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6 Oat Substitute Options

Oats are incredibly good, nutritious and delicious. Read this article that discusses oats substitutes that bring diversity to your meal and your diet.

7 types of grains in a bowl.

Oats are filling, inexpensive, and versatile, making them a staple in many peoples’ diets. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to shake up your routine now and then with a new and exciting oat alternative. 

It goes without saying that oats are incredibly nutritious, delicious, and satisfying. They are, however, not the only option when it comes to whole grains. Consuming a variety of grains will bring diversity not only to your meals but to your diet too.

For those who experience taste-bud boredom, crave a little creativity, or may not be as eager to face yet another morning of oatmeal, there is an impressive array of oat substitutes to fuel your day.

1. Amaranth

Quinoa’s lesser-known cousin. Tiny but mighty.

Amaranth grains and a long spoon.

Amaranth is classified as a pseudo-cereal: a seed that is consumed and used like cereal grains. A staple of the ancient Aztecs, these seeds have been cultivated for around 8000 years. Amaranth seeds are very similar to quinoa but smaller. Amaranth is truly dynamite in a small package:

  • Gluten-free
  • High in protein, fiber and antioxidants
  • May reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels
  • Great source of manganese, iron, calcium and magnesium

Cooked amaranth has a nutty and earthy flavor with a creamy texture. It releases a lot of starch as it cooks, resulting in a thick, hearty consistency. Amaranth is terrific as a hot breakfast cereal or creamy pudding. You can also cook the seeds over the stovetop into popcorn!

Creamy Amaranth Porridge Serves: 1

Amaranth porridge in a bowl and a fig fruit.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup amaranth seeds
  • 1 ½ cups liquid: milk, plant milk, water or a combination
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • Optional add-ins: fruit, nut butter, toasted seeds
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Directions

  1. Add amaranth, liquid, sweetener and spices to a small saucepan, and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently.
  3. Remove from heat and serve warm with toppings of choice.

2. Barley

A barley seeds in a green container.

Deserves more recognition. Twice the protein with almost half the calories of oats.

Originating from Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, barley is an ancient grain that has been cultivated for more than 10 000 years! This inexpensive grain comes in two forms – pearled and hulled. Barley is extremely versatile and boasts an array of health benefits:

  • Good source of protein, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and vitamin B3
  • High in soluble fiber – controls blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • May aid in weight loss/management as it is satiating and regulates appetite

Note: Barley is not gluten-free

Barley has a mild, nutty flavor and the texture is similar to farro and arborio rice. Its hearty and chewy texture makes for a delicious porridge, risotto, soup, pilaf or stew.

Pearled barley is not considered a whole grain because the bran and endosperm layers have been removed. This form of barley cooks the quickest and absorbs a lot of water, resulting in a creamy consistency.

Hulled barley is more nutritious, as it contains the bran and endosperm. It will take longer to cook, with a deeper flavor and chewy texture.

Overnight Banana Bread Barley Serves 2

If you are a fan of the infamous no-cook overnight oats, you will love this recipe:

A bowl of banana porridge with a slice of strawberry.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt of choice
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • Optional toppings: Diced walnuts, raisins, shredded coconut
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Directions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine barley, chia seeds, yogurt, milk, spices and nut butter.
  2. Pour mixture into a small mason jar, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When ready to eat, add sliced and optional toppings.
  4. Enjoy chilled or warm.

3. Brown Rice

A cup of Brown rice in a plate.

A classic staple for more than 100 cultures. Its health benefits are underrated.

Brown rice is a nutrient-dense and super comforting whole grain with infinite potential. Brown rice retains its bran and germ layer, making it considerably healthier than white rice.

  • Naturally gluten-free
  • Packed with essential minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, calcium and selenium.
  • Has a broad range of B vitamins and vitamin K.
  • High in protein and fiber
  • May assist with:
  • Weight loss
  • Diabetes and cholesterol management
  • Improved sleep and digestion
  • Cardiovascular and Mental health

Brown rice has a slightly nutty, bread-like taste. Perfectly fluffy and hearty, this rice is terrific as a base for both sweet and savory dishes. Prepare a batch of brown rice to use in a variety of meals throughout the week. The recommended ratio is 1 cup brown rice to 2 ½ -3 cups water.

Sweet Brown Rice Porridge Idea

  1. Cook rice in milk of choice, add cinnamon and vanilla extract
  2. Stir in a drizzle of honey and nut butter
  3. Choose your toppings: fruit, yogurt, nuts, seeds, granola, coconut flakes

Savory Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl

  1. Cook rice in broth and spices of choice
  2. Choose your toppings: sauteed vegetables, eggs, meat, beans, avocado
  3. Jazz it up with: chopped herbs, spring onion, extra spices, sauce, yogurt, cream cheese

A bowl of brown rice with turnips, boiled eggs, olives.

4. Buckwheat

No relation to wheat, despite its name. It is a dream to cook – and to eat!

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Buckwheat, also known as kasha, is an ancient pseudo-cereal that has been consumed in Asia and Eastern Europe for centuries. The carbohydrate content makes this seed ideal to consume as a grain. Buckwheat is a gluten-free alternative adored by health-conscious consumers due to its affordability, versatility, and nutritional value.Buckwheat in a wooden bowl and scattered on a table.

  • Nutrient powerhouse: manganese, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorus and vitamin B6
  • Gluten-free and non-allergenic
  • High in protein, fiber and antioxidants, superb for vegan and vegetarian diets
  • May provide the following health benefits:
  • Aid in weight loss and reduce food cravings
  • Improved heart health – reduces inflammation and ‘bad’ cholesterol
  • Low GI – great for blood sugar control and diabetes management
  • Assists with hormonal health

Buckwheat is similar to rye or wheat with a nutty, earthy and slightly bitter taste. It can be enjoyed in various forms: groats, flour, pasta and noodles. Cooked buckwheat is soft and chewy, but firm enough to use as porridge, risotto or a base for curry and stew.

Cooking buckwheat is a breeze, ready in just 10-15 minutes! Prepare a big batch to use in sweet and savory dishes.

Buckwheat Papaya Boat Serves 2

Papaya yogurt porridge with banana, and almonds.

This breakfast is a quick, wholesome and fun way to start the day.

  1. Mix a few teaspoons of cooked buckwheat with an equal amount of yogurt and a dash of cinnamon.
  2. Slice 1 ripe papaya in half lengthwise and remove seeds.
  3. Fill each half with the buckwheat mixture.
  4. Top with fruit of your choice.
  5. Sprinkle with crushed nuts, seeds and add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
  6. Enjoy immediately.

5. Millet

A millet grain in a wooden bowl.

Underrated non-gluten grain. Not just for the birds!

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Millet is an ancient cereal grain that has been a staple in Africa and Southeast Asia for thousands of years. The small, round, and white or yellow grains resemble corn kernels or seeds. In North America, millet is usually associated with birdseed – and less so for human consumption!

Today, millet is slowly gaining popularity as a wholesome and highly versatile whole grain.

  • Gluten-free and one of the easiest to digest
  • Low-GI and rich in fiber: Controls blood sugar and improves digestive health
  • Excellent nutritional profile: potassium, Vitamins A &B, calcium, iron and magnesium
  • Has an alkalizing effect on the body

Cooked millet has a nutty, sweet, mild, corn-like flavor. Depending on how it is prepared, millet can be light and fluffy (like couscous) or smooth and creamy (like porridge).

Fluffy, chewy millet:

  • Toast millet in a skillet until golden-brown before adding water
  • Use 1 cup millet with 2 cups water or broth
  • Gently simmer for 25-30 minutes, until liquid has absorbed

Use as a side dish or base for warm salads and dishes.

Smooth and creamy millet porridge:

  • Toast millet until lightly fragrant
  • Use 1 cup millet with 3 cups water or milk
  • Gently simmer for 25-35 minutes

Pumpkin Pie Millet Breakfast Serves 2

Pumpkin Pie Millet Breakfast in a bowl and a saddle.

Creamy and comforting bowl of goodness!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup hulled millet
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/3 – ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Topping: nut butter, toasted pecans, sliced fruit, extra pumpkin spice or cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, gently toast millet until golden brown.
  2. Add water, vanilla, sweetener and spices. Stir to combine.
  3. Bring to the boil before covering and reducing to a simmer.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes before adding milk and pumpkin puree. Mix well.
  5. Simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until cooked and creamy.
  6. To serve, spoon into bowls and add toppings. Enjoy warm!
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6. Quinoa

[keen-wah]

3 types of Quinoa in a wooden bowl.

From humble Peruvian staple to modern-day gem with superfood status.

One of the most beloved superfoods, quinoa has tremendous versatility and a wealth of health benefits. Like amaranth and buckwheat, quinoa is a pseudo-cereal – a seed that is prepared and eaten like a grain. There are three main types of quinoa: white (traditional), red and black.

  • The best source of complete protein in the plant kingdom
  • Gluten-free and hypoallergenic
  • May provide regenerative benefits for the skin, brain and bones
  • Anti-inflammatory

Quinoa has a sweet, nutty flavor with a delicately crunchy texture. Quinoa cooks in a similar way to buckwheat, ready in 15-20 minutes. Quinoa is versatile enough to be cooked in both sweet and savory dishes.

Tropical Quinoa Porridge Serves 4

Tropical Quinoa Porridge, with orange and pomegranate.

A Light and Summery Porridge that is Quick, Healthy and Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • Toppings: Shredded coconut (plain or toasted), chopped nuts, nut butter

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain quinoa.
  2. Add quinoa, water and coconut to a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Add salt, cinnamon, honey and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until liquid is fully absorbed.
  5. Portion porridge into bowls, add diced fruit and extra toppings.
  6. Enjoy!