The deliciously exciting food trends of 2021 included TikTok’s feta pasta, Instagrammable charcuterie boards and the traditional Nasi Goreng. That’s according to Google’s Year in Search report, at least. But alongside these intricate meals, there’s an everyday cupboard staple that piqued everyone’s interest: oats.
Yep, baked oats came up as the ninth most searched food trend in the world in 2021, while overnight oats were in at number 10. That won’t come as much of a surprise for you if you’ve been on social media this year, as baked oats went viral with all sorts of creative fillings and toppings, sparking a load of think pieces as to why (the general conscious is that people want to eat cake-like food for breakfast). Meanwhile, overnight oats aren’t a new trend but appear to have simply become a go-to for easy breakfasts – fitting, given that we were all suddenly marched back into the office, bleary-eyed after a year and a half of working from home.
In fact, according to Emma Barraclough, nutritionist and sports scientist from supplement and fitness brand Blue Fuel, 2021’s oat trend is no coincidence. “I think through the pandemic people have been increasingly health-conscious and have looked for ways to improve their diet quality easily at home,” she says. Indeed, these new jazzed up oats prove that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring and bland – oats have come a long way from their sloppy, bland beginning.
“Their protein content is also high enough that it allows the food to be labelled as a ‘source of protein’ which, as people look to rely less on animal protein sources, is appealing for many,” Barraclough adds.
The health benefits of oats
Oats are so popular in the health world because they’re chock-full of gut-loving fibre. Specifically, beta-glucan. This soluble fibre has been associated with reducing cholesterol, reducing insulin response and increasing the number of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut.
“To get the benefit of supporting a healthy cholesterol level 3g of beta-glucan needs to be eaten a day,” says Barraclough. “A standard porridge sachet, roughly 35g, contains around 1g of beta-glucan so you should try to have two servings of oats or barley in the day to get this benefit.”
A trend that actually works wonders for your health and tastes delicious is something we can get behind. If you need some oaty inspiration, we have recipes for overnight and baked oats below.
Overnight oats topped with baked pears
2 pears, skin on, core removed, chopped into chunks
1 heaped tsp allspice
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
2 tbsp mixed seeds
300ml kefir, yoghurt or milk (dairy, plant, nut or other milk)
1 grated apple with the skin on
- Mix the oats with kefir, yoghurt or milk and apples in a small mixing bowl.
- Cover and leave for two hours or ideally overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 5. Line a medium baking tray with baking paper.
- Place the pears, allspice, mixed seeds, honey or maple syrup (if using) and water in a bowl. Stir to combine.
- Place on the baking tray and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until soft.
- To serve, separate the soaked oats between 2 bowls and serve with the baked pears (either hot or cold) and a drizzle of almond butter.
- Store baked pears and overnights separately in an airtight container for up to three days.
Recipe and image courtesy of The Gut Stuff.
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