Oats for Dinner? You Bet!

If oats had a fan club, I’d be the president.

I can’t say enough about their whole grain goodness and find myself especially smitten with the steel cut variety.

For those of you new to the wonderful world of steel cut oats, let me give you the lowdown. These oats have been minimally processed and are chunkier than standard rolled oats. High in fiber, low in fat and nutritionally dense, steel cut oats rank low on the GI index scale and will keep you satisfied for a long, long time.

Okay, now that we know how healthy they are, get ready for a bit of genius.

Thanks to the innovative thinking from the peeps at Grainful, steel cut oat enthusiasts like myself can now enjoy their oats in a variety of savory ways — for dinner, even — with little to no hassle.

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Grainful Steel Cut Sides

Made for the stove-top, crock-pot or rice cooker, Grainful Steel Cut Sides are created with the same clean, natural ingredients you’d choose if only you had the time! Certified gluten free and vegetarian, each package contains wholesome oats, spices and vegetables in savory combinations. Choose from Tomato Risotto, Cheesy Oats, Madras Curry or Jambalaya. Add water and simmer for a quick and easy side or use one of the chef inspired suggestions on the back of the package to make the meal your own.

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I added Andouille sausage to the Jambalaya side and whipped up some cornbread to tame the heat of this spicy Creole classic. It had loads of flavor and could easily serve a family of four. Per serving without the sausage 200 cal, 7 grams protein, 3 grams fat.

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Can you whip together an exotic curry or a spicy jambalaya in less than 30 minutes? I know I can’t, and I’m an experienced cook!

The Madras Curry featured the same sweet, exotic flavors of the curry I make from scratch. The oats were a welcome change from traditional rice, plus it made an easy one-pot meal with the addition of chicken. You could also keep it vegetarian and add bite-sized tofu.

Truthfully, I rarely buy convenience foods. I’m a damn good cook (yeah, I said it) and am not easily impressed with pre-packaged meals. But these? These were not just “OK in a pinch-good” but really, really good!

Both meals were flavored well and not overly salty; on an average they contain about 350 mg of sodium per serving which is low for a pre-packaged meal.

If you think oatmeal for dinner would be weird, you’d be wrong. The oats are chunky and come across as miniature kernels of rice. My husband (who doesn’t particularly care for oats of any kind) thought these meals were delicious!

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Grainful Steel Cut Meals

If you are still not convinced you’d dig oats for dinner, then give Grainful Steel Cut Meals a try. They offer six freezer-ready varieties including two vegan and two vegetarian options. (The Cheddar Broccoli is not pictured.)

I sampled the Porcini Mushroom Chicken and the Unstuffed Pepper. They didn’t look exactly like the picture on the box, but with one bite all was forgiven. Both had big flavor with chunks of meat and veggies, not pulverized tidbits like most frozen entrees; the Porcini Mushroom Chicken was the hands-down favorite. Creamy with ample pieces of chicken and mushroom it was reminiscent of traditional risotto, but with only 270 calories, 18 grams protein and 8 grams fat.

Safe for the conventional oven or the microwave, either entrée would make a damn fine supper for one.

It’s about time the matriarch of the oat family took its rightful place at the dinner table.

Do you think you’ll give Grainful a try? If so, here’s a coupon! —Karen

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