Is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "oats" a sweet bowl of oatmeal, maybe topped with fruit and seeds, for breakfast? That line of thinking can be limiting (and we're going to prove it).
Oats — whether steel-cut, old-fashioned or instant — are a whole grain. They fall into the same category as quinoa, brown rice, bulgur and millet, among others.
While it's commonplace to cook these whole grains in savory lunches and dinners, the same is true for oats.
Because of their minimal flavor, oats work well with savory foods, such as mushrooms, cheeses, beans and leafy greens. They're a good compliment to different types of meat and are actually a common ingredient in meatloaf recipes.
Adding oats to more savory meals like dinner not only expands your culinary repertoire, but it also provides health benefits. One cup of cooked oats provides 165 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and is a good source (provides more than 10 percent of the Daily Value) of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and thiamin.
What's more, just one cup of oats helps you meet about 15 percent of your fiber needs for the day. Oats also have a unique type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which can help with weight loss, heart health and more.
Are You Getting Enough Fiber?
So here's the proof we promised: We've pulled together six savory oat recipes for dinner. The best part is, they're made with good-for-you ingredients and contain at least 8 grams of fiber per serving.
1. Stewed Cajun Turkey, Red Beans and Oats
This recipe is a spin on the traditional Cajun dish rice and beans and it's made by swapping out the rice for oats and adding a lean protein and veggies for a more well-rounded meal.
Providing 14 grams of fiber per serving (that's a lot!), this dish meets more than half of the daily fiber needs for women and about 35 percent of the daily needs for men.
By including whole grains, vegetables and beans, you're getting a nice mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol and support weight management while insoluble fibers help keep our digestive systems regular.
Get the Stewed Cajun Turkey, Red Beans and Oats recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Savory Spinach, Tomato and Goat Cheese Pancakes
Consider this one breakfast for dinner, except these flapjacks aren't topped with fruit and whipped cream — they're savory pancakes made with tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese instead.
Here, the oats are combined with garbanzo bean flour (high in protein and fiber) to make the fluffy pancake batter. Each serving (four pancakes) provides 9 grams of fiber and has less than 400 calories.
The combo of grape tomatoes and fresh baby spinach is a smart play. Spinach is a source of iron, and pairing it with vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes helps increase the absorption of the mineral, as explained by the National Institutes of Health.
Get the Savory Spinach, Tomato and Goat Cheese Pancakes recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs
These plant-based meatballs are a mash-up of healthy whole foods like lentils, mushrooms, oats, eggs and fresh herbs and spices. It's because of the lentils, mushroom and oats that this dish provides 9 grams of fiber per serving, along with 21 grams of protein.
You won't miss the meat with this one — mushrooms have an umami flavor that mimics meat. On top of that, umami enhances the appeal and satiety of the meal and makes the dish more flavorful overall, according to the Mushroom Council.
This dish calls for crimini mushrooms, which are available at many supermarkets but you can also use shiitake, portabella or white button to obtain a strong umami flavor.
Get the Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs recipe at Cookie + Kate.
4. Asian-Style Oatmeal With Egg, Scallions and Tamari
You can enjoy this for breakfast or dinner — either way, you're getting a well-balanced meal that provides 8 grams of fiber.
Cooking the steel-cut oats in the vegetable broth gives this dish a savory base to build on by topping with scallions, ginger, eggs, tamari soy sauce and black sesame seeds.
Tamari is like traditional soy sauce but with a few notable differences: It has a richer flavor and can be used in place of soy sauce if you're gluten-free. Just make sure to check the label beforehand to ensure it's truly gluten-free.
Oats are a gluten-free grain but like tamari, you have to read the packaging to ensure the product is in fact gluten-free since oats can become contaminated with gluten from other crops when they're growing and being harvested in the field.
Get the Asian-Style Oatmeal With Egg, Scallions and Tamari recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Steel-Cut Oat 'Risotto' With Butternut Squash and Kale
This savory squash risotto swaps Arborio rice for oats. A 160-calorie serving of Arborio rice provides one gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein, while the same calorie serving of oats provides four times the fiber (4 grams) and more than twice the protein (6.6 grams).
Traditional risotto is made with Arborio rice, butter, white wine, broth and cheese, which all taste delicious but are not the healthiest combination of ingredients.
That said, by following this recipe, you're adding in ample servings of vegetables to help balance out the meal and add more flavor and fiber, too. Each serving provides 13 grams of filling fiber.
Get the Steel-Cut Oat 'Risotto' With Butternut Squash and Kale recipe at Cookie + Kate.
6. Mexican Black Bean and Avocado Oatmeal
Swap Taco Tuesdays for this savory Mexican black bean and avocado bowl of oats. Because of its brothy, whole-grain base, this dish is perfect for dinner during the colder fall or winter months.
This vegan dish calls for vegetable broth, black beans, rolled oats and avocado and still manages to offer 24 grams of protein per serving, along with 27 grams of fiber!
Part of the reason this dish is so high in fiber is because of the avocado. Yes, we often think of them as a high-fat food but they're packed with fiber, too. One avocado has 17 grams of carbohydrates, 13.5 of which are fiber, according to the USDA. And yes, there are 25 grams of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, too.
Get the Mexican Black Bean and Avocado Oatmeal recipe and nutrition info here.