Sunday, July 8, 2012

Toasted Oats

When I figured out my wheat sensitivity, naturally, I worked to cut out as much of it as possible from my diet (I have not stopped using soy sauce in my cooking; that would be unacceptable. And it's not causing me problems since it's not that much.) This is why I've stopped trying to make dao xiao mian and la mian noodles. But to my chagrin, I found wheat to be in the great majority of cold cereals and even granola cereals. I think it's used as part of the binding agent in the granolas (America's Test Kitchen's recipe in The New Best Recipe calls for food-processing some oats to a powder to fill in gaps between the granular ingredients so you don't just get concentrations of caramel), and for texture/mouth-feel's sake in various "oat" cereals.

So, as one by one my favorite cereals proved treacherous, I turned to making my own granola, at a friend's suggestion. My first batch, using the aforementioned granola recipe, turned out pretty well, though since I had to drop all the nuts and replaced them with oats, my granola turned out somewhat caramel-y in flavor. Maybe because the fats in the nuts weren't there anymore, the sugar/honey cooked a little faster, and caramelized more.

I was mostly eating my granola broken up with soy milk poured over it, as a breakfast cereal. Tasty though smoky caramel is, I found that the amount of sugar required to bind granola together is just more than I want to consume as a meal. The soy milk ended up very sweet after soaking the granola. (Though, I still like Nature Valley Oats 'n' Honey granola bars as a snack. But if you crumble some into your salad, you'll see just how sweet it really is.)

Fortunately, I had a great idea for a much less sweet, and faster, homemade breakfast grain solution that occurred to me in the process of making the granola. That is, the toasted oats pictured at the top of this post. Of course, I'm not the first to do this, though, it's actually not that easy to find lots of recipes to reference on the web; a fair amount of skillet-toasting and granola recipes come up instead. I'm having trouble finding the one I mainly looked at in combination with the New Best Recipe granola recipe in making my own--it's been a while since I made this the first time.

Before you get to mixing the oats with everything else going into your granola, you have to toast them. But the toasted oats are actually ready to eat just as they are. So, instead of adding the honey, spices, etc. after toasting and before the final bake for granola, toss the oats with oil and seasoning before you put them in the oven to toast. Toss the oats a couple times during the baking time, let them cool, et voilà, toasted oats.

Or, you could just have muesli and eat the oats without cooking them. I guess.

Toasted Oats Foundation Recipe

6 cups rolled oats
[nuts and seeds as desired]
1/2 cup canola oil (maybe just 1/4 cup necessary, unless including nuts/seeds)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup dried fruit

1. Place oven racks at 1/3 and 2/3 height in oven. Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. Add oil, honey, salt, cinnamon, vanilla to a small pot or skillet and stir over low heat until incorporated.
3. Measure out rolled oats and put into a large mixing bowl. Stir oats as you pour the liquid mixture into the bowl. Continue stirring and tossing until evenly coated.
4. Divide oats between two sheet pans and spread evenly. Put the pans in the preheated oven and bake until golden, about 30 minutes total, tossing oats every 10 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Add in dried fruit and toss. Store in sealed container (in refrigerator).

Chocolate variation
5 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup dried cherries or dates (optional)

Same as above, except:
Toss (dry) oats with cocoa powder before mixing in oil/honey mixture with oats. Proceed as above.

[Note to you: I'm a dark chocolate guy. Even besides the milk content, I don't prefer milk chocolate. Thus, you may want to increase the sugar you add when making your own chocolate version.]
[Note to self: pure cocoa sensitivity apparently confirmed, independent of milk. Avoid further consumption. Update: further testing reveals that pure cocoa gets a green light!]


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