Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Medicinal Properties of Oats

Eating on the go is an inevitable part of a busy lifestyle, but doing so healthily shouldn’t be impossible!  That’s why my mom and I came up with this healthy breakfast recipe back when I was in high school, so I could continue to eat well amidst my busy schedule of school, dance, and commuting between the two.  We called them ‘Breakfast Cookies’, as they are essentially the contents of a bowl of oatmeal in cookie form, for a quick and easy breakfast!  Unlike a traditional ‘cookie’, however, they are free from any added sugar or fat; their natural sweetness comes from raisins and spices, and their moisture comes from applesauce.

Breakfast cookies, ready to enjoy with a mug of tea or a glass of milk (dairy or non-dairy!)

This recipe features oats, which have medicinal properties as a food as well as in their botanical form.  When consumed as a food, oats are rich in fibre, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.  They are useful in balancing blood glucose levels, decreasing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, lowering cholesterol levels, and overall improving cardiovascular health.

Botanically known as Avena sativa, oats are a true nutritive for the nervous system.  When given as a botanical tincture, oats have mild anti-depressant properties, and are also indicated for nervous exhaustion, anxiety and insomnia.

This is what an oat field looks like - in Farmington, California

Oats are also extremely nourishing and moisturizing to the skin when applied topically, and can be used for many conditions including inflammation, eczema, acne, dry and irritated skin.  My favourite is an oatmeal face mask: simply grind a couple tablespoons of oats in the blender and mix in a small bowl with enough warm water to form a thin paste.  Massage gently into skin and allow to dry.  Rinse off after 20-30 minutes.

But since eating oats is the most fun, see the recipe below!

Scarlett’s Breakfast Cookies

First, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Then, mix together in a large bowl:

1 1/3 cups of whole rolled oats
2/3 cup rolled oats, ground into flour in the blender
½ cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
2/3 cup walnuts (or other nuts/seeds)
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1 ½ cups applesauce
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and place cookie batter in small flattened mounds, an inch or so apart, to make 18 cookies.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, then allow to cool on a wire rack.  These cookies can be eaten immediately, or stored in the fridge for up to a week.  Enjoy for breakfast or as a snack anytime!


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