‘OATS’ have a very special place in my life! A few years back when I was doing my Masters in Food science and Nutrition at University of Mysore, I had an opportunity to carry out my research work at Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) in Mysore. My research project was based on Oats. At that time (ten years back!) oats was not as popular as it is now in India and hence, those involved in research work were curious to know about the research outcome. An attempt was made to incorporate oats into chapathi. The reason for selecting chapathi was simple, as it is widely prepared across India, incorporation of oats into it might help in future extension of the idea from lab to field. A positive response was obtained through various tests that were conducted on the product and also on the stored product. (And finally I passed my Msc with a First rank and a Gold medal too!).
Now that the flash back is over, let me come to point! Oats became popular due to its beneficial nutritional properties related to soluble fiber and protein composition. As a cereal grain it is one of the oldest crops cultivated by mankind. A great amount of research has also been reported on health benefits of Oats in humans. The gross chemical composition of Oats is characterized by high carbohydrate/primary starch content, considerable protein, non-starch/dietary fibre, and vitamin and mineral content. Oats contain higher amounts of lipids/oil and fibre than other cereals.*
Rolled Oats, the chief product of oatmeal is used for breakfast food, cookies, bread and pudding. Oat flour, a by-product of rolled oats manufacture, is used in prepared breakfast foods. Oats have been used as a source of natural antioxidants.* (too much information? never mind go on…there is more to come!)
A great amount of research has been reported on health benefits of Oats in humans in terms of its cholesterol lowering effects and its antioxidant property in quenching free radicals. Oat bran is a palatable cereal, which is rich in water-soluble fibre, which is known to have hypocholesterolemic effects. Oats, in varies forms may also have beneficial effects on glucose and insulin responses.*
Ok, knowing so much about oats theoretically, in Indian conditions how do we include oats in our diet? Oats porridge?? (Personally, I hate eating oats porridge in spite of knowing and praising the goodness of oats! oats are not tasty!!!!) But, if you like oats porridge then, this could be included in your meal easily.
If not oat porridge then..…oat cookies?!! (Sounds delicious, but I cannot bake cookies often! So, this can hardly get to be in my menu once in a month or once in two months!. What are my next options then?? )
Including oats on a daily basis in Indian breakfast foods without any extra time dedicated to it and yet, get all the goodness of oats!!(I know, I am sounding greedy!) Seriously, think over it, preparing breakfast itself is a huge task early in the morning!! (Specially, after hearing a Nutritionist say ‘do not skip breakfast’.. I am really getting tired preparing it every day!!! 😉 plus an additional attempt to include oats keeping in mind the dish has to taste good?! OMG!!
Does this look like a big challenge? Then, let me share with you some tips to incorporate oats in your meals. While preparing chapathi, add oat flour (grind oat flakes in mixer grinder and store it in an air tight jar!) and prepare the dough. This will give you soft chapattis/phulkas. (Yeah, I heard it, you already knew this! ok then, let me try the next one!)
While preparing Thalipattu or akki roti, add oat flakes along with onion, chopped coriander leaves, green chillies, curry leaves, salt and jeera. Try the same method with ragi flour; mix the flour with warm water to form a dough for better texture of rotis.
Upma can also be made with whole and sole oats but if you do not like the mouth feel then try adding oat flakes along with roasted rava. A fist full of oat flakes can go into a kadai while making Kanda poha too.
Add oat flour to dosa batter to prepare dosas. This batter can also be used to make phaddu or Gunta Punugulu. Green gram dosa or pesarattu can also be prepared by adding oat flour.
These are some of the easiest way in which oats can be used in day to day life. . An attempt has been made here to include Indian breakfast foods so that it can be included in your diet easily. The aim was to find out if oats can be hidden in a dish with a challenge that it does not overpower the original taste and flavor of a dish. (Mission accomplished!!)
The amount of oats added can range from 20-30grams/100 grams of a raw ingredient you are selecting. For eg, if you are trying to make chapathis, then add 2tbsp of oats to 100 grams of wheat flour. (OK, I heard that too…who will measure it always!! Let me make it easy; add a fist full of oats to the raw ingredient while preparing a dish. This will give two servings of final product. (Now, to make it easier, I will have to serve you the dish!). You can always increase the amount of oats added, if the change in texture and flavor does not bother you much. Give it a try. Trial and error basis works always. Plan and include oats in various other dishes that are prepared for lunch and dinner (eg, Bisi bele bhath!). Oats are not tasty…but can always be made tastier 🙂
*Studies from various scientific research journals/books have been referred