It may sound overly dramatic to confess that I love a grain, but I really do. When I originally went gluten free it was a step at a time (someday I will write about this and why I think it is the wrong way to become gluten free and why I think celiac testing is important before starting a gluten free diet). I was having severe digestive issues, my naturopath at the time suggested I stop eating wheat. I felt wonderful! Within days all my symptoms went away, I was still eating all the other non-gluten and gluten containing grains. As I got more proficient with cooking with grains I previously hadn’t really eaten often such as spelt, kamut and barley, I noticed one by one I was becoming far less tolerate and gradually began having the same reaction to each of them that I got when I ate wheat. Spelt and kamut were the first to go which made sense since they are ancient forms of wheat so many people react to them the same as they do to wheat, then barley wasn’t worth the consequences. Aside from being sad about missing out on my grandma’s cabbage rolls, losing barley wasn’t a big deal for me. Then very, very sadly I needed to say good bye to my 100% rye bread that I loved so much. That is one that I still miss and wish I could eat again. I was left with non-gluten grains and oats. I was ok, I loved oats and rice.
Then gradually I started to notice that if I ate too may oats I started to have issues. I was in denial for quite a while but eventually cut out the oats and felt much better. For years, I really missed oats. Then a few years ago, research came out proving that oats as a grain don’t contain gluten. They get contaminated through farming and processing and all commerical brands contained traces of wheat, barley or rye (usually wheat). This made sense, this meant that oats had to lowest levels of gluten and that is was only due to contamination that most gluten sensitive people were unable to tolerate oats. It took a few years but now there are many wonderful companies that sell oats that are gluten free (free from traces of wheat, rye and barley). These companies have farms that are dedicated to only growing oats and not other grains as well and use dedicated machinery and processing for their oats. At the end of the process assays are preformed to make sure the gluten level is below the minimum allowed level to qualify as gluten free These companies include Creamhill estates and Only Oats are the ones I most often buy. Some celiacs do react to the oat proteins (avenins) in a negative way and it isn’t recommended that celiacs eat more than 50-70 gram of pure oats/day. I also is generally recommended to wait until someone stabilizes on a gluten free diet before adding the pure oats in so that you can see if someone is reacting to them in a negative way. Having pure oats available can help someone who is celiac or gluten sensitive with variety in whole grains.
Oats are a great source of iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. Oats can help reduce stress and in nursing moms can increase milk supply. Oat bran can decrease cholesterol (though I have found it hard to find gluten free oat bran). The fibre content in oats keeps you feeling full longer and keeps blood sugars stable, this is good news for diabetics, pre-diabetics and people trying to lose weight. And they are yummy!
I love oats as granola, as breakfast oatmeal with pecans and cranberries, in my favourite crispbread recipe (I love to use steel cut oats in it best, tastes like the oat cakes I used to love before becoming gluten free!) and in these tasty cocoa sunflower almond butter balls.
Enjoy some oats!