopped Deglet Noor dates (firmer, smaller than, and not as sweet as Medjool); a sprinkling of any assortment of chopped, toasted nuts (usually pecans, but sometimes involving walnuts or almonds or all three); a few dashes of cinnamon; and just enough unsweetened, nondairy milk to thin it out a little bit.  Sometimes I chop up the other half of the banana.  I no longer add brown sugar, maple syrup, or any other sweetener, because I like the mild sweetness from having just the cooked, mashed banana and dates.  Also, the date flavor combined with the toasted nuts tastes praline-like, but without the added sugar!

The other day, I threw another oat-banana combination together by making Susan's recipe for Banana-Maple Oatmeal Cookies.  They turned out soft but with some texture from the oats and raisins, and not too sweet, which I liked.  The only thing I did differently was replace about half of the whole wheat flour called for with oat flour, and I may actually replace all of the wheat with oat flour next time around, to make it extra oat-y.  I liked the idea of using a cookie cutter to make different shapes, which I've never done for drop-style cookies like these, so maybe next time I'll try that, too.

For some time now, I've been considering giving homemade granola bars a shot, but I was always hesitant due to so many recipes seeming oil- or sugar-laden.  But Meeps recently posted a very easy and practically oil-free recipe for Nutty Oat Bars that looked so simple and tasty that I had to try it immediately.  The recipe didn't call for them, but I added a pinch of salt and maybe a half teaspoon of cinnamon.  I am pretty sure now that measuring out the nuts I used (chopped walnuts, pecans, and almonds) probably would have lead to my attempt resulting more successfully than it actually did.  After having toasted everything in a pot on the stove (no oven necessary, which is pretty fantastic) and then mixing it all with the melted brown rice syrup, I thought the mixture looked a bit crumbly, but figured that I just needed to let it solidify a bit in the pan.  It turns out that I was right, and my heavy hand with the nuts cost me what could have been handy granola bars; when I turned out the mixture onto a board and tried to cut it, the granola cracked in all the wrong places.  But all was not lost, because I proceeded to simply forgo the impossible dream of having neat little bars and instead be happy with granola chunks, which were, as you can imagine, very easy to create at that point.  And I love it!  I still have plenty of the stuff around, and it is such an addicting snack that it's sure to disappear soon.  Cheers for happy accidents!

I will eventually try to make proper granola bars, but I'm also looking for different ways of using rolled or cracked oats, as I've always got them around.  All of the aforementioned uses required no refined sugar, which is pretty awesome, because they all resulted in something with sufficient sweetness anyway.  Perhaps bean and oat burgers are in order--something savory would be a nice change.  If anyone has suggestions, or wants to share a favorite way of eating oats (sweet or savory...or both), please feel free to let me know; I always appreciate your input, and I love trying new applications for old favorites.  Thanks!

6 comments:

  1. I love oatmeal! I ate it every day in December and January...I need to step it up again :)

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  2. I love oats! I used to think oats were kinda boring when I first started blogging, but seeing other people's oat posts (and discovering steel cut oats) opened up a whole new world. Now I love to eat my steel cut oats with PB and Ricemallow Cream. Best thing ever!!

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  3. Yum, I see so many awesome oatmeal posts- I really need to start thinking up some delicious oatmeal creations! :)

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  4. I love oats very much! Of course I have some oatmeal every day, but I also love oats in savoury things.

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  5. Your bowl of oatmeal looks heavenly! I love the use of dates and banana - I'm sure its plenty sweet enough. I'm gonna have to seek out those cracked oats - cuz I just don't have the time for steel cut most mornings. On another note, I have a pet turtle named Oats, and she is awesome!

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  6. Your bowl of oatmeal looks heavenly! I love the use of dates and banana - I'm sure its plenty sweet enough. I'm gonna have to seek out those cracked oats - cuz I just don't have the time for steel cut most mornings. On another note, I have a pet turtle named Oats, and she is awesome!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)