This must be one of my favorite recipes. Ever. Seriously, the flavor in this savory oatmeal bowl, loaded with lots of veggies and drizzled with that crazy good miso tahini sauce is so incredibly satisfying, I could eat this every-single-day. This time, I made it with shredded kale, finely diced butternut squash, avocado and sprouts, because that’s what I had on hand. But sometimes, when I’m particularly hungry, I may also add cooked chickpeas, or sautéed tempeh, or even a little roasted chicken for extra protein. The bowl also fares well with a myriad of different veggies and could be topped with seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or hemp for extra flavor. Try it, and let me know what you think.
A word about oats.
Last week, I was talking with my dad, and he was mentioning that he hadn’t had oatmeal in a long time, and that he was really, really craving it, so did I have a good recipe? “You know, he said, the kind we ate back then, the instant kind drenched with cream and brown sugar”?
– “Dad” I replied, “not to be a party pooper, but instant oatmeal is usually pretty junky, and highly processed. It’s really better to cook oat groats instead. They haven’t been tampered with, and, you’ll see, they’re actually tastier, and certainly much, much healthier. The only drawback is that they take longer to cook than instant, but that only means that you need to plan a little ahead of time”.
“I’ve never heard of oat groats” he said. “What the heck is that?”.
So, for anyone who might be interested, here is a short summary of the different kinds of oats that one might find in a grocery store:
- Oat Groats: the least processed form of oats. They are basically the whole grain, with only the hull removed. The bran (rich in fiber) is left intact, as well as the germ.
- Steel Cut Oats (also known as Irish Oatmeal): steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into smaller pieces with a sharp metal blade. Unlike rolled oats, they have not been steamed and rolled. Some of the bran of the grain is removed through the process of cutting, so steel cut oats are slightly less nutritious and more processed than whole oat groats, but it is pretty close to the whole grain. And unlike oat groats, they cook in about half the time, which makes them appealing for people who are short on time.
- Rolled Oats (or Old Fashioned Oats): More processed than steel cut oats, rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed and then literally “rolled” or flattened, with most of the bran discarded. Then, they are steamed again, and finally toasted, after which they will retain their newfound flat shape. Rolled oats cook much quicker than steel cut oats, so many people prefer the convenience, but they are less nutritious, and certainly lower in fiber than the whole grain.
- And then, there is also: instant oatmeal (where the bran of the oats is removed, and the oats have been rolled out even thinner and steamed for longer than rolled oats, allowing for instant cooking but a lot less nutrition; most instant oatmeal is highly processed and also loaded with additives and sugars); Scottish oatmeal (similar to steel cut oatmeal, but the oat groats have been stone ground into smaller pieces instead of cut with a steel blade – some people believe this gives them a more earthy texture); oat flour (ground from milled oats); oat bran (which, as the name implies, is the bran, or the outside layer, of the seed. It is not a whole grain but a good source of fiber and plant protein, nonetheless).
In general, oats are a very nutritious grain. Loaded with fiber, minerals and many vitamins, they help stabilize blood sugar levels and certainly make for a nourishing and satisfying meal.
One of the issues with oats, and the reason not everyone can enjoy them with abandon, is that they have a high phytic acid content.
Phytic acid, if you remember, is also known as inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), or phytate, and is present in most grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. The problem with phytic acid is that it can bind to minerals in the body and block their absorption. That is not so good.
However, there are several steps that we can take to reduce the phytic acid content in food: soaking, fermenting or sprouting. Soaking, which is the method I use most often, is a really simple way of helping make our foods more nutritious. All we have to do is remember to do it.
Yes, soaking takes planning. No, it does not take much active time. You basically add the grains/nuts/seeds, etc. to a bowl, cover with water and a dash of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar (which helps further release phytic acid), and then forget it for a few hours.
It’s really not hard.
What about gluten in oats? Oats do not naturally contain gluten. However, most oats in the US contain trace amounts of gluten, as they are most often processed in facilities that also process wheat. Moreover, oats contain avenin, a protein which is similar to gluten, so people who are allergic or intolerant to gluten often cannot process oats. If gluten is a concern for you, always look for certified gluten-free oats and certainly check with your doctor whether or not you should simply steer clear of oats.
For this bowl, I like to dice my butternut squash in pretty small pieces – they cook very fast this way and look prettier, as well. Shred the kale thinly, and only cook it until it becomes bright green and soft, no more.
As for the sauce, well. You’re most likely going to want to drizzle massive amounts of it on just about everything savory. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You might want to double the amount when you make it… just sayin’.
Love and health!
- 2 cups oat groats, soaked for 12-24 hours
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth (or water)
- 4 cups finely diced butternut squash (from one small)
- 6 kale leaves, center vein removed, shredded
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 avocados
- sprouts, for garnish
- coconut oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/3 cup parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño (optional)
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon (or lime) juice
- black pepper, to taste
- Drain and rinse the oats.
- Add the broth (or water) and a couple generous pinches of sea salt to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the oats, and stir a couple of times.
- Cover, and turn down the heat. Allow the oats to gently simmer until soft and the broth has been absorbed, about 50 minutes.
- Add the garlic, parsley, water, jalapeño, miso, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice to a mini food processor or blender. Process on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- When the oatmeal is cooked, turn off the heat and set aside. It should still be hot by the time you serve. If it is not, reheat gently right before serving.
- Preheat a large sauté pan or wok on medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil and add the butternut squash with a couple tablespoons water. Allow to cook, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes. Season with a couple pinches of sea salt, and black pepper, to taste.
- About a minute before the squash is cooked, add the kale and allow to wilt, stirring often. Turn off the heat.
- Slice the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh, then chop into bite size pieces.
- Separate the oatmeal into 4 bowls. Top with the squash, kale, green onions, avocado and sprouts. Drizzle on the sauce, to taste.
- Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side.