Tag Archives: beta glucans

Oats and concrete proof of wackiness

I’m all about oats today, which means I won’t have time to talk about my eccentric dogs. But as a picture paints a thousand words here is:

Hugo waiting with eager anticipation for the vet to let him into her office because, after all, who isn’t a massive fan of painful injections?

And Java yesterday. Luc asked me if I’d stuck her on a pole and used it to sweep the chimney. I particularly like the facial war paint. (By the way, I am aware that this is a case of the kettle calling the pot black; almost every time I see a photo of myself I immediately think of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

Oats (Avena sativa) contain beta glucan, a complex sugar that forms a gelatinous texture in the digestive tract and has an enormously beneficial influence on the immune system. Beta glucan boosts defenses against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

Findings published in the BMJ showed that oat fibre reduced the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Not only do oats have anti-inflammatory properties, good gut bacteria may be increased by eating the non-digestible oligosaccharides they contain.

Oats help maintain a healthy weight. According to a collection of scientific reviews, they play an important role in improving satiety, diet quality, and digestive, cardiovascular and general metabolic health.

Oats may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, especially in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes. Beta glucans reduce the absorption of sugar and as a result lower levels of blood glucose.

A Finnish study found that babies introduced early to oats were less likely to develop persistent asthma. And soaked oats applied as a poultice or added to the bath also provide a very soothing treatment for eczema.

Oats are often used for their relaxing, restorative qualities, probably due to their high levels of B vitamins. In fact, oat extract has been used for centuries by healers in India to treat opium addiction. Studies have shown that it can also reduce nicotine cravings.

Last but not least, oats are a rich source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. This includes the B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. It is best to soak oats for at least two hours before eating as this improves digestibility. Soaking also reduces phytic acid, allowing for better absorption of the nutrients.

Here is a recipe for my staple breakfast of  bircher muesli which eases the pain of getting up early.

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 tablespoons rolled oats

1 tablespoon sultanas

50ml oat milk (or any milk)

75g natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons’ honey

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 apple, washed and grated

2 tablespoons chopped nuts (I use walnuts and almonds)

150g red berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants)

Soak the oats and sultanas in the milk for at least two hours or even overnight. Stir in the yoghurt, honey and lemon juice. Then add the grated apple, chopped nuts and berries.

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Anzac biscuits and manic Monday

anzac

This morning I was to take Léo to school, Java to the vet to have her stitches removed, and my husband to the osteopath in an attempt to convince him that his ribs are fractured and that he should temporarily cut out all activities involving long ladders and roofs. We arrived at school to be told that their roof had collapsed in the night and that there would be no lessons for the foreseeable. This suited me quite well as it happens, because it meant that Léo could stay in the back seat to prevent Java from strangling herself with her lead; emergency stops on the hard shoulder to unravel dogs are always a bit of a nuisance.

While the journey was event-free, it took no fewer than four of us to hold Java down while the vet tried to take out her stitches. Fifteen kilos of hyperactive, adrenaline-fuelled, unadulterated puppy terror produce a force to be reckoned with, believe me. Obviously Luc couldn’t help, what with his dodgy ribs, but it was very useful to have him there barking orders at us all (including the vet) to ‘just hold her down for God’s sake’. The visit to the osteopath was less traumatic (Luc didn’t wriggle on the table), but she did call me in to insist upon the importance of his staying still and on terra firma for the next six weeks. I guess someone else will have to fix the school roof, although presumably he’ll be available for ‘advice’!

These biscuits are divine and really rather healthy. Oats have a low GI, are extremely high in fibre and contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in beta glucans which increase the immune system’s ability to fight off bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Although beta glucans enhance the immune system, they don’t make it overactive and are therefore suitable for people with autoimmune diseases.

This recipe is adapted from Amber Rose’s wonderful book ‘Love. Bake. Nourish’.

Ingredients (makes 16-20)

125g spelt flour

100g desiccated coconut

40g raisins

100g rolled oats

Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Pinch of sea salt

75g coconut oil

50g butter

80g honey

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare and grease two baking trays. Combine the flour, coconut, raisins, oats, chia seeds and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gently melt the coconut oil, butter and honey in a small saucepan and stir until smooth. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in two tablespoons of boiling water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine well.

Roll walnut-sized pieces of dough into balls and place on the baking trays, leaving space between each ball. Flatten them slightly and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.