I had the chance to visit the Flahavan’s mill in Ireland and learn all about humble oats. If you haven’t heard of Flahavan’s, they are a family-run Irish brand who have been milling oats for over 200 years. I was made to feel like one of the family during my visit – I even had afternoon tea in John and Mary Flahavan’s home!
It was lovely to get to see how oats are harvested, stored, and made into the different types from steel-cut to jumbo to rolled oats. The Flahavan’s family really know their oats and mill them in a way that creates a beautifully creamy taste and texture. Whilst in Ireland we were treated to delicious lunches that showcased the different ways to cook with oats. Keep reading to be inspired to think beyond porridge with four easy healthy breakfast recipes.
The benefits of oats
Oats are a great option for a healthy breakfast as they are:
- High in fibre which keeps you regular for a healthy digestion
- A complex and slow-releasing carbohydrate, stabilising your blood sugars and keeping your energy levels consistant
- Low in fat and high in protein, which is why it’s a great choice for aiding weight loss
- Rich in the fibre beta-glucan which helps to lower cholesterol
- A wholegrain cereal and studies have shown people with greater wholegrain intake have a lower risk of heart disease
The different types of oats
Whilst at the Flahavan’s mill I was shown the different types of oats and learned how they are made from field to plate. Did you know, all types of oats are made from the same crop? It is just the way the crop is treated which creates the differences in the types of oats.
Groats – When you remove the outer husk of the oat you are left with groats. Groats are nutritious but tough to chew so are often soaked before cooking. You can use these in things like soups and slow-cooker oats.
Steel-cut Oats – Also known as pinhead oats are simply groats cut into smaller pieces. Steel-cut oats have a nuttier taste and are chewier than other types and take a long time to cook. Because steel-cut oats are less processed they have a lower GI than rolled oats for example, but nutritionally are practically identical.
Jumbo Rolled Oats – The oat groats are steamed to soften them and then flattened/rolled into the flat oat flakes we’re all probably more familiar with. Jumbo rolled oats make are great for muesli, crumble and a more textured porridge.
Rolled Oats – These are the more common porridge oats. Rolled oats are Steel-Cut Oats which are then steamed and rolled into oat flakes that are smaller than Jumbo Rolled Oats. Rolled Oats make great porridge oats as they are softer and quicker to cook. They’re also great for baking things like flapjacks, biscuits and muffins.
Instant Oats – These are pre-cooked then dried before being steamed and rolled into Instant Oats. Because of this they are the quickest to cook but have the least amount of texture when made into porridge. These are ideal for cooking quickly in a microwave when you need breakfast in a hurry, but personally I prefer rolled oats and find they also cook quickly in a microwave.
Oat flour – This is simply oats that are finely ground into a flour. Oat flour is used for baking and is a great gluten-free alternative to other flours. You can also easily make your own oat flour at home by blending oats.
Easy Oats-Based Recipes
Apple Pie Porridge
I love this porridge as it tastes more like a dessert than breakfast. It really tastes like the filling of an apple pie. Flahavan’s oats are perfect for this recipe because of their naturally creamy texture. This recipe is one from Flahavan’s vast collection of recipes and is a quick way to get that apple pie taste into your porridge. However, if you have some more time then I recommend cooking this porridge on the stove over a mid-low heat, using almond milk instead of apple juice for an even creamier texture and adding diced apple into the porridge as it cooks. If you have any nutmeg in the cupboard then use that instead of the cinnamon. Slice half an apple on top for extra yumminess and voilà, porridge that tastes like apple pie! I like to make the Flahavan’s quick recipe during the week when I’m pushed for time and create my version at the weekend.
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Blueberry and Coconut Baked Oatmeal
This is one of my own recipes that I have recently rediscovered and fallen in love with all over again. Baked oatmeal is a Godsend during busy weeks as you can make this ahead at the weekend and keep it in the fridge ready to grab-and-go in the mornings. Stored in an air-tight container and a batch of this lasts around 4-5 days in the fridge so should see you through the working week. Not only is it super convenient but it has more of a cakey texture than regular porridge, so again is like having dessert for breakfast. You can eat this hot or cold, I personally like to heat it up and serve with a splash of almond milk or a dollop of coconut yogurt. It’s so easy to make and it means I don’t have to worry about breakfast Monday to Friday!
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Jumbo Oats Granola
Ohhh granola. It’s so delicious, smells great when it’s cooking and is so versatile. Have a bowlful of the stuff with milk, or sprinkle it over fruit and yogurt, the world is your oyster. The only problem is, most of the store-bought versions are packed with sugar. By making your own you can control the sugar content. This granola is another from the Flahavan’s recipe collection and it makes a huge batch. Seriously huge. I cut this recipe in half and I still have loads of granola. I didn’t have the required amount of honey so I subbed half of the honey for peanut butter. I know, right? Genius. Also, because of the natural oils in peanut butter I didn’t need to use as much oil in the granola. For dried fruits I used raisins, sultanas, apricots and goji berries. To lessen the sugar content use fewer dried fruits. I plan on sprinkling this on yogurt and smoothie bowls so don’t mind the higher sugar content as I won’t be eating it in larger portions. This granola is seriously delicious, especially with my accidental-on-purpose addition of peanut butter.
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If you’ve had oat bread before, why-oh-why had you not told me about it?? The first time I’d ever heard of or tasted oat bread was at the Flahavan’s mill and it was a mind-blown moment. If you love oats and you love bread then you need to try this. It’s a clean eating bread recipe that goes great with chia jam, nut butters, even savoury toppings. Thankfully Mary Flahavan shared the recipe and the lovely Hedi from Hedi hearts put her own spin on it to make it vegan. As I’m not vegan I used a regular egg instead of a flax egg but I did use soya yogurt as I am limiting my dairy intake. For the seeds I used a mix of pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds. They give a beautiful crunch to the doughy bread and bump up the healthy fats and fibre content.
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Let me know if you make any of these recipes for your breakfast next. I’d love to see pictures so tag me on social media @SimplyCantara. What is your favourite oats-based recipe? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t get enough of them at the minute!
Thank you to the Flahavan’s family for inviting me to their mill and their home. I had a lovely time visiting Ireland. As always, my comments and opinions are always honest.