Why isn’t oatmeal paleo?
Oatmeal is one of those breakfast staples that many people are hesitant to say goodbye to when they adopt a paleo or primal diet. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t searching for a paleo oatmeal recipe. Many people want to know why oatmeal isn’t paleo. I looked around, and per usual, Mark’s Daily Apple has sound, scientifically based information in an easily digestible format. So I’ll defer to him on this: Are Oats Healthy?
TL;DR: Basically, oats are a cereal grain. Like other grains, they have some nutrients, but also anti-nutrients. Phytic acid, or phytate, is the familiar anti-nutrient present in many grains, and the other notable one in oats is avenin. Phytate tends to eagerly bind with nutrients and minerals during the digestive process, making them unavailable and taking them out of the body with them when they go. We humans do not have the enzymes to break down phytic acid, so we are pretty much defenseless against this attack. And no, the familiar process of cooking oats in water does not break down the phytate; it just softens the oat, saving us some trouble during digestion. The avenin is a bigger deal. It is a prolamin, like gluten, and some people with gluten sensitivities do react to it, though apparently not as much if those people are already following a gluten-free diet. In addition, during processing, many oats are cross-contaminated with gluten. The take away is that if you follow a gluten-free diet, and don’t have Celiac’s or high gluten sensitivity, oatmeal is probably not going to give you any issues, though you should take care to make sure the oats are gluten-free. It’s just not a very nutrient dense food (when you consider the nutrients we are actually able to digest in the oats). Mark also addresses the question of why the American Heart Association recommends them so highly, and the answer is that they are a good source of soluble fiber, which may help reduce serum cholesterol. However, you can get soluble fiber from plenty of other places, and probably get enough if you follow a paleo diet. And, if you follow a paleo diet, your serum cholesterol levels are probably pretty good, or on their way to normalizing.
But… oatmeal is tasty!
What is it about oatmeal that makes it so appealing? By itself, it is actually pretty bland. Maybe that it’s warm and filling. Or, that it’s easy to dress up with cinnamon or berries, but yet neutral if you prefer to leave it that way. Either way, it is good to have a substitute, and I’ve found one that does a pretty good job of filling that void.
Keep in mind that if you don’t want to add the raw egg that’s in the recipe, you don’t have to! I just like throwing in a little extra protein. If you are ok with eating a little Greek yogurt, this is a great substitute for the egg- add in about a quarter cup instead of the egg. Along with the nuts, either of those options makes this meal pretty protein heavy with some good fats to start off your day. Accordingly, it is actually incredibly filling. The recipe below will serve two people, so you may want to reduce it if you’re just making it for you- I find that it doesn’t keep very well. I regularly make enough for two people anyway, thinking that THIS time I’m hungry enough to eat all of it, but I seriously have never been able to- and I can eat a surprising amount of food for a person my size. It really is that filling.
Anyway, I didn’t add any extra fruit into the ingredients list, but I do love to top my paleo oatmeal with fruit. There are never enough excuses to eat a handful of berries in the morning! Enjoy!
Gonna try out this recipe? Don’t forget to tag your Instagram pictures to see yours show up on this page:
By Published: November 15, 2012
- Yield: ~1.5 cups (2 Servings)
- Prep: 5 mins
Since oatmeal isn't technically paleo, this substitute is a delicious way to start your morning.
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup almonds slivered or blanched are best
- 1/2 banana sliced
- 1/4 cup coconut milk unsweetened; can add extra when served
- 1 egg raw; optional
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt optional; to taste
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup optional; additional to taste
- Add the walnuts, pecans, and almonds to a food processor, and pulse until evenly chopped. Processing these before adding the other ingredients ensures even chopping.
- Add the banana, egg, coconut milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, and salt to the mixture. Pulse until evenly blended.
- To serve hot, microwave for about 30-45 seconds, then stir.
- Add additional coconut milk and maple syrup to taste, and serve immediately.
- Course: Breakfast