Nutrition Science is ever-evolving and recommendations are continuously being improved upon, and right now protein recommendations are under review. Following a plant-based diet can sometimes leave some of us a bit short on our protein needs – and no better place to start improving on this than with breakfast. This recipe for Simple Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana offers 21g of protein per serve, which is a decent amount for most people.
High-Quality Plant-Based Protein
Current protein recommendations for the general population are 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. For the average woman, this may be around 50-60 grams per day and for men 60-70 grams. There are many factors that are used to determine if a higher protein intake is required- this can include age (muscle synthesis decreases with age), activity level, if you are following a strict plant-based diet, and health status.
If you would like to figure out your exact protein requirements speak to a Registered Dietitian or another healthcare professional. For most people, aiming for at least 15-20g of protein per meal is a good start.
A Great Meal-Prep Breakfast
Due to their long cooking time steel-cut oats make an ideal make-ahead breakfast. Make a big batch of them on a Sunday night and have breakfast ready for the rest of the week. Steel-cut oats will stay good for a week in the fridge. They taste great cold or re-heated; simply double the below recipe and add more milk or milk alternative in the morning to thin it out.
Keep You Full All Morning
Steel-cut oats are the least processed type of oat. The groats, which is the whole grain that includes the germ and fibre-rich bran portion, as well as the endosperm (which is the usual product of milling), are simply hulled, toasted and then chopped into 3-4 little sections.
Their larger surface area takes longer to break down, making them a slow release of energy compared to regular oats which can be broken down more quickly. This is great for curbing pre-lunch hunger, or for those following a diabetic-friendly eating plan.
High In Fibre
Steel-cut oats are higher in fibre compared to traditional rolled oats, with 8g of fibre per 1/2 cup raw serve. Oats contain soluble fibre, which is an important fibre that has been shown to help regular blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The Health Benefits of Eating Oats
Oats and The Benefits On Cholesterol Levels
Oats are one of the best sources of the fibre β-glucan which are known for their cholesterol-lowering abilities. A recent analysis found that an intake of oat β-glucan at daily doses of at least 3 grams might reduce plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 5-10% (1).
Steel-Cut Oats and Blood Sugar Stabilization
While steel-cut oats are a low glycemic index food, rolled oats are also considered a low glycemic index food though to a lesser extent compared to steel-cut oats. Regular rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed and flattened. The partial cooking process and increase in processing increase the glycemic index compared to steel-cut oats. Instant oats are partially cooked and cut even smaller, making them a medium glycemic index food.
The Benefits of Oats on Gut Health
Oats are a good source of resistant starch, which is well known for its role in gut health. Good gut health has been linked to better immune function, and could possibly play a role in diabetes and obesity prevention. Resistant starch is present in cooked and cooled oats, as well as cooled potato and rice, and hot legumes and barley. A diet high in resistant starch has been found to increase populations of friendly bacteria in the gut (2).
Steel-Cut Oats Are Highest In Protein
Steel-cut oats can help us meet our daily protein needs. A half-cup serving of steel-cut oats contains 10g of protein, where a 1/2 cup serving of traditional oats contains 7g. Protein is important for muscle synthesis, immune function, blood sugar stabilization and overall good health.
How Long Do Steel-Cut Oats Take To Cook?
Steel-cut oats take at least 25-30 minutes to cook. At 25 minutes I find they are nice and tender, but if you go the extra 5 minutes this is where the creamy oatmeal begins to form. The longer the cooking time, the thicker your oatmeal will be.
How To Make No-Cook Steel-Cut Oats?
Hate the thought of stirring the pot? Bring one part oats to three parts liquid to the boil, cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat and leave to sit overnight. Your oats will be ready in the morning, no stirring required.
How To Make Sugar-Free Steel-Cut Oats?
I love adding mashed banana to my steel-cut oats in place of sugar, honey or maple syrup. If you choose to omit the mashed banana, you may need 1/2 tsp of unpasteurized honey or real maple syrup per serving, both of which have a lower glycemic index then regular sugar or cane sugar.
What Makes These Steel-Cut Oats High In Protein?
One of my favourite ways to get a good amount of protein at breakfast is by adding hemp hearts. A serving of 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts contains 6 grams of protein, which is as much as an egg. Homemade hemp milk is much higher in protein than the store-bought variety, see my simple recipe for Homemade Hemp Milk here). Peanut butter at a 1 tablespoon serving provides an additional 4 grams of protein.
Making It Gluten-Free
Steel-cut oats are naturally gluten-free, though those with celiac disease will need to make sure they purchase certified gluten-free oats, as oats can become contaminated during their processing.
Making It Vegan
This recipe is naturally vegan, just make sure to use maple syrup (not honey).
How To Increase The Protein
To add more plant-based protein to this meal, sprinkle on some sliced almonds or chopped walnuts. Option to also stir in 1 scoop of plant-based protein powder into the already cooked steel-cut oats for a further protein boost.
What Other Milk Alternatives Can I Use?
This recipe uses homemade Hemp Milk which contains 10 grams of protein per cup. Don’t have time to make homemade high-protein Hemp Milk? Try using Organic Soy or Peamilk which both contain 8 grams of protein per serving.
High Protein Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup hemp milk homemade (+more for serving)
- 1/2 cup steel-cut oats dry
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 banana* (+ 1 for serving)
- 2 tbsp peanut butter natural
- 1 tbsp maple syrup real (optional)
- 4 tbsp hemp hearts
- Heat a saucepan with water, hemp milk, salt and oats in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles form. Turn down the heat to medium-low and let the oats simmer with the lid half-on for 25-30 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add it to the oats. Continue to cook on a reduced heat, making sure to stir often. I find that for the first 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes is sufficient. Increasing stirring frequency the longer the oats are cooking.
- You know the oats are finished when they are nice and creamy. Remove them from the heat and add the peanut butter, maple syrup and hemp hearts. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is well blended.
- This dish is great as leftovers for the following morning. Simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. In the morning add a splash of milk or milk alternative and eat cold or reheated.
- Option to serve the oatmeal with an additional sliced banana, divided over the two serves. I also like drizzling some peanut butter on top and add a splash of hemp milk.
Making Gluten-Free Steel-Cut OatsPurchase certified gluten-free oats, as oats can become contaminated during their processing.
Making Vegan Steel-Cut OatsThis recipe is naturally vegan, just make sure to use maple syrup (not honey).
How To Increase The Protein In These Steel-Cut OatsSprinkle on some sliced almonds or chopped walnuts. Option to also stir in 1 scoop of plant-based protein powder into the already cooked steel-cut oats for a further protein boost.
What Other Milk Alternatives Can I Use?Try using Organic Soy or Peamilk which both contain 8 grams of protein per serving.
2) Tanja V. Maier, Marianna Lucio, Lang Ho Lee, Nathan C. VerBerkmoes, et al. (2017). Impact of Dietary Resistant Starch on the Human Gut Microbiome, Metaproteome, and Metabolome. American Society for Microbiology