The Scots have always liked their oats. And not just for breakfast. They’re used in the national dish, simple savoury delights such as skirlie, the ubiquitous oatcake, and brilliant puddings such as cranachan.
You could do worse than up your oat intake. They’re a great source of insoluble fibre which bulks up your stools (or poo if we’re being less medical, making your bowel motions regular) and research suggests that they can help lower blood cholesterol. By all means eat your porridge – a slow release carbohydrate which will help regulate your blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer- but do try other ways of incorporating them into your eating.
I always add oats to my smoothie mixes to bulk them out and increase the vitamin content (oats contain an amazing array of nutrients: manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, copper, biotin, vitamin B12, magnesium, fibre, chromium, zinc and protein) and they can be added to other things too. Oat meal has traditionally been used as a coating for herring, and the concept can be adapted to coat other offerings too.
I’ve recently discovered savoury porridge, which is a revelation. Not dissimilar to the polenta, used in Italy and South Africa, it can be used as a base for adding things to, but is delicious in its own right simply flavoured with bay and onion.
You might draw the line at Heston Blumenthal’s snail porridge, but I would urge you to give oats a bit more of a starring role than as a breakfast choice.
To make savoury porridge for two soak 80g of oats -or a combination of oats and oatmeal – for an hour, or overnight. Saute some onion in butter or oil, then add the oats with about 400 – 500 ml of stock (water and a stock cube or bouillion is fine) and some bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. You can serve this as a carb with meat or fish, or add cheese, herbs and vegetables and serve as a stand-alone dish.
Enjoy your oats – and feel free to share the ways you like to eat them.