High protein steel-cut oats are a great start to any morning. They are also high in fibre, and sweetened with low glycemic index sweeteners making them a long-lasting breakfast providing sustained energy all morning.
A healthy alternative to pancakes! Good source of protein! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate on my bold statements. Nutrition Science is an interesting field in that it is ever evolving and recommendations are continuously being improved upon. One area that is under review is our current daily protein recommendations. We won’t know for a while, but there is some speculation that they are about to be increased. Nevertheless, following a plant-based diet can sometimes leave some of us a bit short on our protein needs – so no better place to start improving on this than with breakfast. This recipe for Simple Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana offers 15g of protein per serve, which can get you well on your way to meeting your daily protein requirements.
“Steel-cut oats are higher in fibre and protein compared to traditional rolled oats, with 8g of fibre and 10g of protein 1/2 cup raw serve.”
Current protein recommendations for the general population are 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. For the average women, this may be around 50-60 grams per day and for men 60-70 grams. There are many factors that determine if a higher protein intake is required including age (muscle synthesis decreases with age), activity level, plant-based diets, and health status. If you would like to figure out your exact protein requirements speak to a Registered Dietitian or another healthcare professional. For most people, aiming for at least 15-20g of protein per meal is a good start.
Benefits of Steel-Cut Oats
Due to their longer cooking time steel-cut oats make an ideal make-ahead breakfast. Make a big batch of them on a Sunday night and have breakfast ready for the rest of the week. Steel-cut oats will stay good for a week in the fridge. They taste great cold or re-heated; simply double the below recipe and add more milk or milk alternative in the morning to thin it out.
Low Glycemic Index
Steel-cut oats are the least processed type of oat. The groats, which is the whole grain that includes the germ and fibre-rich bran portion, as well as the endosperm (which is the usual product of milling), are simply hulled, toasted and then chopped into 3-4 little sections. Their larger surface area takes longer to break down, making them a slow release of energy compared to regular oats which can be broken down more quickly.
Rolled oats are also considered a low glycemic index food. These are oat groats that have been steamed and flattened. The partial cooking process and increase in processing increase the glycemic index compared to steel-cut oats. Instant oats are partially cooked and cut even smaller, making them a medium glycemic index food.
Oats and Cholesterol
Oats are one of the best sources of the fibre β-glucan which are known for their cholesterol-lowering abilities. A recent analysis found that an intake of oat β-glucan at daily doses of at least 3 grams might reduce plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 5-10% (1).
Oats and Gut Health
Resistant starch is well known for it’s role in gut health. Good gut health has been linked to better immune function, and could possibly play a role in diabetes and obesity prevention. Resistant starch is present in cooked and cooled oats, as well as cooled potato and rice, and hot legumes and barley. A diet high in resistant starch has been found to increase populations of friendly bacteria in the gut (2). So eating your leftover oatmeal cold may increase this beneficial fibre, another reason to plan ahead!
Steel-cut Oats and Protein
Steel-cut oats can help us meet our daily protein needs. A half-cup serving of steel-cut oats contains 10g of protein, where a 1/2 cup serving of traditional oats contains 7g. Protein is important for muscle synthesis, immune function, blood sugar stabilization and overall good health.
Tips On Making Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats take at least 25-30 minutes to cook. At 25 minutes I find they are nice and tender, but if you go the extra 5 minutes this is where the creamy oatmeal begins to form. The longer the cooking time, the thicker your oatmeal will be.
Hate the thought of stirring the pot? Bring one part oats to three parts liquid to the boil, cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat and leave to sit overnight. Your oats will be ready in the morning, no stirring required.
No Sugar Needed
I love adding mashed banana to my steel-cut oats in place of sugar, honey or maple syrup. If you choose to omit the mashed banana, try adding 1/2 tsp of unpasturised honey, or real maple syrup, but of which have a lower glycemic index then regular sugar or cane sugar.
What Makes This Oatmeal High Protein?
One of my favourite ways to get a good amount of protein in at breakfast is adding hemp hearts. A serving of 2 tbsp of hemp hearts contains 6 grams of protein, which is as much as an egg. Homemade hemp milk is much higher in protein than the store-bought variety, see my simple recipe for Homemade Hemp Milk here recipe). Naturally, peanut butter is the next addition with 1 tablespoon providing an additional 4 grams of protein.
Want More High Protein Breakfast Recipes
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High Protein Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup hemp milk homemade (+more for serving)
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats dry
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 banana* (+ 1 for serving)
- 2 tbsp peanut butter natural
- 1 tbsp maple syrup real (optional)
- 4 tbsp hemp hearts
- Heat a saucepan with water, hemp milk, salt and oats in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles form. Turn down the heat to medium-low and let the oats simmer with the lid half-on for 25-30 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add it to the oats. Continue to cook on a reduced heat, making sure to stir often. I find that for the first 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes is sufficient. Increasing stirring frequency the longer the oats are cooking.
- You know the oats are finished when they are nice and creamy. Remove them from the heat and add the peanut butter, maple syrup and hemp hearts. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is well blended.
- This dish is great as leftovers for the following morning. Simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. In the morning add a splash of milk or milk alternative and eat cold or reheated.
- Option to serve the oatmeal with an additional sliced banana, divided over the two serves. I also like drizzling some peanut butter on top and add a splash of hemp milk.
Consider food miles: Use Canadian grown oats. Omit the banana and replace with apple, pear or berries. Nutrition Analysis done without maple syrup and using homemade hemp milk.
2) Tanja V. Maier, Marianna Lucio, Lang Ho Lee, Nathan C. VerBerkmoes, et al. (2017). Impact of Dietary Resistant Starch on the Human Gut Microbiome, Metaproteome, and Metabolome. American Society for Microbiology
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.