Oatmeal is known and loved by people pretty much everywhere. Children and adults around the world eat it for breakfast. Although a steaming bowl of oatmeal is usually associated with winter, it doesn’t mean it’s only consumed in colder climes. Even under the tropical sun of the Dominican Republic, oatmeal is used in the preparation of refreshing drinks that combine fruit juice and oats as well as the more familiar hot breakfast cereal.
Elsewhere, oatmeal sometimes appears as an ingredient in dishes other than cereal and drinks. It’s an important ingredient in haggis, the traditional Scottish delicacy consisting of a sheep’s stomach stuffed with the sheep’s own heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices… definitely not for the faint-hearted!
Along with its northern European neighbours, Scotland is also one of the countries with the strongest tradition of consuming oatmeal, starting with the classic Scottish porridge. Come to think of it, porridge is about as emblematic to Scots as mangú is to Dominicans. Other oatmeal-based foods include Scottish oatcakes (savoury crackers).
A couple of decades ago, oatmeal was promoted from its long-time status as a good old fashioned, staid comfort food to a more glamorous standing as an A-list health food. This happened after its healthy properties became widely known. The most startling revelation was that oat bran in the diet was proved to reduce cholesterol because of its soluble fibre content. It’s also a rich source of B vitamins. Since then, oatmeal and especially oat bran became regular features of healthier versions of cakes, cookies, flapjacks and fruit crumbles. Muesli, the oat-based cereal from Germany and Switzerland, has become an almost universal healthy breakfast option well beyond its countries of origin.
Oatmeal porridge can be made with water or milk, and some people add butter or cream. It can be sweetened with sugar, honey or maple syrup, enhanced with dried fruit like raisins, and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or allspice. Some varieties of porridge are served salty rather than sweet. It even has its place in popular folklore, most notably in the classic children’s story Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Jugo de Avena is a refreshing and nutritional beverage that requires little preparation. It's the perfect breakfast drink for the summertime and a favorite among little kids.
- 1 cup of oatmeal (whole, not instant)
- 1 qrt of skim milk
- 1 cup of sugar (you might not use all of it)
- Juice from 3 limes
- 2 cups of ice (optional)
- Mix the milk and oatmeat. Blend at high speed for 3 minutes. Sieve to get rid of solids.
- Add sugar to taste.
- Chill in the freezer (it has to be very cold, or it will curdle).
- Remove from the freezer and add the ice, stir.
- Slowly pour the lime juice into the oatmeal mix stirring constantly.
- Serve immediately.
I have tried versions of these without milk (substitute water for milk), or without lime. My favorite includes both, feel free to experiment.