Once the cold weather hits, nothing starts the day better than a steamy hot bowl of oatmeal. While this breakfast classic is still a favorite for many, oats are a versatile and inexpensive staple that can be used for a variety of applications both in and outside the kitchen. Celebrate National Oatmeal Month with some of these alternate uses for this humble grain.
1. Overnight oats. A close relative to hot oats, overnight oats are a cool and cook-free method to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal. Start by combining 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup soymilk, and 1/3 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt in a small bowl. Refrigerate uncovered overnight and top with fresh fruit, chopped nuts or granola the following morning.
2. Flour Substitute. Need to make a recipe gluten-free? Or just want to add some extra nutrients to that banana bread? Replace 1/2 or all the flour in a recipe with oats. Simply grind oats in a food processor until they resemble a fine powder and use as you would regular flour. Note: Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if using for a gluten-free recipe.
3. Breadcrumb replacement. Believe it or not, oats work just as well as breadcrumbs in plenty of recipes, and can serve as a healthier, lower-sodium alternative. Substitute the same amount of breadcrumbs with quick-cooking oats in recipes such as meatloaf, meatballs or as a bread coating or topping. Try adding sodium-free herb mixes to the oats to give more flavor.
4. Dry skin relief. The dry winter air can often cause skin to become itchy and irritated. Combat the winter chill with a soothing and relaxing oatmeal bath. Simply grind oats in a food processor until the result is a fine powder. Add 1 cup of the oat flour to a warm bath for an inexpensive and easy home remedy for dry skin.
5. Facial scrub. Skip the spa and hit the pantry instead! Combine 1 tbsp oats, 1 tsp honey and 2 tbsp plain yogurt in a small bowl for a natural face scrub. Rub the mixture gently on the face, rinse with warm water and pat dry to brighten your complexion and leave skin feeling smooth and soft.
6. Homemade heating pad. Heating pads are a simple and effective way to ease muscle pains or cramps, or even just to relax. Make your own by sewing together two pieces of cotton-based cloth such as fleece or cotton, leaving a 2-inch opening on one side. Fill halfway with oats and sew shut. Microwave for 1-3 minutes or until warm and apply to desired area.