Jan 10, 2017

No oats for breakfast, please

In my social media timeline, for the past few days, I’m noticing many people embracing oats for breakfast as though it’s a super food and going to the extent of eating 5 times a week. Brands are also promoting it aggressively by partnering with popular food bloggers in accordance with the New Year resolution healthy eating/fitness/well-being themes.

As humans, we seek instant solutions. And this behaviour is well in tune with what the brands expect from us. Take a few spoons of oats, add water/milk, MW it, add some fruits and nuts and you are done with breakfast. And many people don’t mind following the same routine on all 5 days of the work week, as it is convenient, less time to prepare and can be eaten hassle-free with a spoon in one hand and a smart phone in the other.

Traditional breakfasts are being put under the back-burner for special occasions or for weekends. If dosas/idlis have to be made for breakfast, the batter has to be available and the preparation of chutney/sambhar as an accompaniment is an additional overhead. Why take the extra effort - “let me whip up some pancakes and drizzle some ready-to-use sugar-laden maple syrup” is the attitude these days.

Sorry for the digression. Why am I against oats?

1) Oats is not a native grain of India. It is imported from Australia, New Zealand and a few other countries in Europe.
2) The packaged oats that we get in India is processed to the extent that there is very little fibre in it. Oats grains are de-husked, boiled at very high temperatures, dried and broken down to "oats flakes". These are named “quick cooking oats” that gets cooked under 3 minutes. To ensure the packaging is dry, lump-free and free-flowing, many chemicals are also being sprayed. After so much processing, will there be any protein, beta-D-glucan or fibre in the pack of oats flakes? A question all of us need to ask the brands (and the actors and the social media influencers). (Processing info reference - Page 145 from the Tamil book “Nalam 360” by Dr.K Sivaraman)
3) Quick cooking Oats taken as a porridge doesn’t fill you up. You’ll start to feel hungry within an hour or so. I’m speaking from my experience. I had tried taking quick cooking oats regularly for breakfast 6 years back and by the time I reach my office, I would feel hungry and I would end up grabbing some biscuits and tea.

Why do we NEED oats when we have so much nutrition in our local grains like millets? With a little planning and a 20-minute effort every morning, you can have fresh, home-cooked traditional breakfast. Sharing a few ideas that I follow:
1) I stock up on millet grains, rice flakes (poha), ragi vermicelli and wheat rava
2) During Sundays, I make millet idli/dosa batter. Soaking the grains takes hardly 5 minutes. Grinding the batter takes 10-15 minutes. That’s it - with an investment of 20 minutes from my Sunday, my breakfast is sorted for 3 days. I make batters with all types of millets, ragi, bajra, jowar and regular rice, alternating each week.
3) On Mondays, I make idlis with fresh fermented batter. I keep stock of home-made idli chutney podis (regular chutney podi, flaxseed podi and horsegram podi) which I would serve as accompaniment. Sometimes, I would make sambhar which I would use for both breakfast and lunch.
4) On Tuesdays, I make crisp dosas and on Wednesdays, the same batter would be used for veg oothappams.
5) The easiest and wholesome breakfast has to be poha. I keep roasted peanuts ready and so it hardly takes 15 minutes to make a delicious poha
6) Varieties of upma can be made using regular sooji, wheat rava (samba rava), broken wheat (lapsi) and millets. Add a handful of veggies, ginger and lemon juice. More nutrition, freshly prepared and you don’t need to make a side-dish. A little pickle and curd would do.

It is appalling that well-educated people fall into the trap of endless promotions by brands endorsed by film actors and actresses. My request to you is to not blindly accept these tall-claims, looking for instant solutions and results. If you are looking for weight loss, it requires a LOT of effort. Eating a bowl of quick cooking oats or Kelloggs-K will not magically melt away the excess fat from your body.

P.S. If you still want to eat oats, then please ask your friends abroad to send you a pack of rolled oats, which is high in fibre as compared to quick cooking ones. Maybe, it is also available in gourmet stores that sells imported foods.


Anonymous said...

Hi anuradha, your blog is very good and ininformative. I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your knowledge

Unknown said...

Thanks for highlighting the nature and quality of oats that r available in India. I didn't know that rolled oats r good for health. If I am not wrong, I thinks millets should be soaked for a few hours and then made into idli and dosas. Pl share some receipes of fast idli and dosa preparation. Thanks a lot.

Idea4India said...

Are rolled oats not availablein India? Are they hard to cook?

Idea4India said...

Would you please compare oats with foxtail millets in terms of nutrition, and the 5 4 other millet-types that Dr. Khader Vali, the Millet Man , advocates in daily use.

Idea4India said...

Would you please compare oats with foxtail millets in terms of nutrition, and the 5 4 other millet-types that Dr. Khader Vali, the Millet Man , advocates in daily use.

Anuradha Sridharan said...

@Pratibha, rolled oats and steel cut oats are better choices than quick cooking oats. But we don't need oats if we include millets regularly. Here's an article I wrote on millets. I have also shared the proportion of making idli/dosa using millets - http://www.anuradhasridharan.com/2014/12/incorporating-millets-into-your-meals.html

Anuradha Sridharan said...

@Idea4India, rolled oats is available in India but I have never cooked with them. I don't see a need for oats in my diet. On millets, please refer to my article - http://www.anuradhasridharan.com/2014/12/incorporating-millets-into-your-meals.html

Unknown said...


Prior to finding your articles concerning oats, I purchased Weikfield Eco Valley White Oats to use in overnight oats for a quick breakfast after going to the gym. They have advertised that it is Quick Cooking, however the ingredients only state oats. The fiber content is 9.7 grams. Will it contain 627 - Disodium 5’ guanylate, and 631 - Disodium 5' inosinate even when it is not listed? Should I still buy rolled or steel cut or is this adequate? I've tried millet, and have found oats to be the best option for me and my lifestyle.
Thank you.

Koolvj said...

Wow this is such an eye opening read.. just today I was wondering I should include more of oats in my diet as it has lit of protein ... should definitely check the incorporating millets in meal page as well

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

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