Oat is among the most nutritious grain that one can introduce to a child’s diet. As it’s easily digestable, it’s good to get your child to start enjoying oats at an early age. What’s more when this grain is also an excellent source of dietary fiber, B-vitamins (thiamin), vitamin E, calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and phosphorus. Having a regular helping of oats can certainly bring substantial health benefits as well to both adults and children, such as
- Lowering cholesterol and helps in preventing heart disease
- Stabilising blood sugar level and lowering the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
- Reducing the risk of cancer with its phytochemicals (anti-cancer properties)
- Reducing the risk of asthma among children
- Relieving constipation
- Boosting the body’s immune system
Oats can be found in several forms, depending on the degree of processing they are subjected to.
Types of oats:
- Whole oats – They have a harder outer hull that must be removed before it’s ready for consumption.
- Oat groats – They are whole oat grains, with only the hard unpalatable outer hull removed, but the kernel outer bran layers are left intact. They need to be soaked, cooked a longer time (about 50 minutes) with more water.
- Steel-cut oats – They are also known as “pinhead” oats. They are oat groats that have been chopped into small pieces through steel cutters. They are very nutritious. They take about 30 minutes to cook and require less water in preparation.
- Rolled oats – They are steamed oat groats that have been flattened with a roller. They come in two distinct varieties. The first variety, also known as old fashioned oats (or jumbo), is made by first steaming the whole groat for a few minutes, thus partially cooking it, then passing it between rollers to flatten it out. The second variety, known as quick-cooking rolled oats, is made by putting steel-cut oats through the same process. Old fashioned oats may take approximately 15 minutes to cook whereas quick-cooking oats may take as little as 5.
- Instant oats – They are made in a similar process to rolled quick-cooking oats, except that they are steamed longer, cut finely and rolled thinner. They are used for making “instant” porridge. They are less nutritious because they usually have sugar, salt or other flavourings added to them.
- Oat flour – They are ground into a fine powder and available in three grades: coarse, medium and fine.
More reading references:
- The Cook’s Thesaurus
- Eat More Oats
- Homemade Baby Food Recipes
Who should avoid oats:
- People who suffer from coeliac disease should avoid oats and other gluten grains such as wheat, rye and barley. (Note: Coeliac disease is also known as gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.)
- It is advisable to wait until your baby is at least 6 months of age before introducing oats as it is believed that oats may trigger off the risk of coeliac disease. Also, given that ANY food can potentially cause allergic reaction, it is wise to consult your child’s pediatrician if you want to introduce oats before your baby is 6 months old or your family has a history of gluten intolerance.
Benefits of soaking oats
- Phytic acid is present in all wholegrains, including oats. While it is good to prevent cancer, it can also reduce mineral absorption like zinc and iron. By soaking, the amount of phytic acid is reduced so as to enable proper digestion and absorption of nutrients by the body.
How to include oats in your kid’s diet?
Althought oats are commonly used for boiling porridge and making muesli, you can also cook it in other interesting ways, like making muffins, granola bars, parfait and crumbles.
I must say I really adore this flapjack recipe very much as it is incredibly easy to make, and not to mention eggless, nut-free and wheat-free. (Note: Flapjack refers to an oat bar in British cuisine whereas it’s a thick pancake in US and Canada. Source: Wikipedia). It’s similar to ordinary granola bar except that it requires lesser ingredients and uses apple puree.
Fresh apples are cooked, pureed and then pressed through a sieve to squeeze out the excess juices. By doing so, the flapjack will not fall apart and is able to hold its shape when cooled. The pureed apple is then mixed with both oats and seeds to give it an overall chewy gooey texture. I use pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to provide the flapjack with extra goodness and a nutty flavour. Of course, you are free to substitute seeds with any dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries or blackberries.
Whatever variations you may come up with, the most important thing of all is that this slow energy releasing, high fiber oat bar keeps your children going on busy days. Hence, they are ideal to be packed into school lunch boxes or as snack. They taste really delish, moist, buttery and yet not overly sweet. Kids will definitely love them. This includes my little boy. I just made some the other day and was amazed to see how fast they vanished from his lunch box.
For those who are concerned of choking hazards, serve the flapjack in a smaller bite size for younger kids.
>>>> Click on PAGE 2 BELOW for Apple Flapjack Recipe……………………