Steel-cut oats are a great start to any morning. They are high in protein and fibre, making them a long-lasting breakfast providing sustained energy all morning.
Healthy alternative to pancakes! Good source of protein! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate on my bold statements. Nutrition Science is an interesting field in that it is ever evolving and recommendations are continuously being improved upon. One area that is under review is our current daily protein recommendations. We won’t know for a while, but there is some speculation that they are about to be increased. Nevertheless, following a plant-based diet can sometimes leave some of us a bit short on our protein needs – so no better place to start improving on this than with breakfast. This recipe for Simple Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana offers 15g of protein per serve, which can get you well on your way to meeting your daily protein requirements.
“Steel-cut oats are higher in fibre and protein compared to traditional rolled oats, with 8g of fibre and 10g of protein 1/2 cup raw serve.”
Current protein recommendations are 0.8g of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. For the average women this may be around 50-60g and for men 60-70g. There are many factors that determine if a higher protein intake is required including age (muscle synthesis decreases with age), activity level, and health status. If you would like to figure out your exact protein requirements speak to a Registered Dietitian or another healthcare professional. For most people, aiming for at least 15-20g of protein per meal is a good start.
Benefits of Steel-Cut Oats
Due to their longer cooking time steel-cut oats make an ideal make-ahead breakfast. Make a big batch of them on a Sunday night and have breakfast ready for the rest of the week. Steel-cut oats will stay good for a week in the fridge. They taste great cold or re-heated; simply double the below recipe and add more milk or milk alternative in the morning to thin it out.
Low Glycemic Index
Steel-cut oats are the least processed type of oat. The groats, which is the whole grain that includes the germ and fibre-rich bran portion, as well as the endosperm (which is the usual product of milling), are simply hulled, toasted and then chopped into 3-4 little sections. Their larger surface area takes longer to break down, making them a slow release of energy compared to regular oats which can be broken down more quickly.
Rolled oats, are also considered a low glycemic index food. These are oat groats that have been steamed and flattened. The partial cooking process and increase in processing increase the glycemic index compared to steel-cut oats. Instant oats are partially cooked and cut even smaller, making them a medium glycemic index food.
Oats and Cholesterol
Oats are one of the best sources of the fibre β-glucan which are known for their cholesterol-lowering abilities. A recent analysis found that an intake of oat β-glucan at daily doses of at least 3 grams might reduce plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 5-10% (1).
Oats and Gut Health
Resistant starch is well known for it’s role in gut health. Good gut health has been linked to better immune function, and could possibly play a role in diabetes and obesity prevention. Resistant starch is present in cooked and cooled oats, as well as cooled potato and rice, and hot legumes and barley. A diet high in resistant starch has been found to increase populations of friendly bacteria in the gut (2). So eating your leftover oatmeal cold may increase this beneficial fibre, another reason to plan ahead!
Steel-cut Oats and Protein
Steel-cut oats can help us meet our daily protein needs. A half-cup serving of steel-cut oats contains 10g of protein, where a 1/2 cup serving of traditional oats contains 7g. Protein is important for muscle synthesis, immune function, blood sugar stabilization and overall good health. The addition of peanut butter and organic soymilk or homemade hemp milk (see Simple Hemp Milk recipe) help boost the protein content even further.
Tips On Making Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats take at least 20-30 minutes to cook. At 20 minutes I find they are nice and tender, but if you go the extra 10 minutes this is where the creamy oatmeal begins to form. The longer the cooking time, the thicker your oatmeal will be.
Hate the thought of stirring the pot? Bring one part oats to three parts liquid to the boil, cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat and leave to sit overnight. Your oats will be ready in the morning, no stirring required.
No Sugar Needed
I love adding mashed banana to my steel-cut oats in place of sugar, honey or maple syrup. If you choose to omit the mashed banana, try adding 1/2 tsp of unpasturised honey, or real maple syrup, but of which have a lower glycemic index then regular sugar or cane sugar.
Want More High Protein Breakfast Recipes
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Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana
This a great way to start your day. Filled with food sources of protein to help get your metabolism going in the morning. Double the recipe so you will have breakfast pre-prepared for those busy work weeks.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk or fortified milk alternative unsweetened
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats uncooked
- pinch sea salt
- 1 banana* frozen
- 2 tbsp peanut butter natural
- 1 tbsp raw honey raw / unpasteurized
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
- 1 tbsp flaxseed flaxseed (option to grind)
Bring water and milk or milk alternative to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Once boiling, add the steel-cut oats and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low.
In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add it to the oats. Continue to cook on a reduced heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, making sure to stir often. If you want a creamier texture, let cook for an additional 10 minutes.
You know the oats are finished when they are nice and creamy. Remove them from the heat and add the peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and flax. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is well blended.
This dish is great as leftovers for the following morning. Simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. In the morning add a splash of milk or milk alternative and eat cold or reheated.
*I prefer frozen banana because as they are much sweeter, and always available in my household. A very ripe, non-frozen banana would do just fine as well.
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup in place of honey.
Add more protein: Add 2 tbsp of hemp hearts per serving.
Make it gluten-free: Check for certified gluten-free oats.
Make it 50% raw: Add 1/4 cup of raw nuts and fresh berries.
Consider food miles: Use Canadian grown oats. Omit the banana and replace with apple, pear or berries.
2) Tanja V. Maier, Marianna Lucio, Lang Ho Lee, Nathan C. VerBerkmoes, et al. (2017). Impact of Dietary Resistant Starch on the Human Gut Microbiome, Metaproteome, and Metabolome. American Society for Microbiology