Oats & Oat Flour: Gluten-Free or Not? PLUS Oatmeal Brownie Recipe

Posted On Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Oats & Oat Flour: Gluten-Free or Not? PLUS Oatmeal Brownie Recipe

Oat flour is something I use very often in my recipes. It’s one of my favorite ways to adapt a conventional recipe to a gluten-free version by substituting oat flour for the wheat version.

If you haven’t tried oat flour yet, keep reading for some ways you can easily swap it in your recipes at home (and why you should!).

First off, oat flour is simply ground up oats. You may purchase oat flour, or if you are like me and would like to control how coarse the oat flour is depending on the recipe, then you can make it yourself.

One cup of whole oats will typically yield about ¾ cups of flour. Add the oats to a food processor, a mini chopper, or even a coffee grinder to get the texture you are looking for. I recommend making just what you need for the recipe instead of making extra for storage. Oat flour attracts humidity and can easily spoil if not kept in an airtight container in a dry cool place. The whole oats, on the other hand, are much more stable. I hope this makes it easier for a lot of you to try out some of the recipes with oat flour.

Next, please consider that not all oats are gluten-free, meaning that some types may prove unsafe for those who are gluten-intolerant. No doubt, some will find this confusing. Pure, uncontaminated oats are indeed gluten-free. Unfortunately, the issue with oats is cross-contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process barley, wheat, and rye (all of which contain gluten).

Another contamination point occurs in the actual fields where the oats grow. If oats are grown next to wheat fields, cross-contamination may be difficult to control at time of harvest due to shifting winds and other variables. So, unless the package actually says “gluten-free,” there is no guarantee it isn’t contaminated with gluten.

Nevertheless, many gluten-intolerant people have no reaction when they consume oats, even if they are not marked as gluten-free certified. That is simply because people have different levels of sensitivity to gluten. It’s a very personal scale, and only those who frequently buy and try different oats can safely make choices for themselves.

My advice is to always be clear: if you bake a recipe with gluten-free certified oats or just plain oats, let your food audience know precisely which so that individuals can make an informed decision about their consumption of the product.

As I mentioned, oat flour is my favorite way to make a recipe, gluten-free friendly. It’s much easier to bake with than potato or corn flour, at least in my opinion. It’s also more versatile than xanthan gum or almond flour. Oats also add so much fiber; they have a special type of fiber called beta-glucan, the component found to have beneficial impact on cholesterol, making oats one of the most heart-friendly grains available.

Oats have also been linked to reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes, due to their blood sugar stabilization qualities. And, they also impact immune system health. There are many studies still looking at oats and their properties. So far, oats continue to stack up as a powerful grain to potentially prevent many diseases.

Starting your day with a bowl of oats is a great idea for all ages. And, if you didn’t have time to get your oatmeal in the morning, why not get your share with these Chocolate Oat Brownie Bites? They are made with oat flour but also almond butter, increasing even more your necessary fiber and boosting your protein intake, simultaneously. They are perfect when served with ice cream or just a plain glass of cold milk.

Chocolate Oat Brownie Bites

2 cups whole oats (1 ¾ cups oat flour)
¼ cup sugar
½ cup almond butter
1 cup Greek-style vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Add the oats to food processor and grind them into a fine flour. Add the baking soda and cocoa powder to the mix, and set aside. In separate bowl, mix almond butter with yogurt and sugar. Then, mix dry and wet ingredients until you have a thick dough-like result. Use a cookie scoop to help fill sections of a mini-muffin pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes.

Yields: about 20 brownie bites.

Carolina Lima Jantac, MS, RD, LD

Carolina Lima Jantac, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition Expert, and Social Media Manager is excited to be a part of an important program for mothers, dads, and kids who need so much guidance. As a Registered Dietitian, she has spent most of her career working in pediatric and adult hospitals as well as long term care centers.

She has learned and applied the power of food and choices we make regarding nutrition as the number one impact on health, longevity and quality of life. Her research at University of Florida on Vitamin B6 was published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism (2007). Carolina brings international flare as she has a dual citizenship (Brazilian and US). She is a brilliant cook.

"I am happily married and have been blessed with two healthy children, Isabela and Daniel. They are great kids and my personal 'experiment' as I introduce them to new foods and educate them on healthy eating, raising them to be good examples of good nutritional choices making a difference for life!"

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