It’s springtime and time to start cleaning out the old and brining in the fresh and new! We clean out closets, but it is time to clean out our kitchens too! However, there is no need to waste food. The key is to learn to use what you already have by getting creative. As a dietitian, I’d bet lots of people have a canister of good ole oats in their pantry. The trouble is that with the warmer weather, oatmeal may not be your thing for this season. Don’t let those oats go to waste! Try these 5 ideas to bring your winter oats into the spring without wasting them!
- Make your own granola: Most people by store bought granola, but you can actually toast your own oats. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread oats out in a thin layer on a large cookie sheet and toast the oats for 10 minutes or until toasted. You should smell a nutty aroma. Use a spatula or spoon to stir occasionally. Then once cool mix with you favorite nut and dried fruit for a delicious, nutrient-rich granola-style trail mix. This can be eaten as a snack, mixed in Greek yogurt or mixed with milk for cereal.
- Oat crusted protein: Many people use breading or nuts to crust chicken and/or fish. Try using your oats as the grain base for your protein crusting for a switch-up in taste. You can use the oats whole or grind them in a food processor to make them like flour.
- Make a casserole topping: Many casseroles, healthy or not, require some type of bread crumb or cracker as a topping. Swapping the bread/cracker ingredient for oats is a great way to add a whole grain flavor and fiber to you casserole. You don’t have to change anything else, simply mix the oats with the other topping ingredients and bake accordingly.
- Make oat flour: If you are a person that likes to bake, try grinding your oats into oat flour and using it as a base to add some fiber and a dash of protein to your next baked treat. Oat flour can be used in muffins or cookies and tastes great! It provides more nutrients that regular ole all-purpose flour.
- Peanut butter bites: Want a recipe that requires no cooking that your whole family will love? Stir together ½ cup peanut/almond butter and ¼ cup honey. Then stir in 1 cup oats and ½ cup whey protein or non-fat dry milk powder. Once stirred well, roll into 20-22 balls and refrigerate. They are a great mid-morning snack for you or your kids that are rich in nutrients!