One of the questions I get asked and see most on forums and social media is ‘are oats gluten-free?’. It’s confusing, especially if you are new to being gluten-free. So here goes… Everything you need to know about oats but were slightly scared to ask!
What Are Oats?
First things first. What are oats?
Oats, AKA Avena sativa, are a cereal grain grown for its seed (also known as oats). Oats are often eaten as oatmeal and rolled oats and in cooking and baking. Oats are also very commonly used as livestock feed.
Like most cereals and pseudo-cereals oats contain a protein. In the case of oats, this protein is called avenin.
What Is Gluten?
And, you probably know this but here’s a quick recap on gluten…
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
Gluten, the protein, is the composite of gliadin and glutelin, which is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of some grass-related grains. The prolamin and glutelin from constitute about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed.
Gluten gives a stretch and elasticity to dough and other baked goods, helping them to rise and to keep their shape. Gluten gives bread its distinctive taste and chewy texture. There are lots of ‘normal’ everyday foods and ingredients that you would not expect to contain gluten – but do. For example, some soya sauce, baking powder and breakfast cereal contain gluten. Always check the ingredients!
Are Oats Gluten-Free?
The short answer is yes BUT no. It’s not clear cut. I’ll explain.
Are Oats Gluten-Free? – Protein!!!
Oats are technically gluten-free however, here’s what you need to know.
- The protein present in oats (avenin) can trigger a reaction in a small proportion of those who have coeliac/ celiac disease.
In most parts of the world medics are content that gluten-free oats can be included in the diets of those with coeliac diesease. In some parts of the world e.g. Australia oats of any description are NOT considered to be gluten-free.
Are Oats Gluten-Free? Well, It Depends How They’re Grown And Processed
The key to gluten-free oats is how they are grown and processed
- ‘Normal’ oats tend to be grown in fields that are surrounded by gluten containing grains and there may be seeds spread by adjacent crops. These seeds can germinate and grow amongst the oat crop
- ‘Normal’ oats are milled and processed in facilities where wheat, barley and rye are processed and are cross-contaminated. The floury dust you see on ‘normal’ oats is usually flour
- Gluten-free oats are oats grown away from potential gluten contaminants and are processed in dedicated gluten-free facilities.
So, it’s not simple but I hope this gives you enough information to make an informed choice. I eat gluten-free oats but I avoid oat milk (funny things happen to me with oat milk). Oat milk has become oh so fashionable in cafes and restarurants as the non-dairy alternative This really ticks me off. For many reasons, one being that many brands of oat milk are not gluten-free. It also makes horrible coffee. Anyhow…
Are Oats Gluten-Free? Alternatives To Oats
If you want to remove oats and will miss your porridge or oatmeal, there are lots of alternatives to oats for your breakfast cereal, cooking and baking.
- Rice is a great alternative to oats. I often eat rice flakes as a porridge and puffed rice as a breakfast cereal. Especially when I am having stomach trouble. Rice flour is also very useful in cooking and baking
- Amaranth is rich in iron, potassium, calcium and protein. Amaranth has a mild, nutty, earthy flavour. Simmer the grain on the hob to make a porridge. Use the flour to make crepes and pancakes
- Teff is also rich in iron and calcium. The grains can be used to make a porridge. It is also fabulous in baking. Injeera (a fabulous flatbread make from teff flour) is one of my favourite things when I go to local markets
- Buckwheat is another seed full of minerals. Buckwheat is also super flexible and fabulous in cooking and baking and as porridge
- We all know quinoa! Quinoa is great as a porridge and great in cooking and baking and as a side
- Millet is much under-rated and packed with minerals, including phosphorus and magnesium. Depending how you cooki millet it can be smooth and creamy or light and fluffy. Millet is fabulously flexible and utterly delicious.
Are Oats Gluten-Free? Not Sure You Can Tolerate Oats
If you are having issues with your stomach and are eating gluten-free oats. One way to narrow your down any link between what you are eating and your symptoms is to keep a food diary. A food diary will help you monitor your food intake and any symptoms over several weeks/ months. This is a really useful item to take with you to a medical appointment.
I have a FREE Food Diary you can download. Just click the button below to sign-up and download.
Are Oats Gluten-Free? Fabulous Recipes
Personally, I eat gluten-free oats. I eat them once or twice a week. Here are some of my favourite recipes with gluten-free oats. Plus some recipes with oat alternatives to give you some ideas for the future.
Are Oats Gluten-Free? Delectable Gluten-Free Oat Recipes
I’ll start with one of my favourite recipes containing oats: Uber Rich Chocolate and Strawberry Brownies. Rich, moist, dark, chocolatey (and easy!). Just bloody lovely.
Let’s go back to breakfast with Apple and Hazelnut Overnight Oats. You can easily sub the oats here for any other grain you like.
Sticking with breakfast I am also a huge fan of Almond and Raspberry Breakfast Smoothie. So easy to pull together and take with you on a busy day.
This is one of my favourite breakfasts, hands down, I really look forward to a fresh batch of Crunchy Cranberry and Cinnamon Granola. Super crunchy, super tasty, easy and low in sugar.
For sweet treats I usually have a batch of these Amazing Chocolate and Raspberry Goodness Muffins in the freezer. They are great when you need a mid-afternoon reviver with a cup of tea.
Are Oats Gluten-Free? Delectable Alternatives To Oat Recipes
So, you want to move on from oats but don’t know where to look. These are recipes using oat alternative ingredients. To use these seeds and grains in breakfast you can soak them or cook them. They are all great cooked as porridge or served as a side dish.
Let’s start with rice. Does it sound a bit weird to think about eating rice for breakfast? Yeh! It might. But think about it. We’ve all eaten rice pudding for breakfast so go a bit fancier and try Lemongrass and Ginger Rice Pudding for breakfast. An amazing way to wake up!!!
Buckwheat is great as a porrridge and absolutely fantabulous as two ingredient Buckwheat Pancakes. They are thin, crepe like pancakes that are perfect covered in chocolate spread.
This Gluten-Free, Vegan Flatbread has quite a large proportion of buckwheat in too. I love this as a side with houmous but also for breakfast with marmalade.
Quinoa and millet are super easy to cook and are great grains for anytime of day. Fluffy, nutty quinoa and millet (it’s like mini-popcorn) can be used as the base for breakfast with fruit, nuts, seeds and non-dairy yogurt.
What Are Your Favourite Ways to Eat Oats – OR – Your Favourite Oat Alternatives?
There are bound to be lots more amazing recipes with gluten-free oats or oat alternatives – this is my tiny, tiny selection of ideas.
What are your Top Tips For Oat/ Alternative Recipes In Your Gluten-Free, Vegan Kitchen? Drop a comment below or ping me on social media! 🙂
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