Did you know that January is National Oatmeal Month? I wouldn’t lie about something this momentous. Indeed, oatmeal is consumed in January at a rate unmatched in any other month.
There are many reasons to celebrate oatmeal, not the least among them, its long-appreciated health benefits. Oats boast both high protein and complex carbohydrates. Their water-soluble fiber actually improves the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and assists in a slow digestion rate, helping to maintain stable blood-glucose levels. In fact, oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain, meaning you’ll feel fuller longer, and they may even help you refrain from too much snacking (bonus!). This healthy cereal grain can even make the claim that it may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease in the ’90s, oats were on the “must avoid” list, as they were thought to contain gluten. In fact though, it was their contamination from other gluten-containing grains that caused their inclusion in the gluten category. A study in 1995 published by the New England Journal of Medicine first broke the news that oats may actually be safe for adult celiac patients.
Current medical opinions are fairly united on the fact that uncontaminated oats are safe for most celiacs, once their disease is well-controlled with a fully gluten-free diet. Still, as with any food, some people will react to oats due to allergies or a sensitivity to food proteins (avenins in oats), so it’s best to discuss with your own health practitioner how and when to introduce oats into your gluten-free diet. For more information on oats and celiac disease consult my book, The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free.
Once you have decided to introduce oats to your gluten-free diet, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. As said, we now know that that oats themselves do not contain gluten, but due to cross-contamination with gluten-containing grains, it is imperative that you buy only Certified Gluten-Free Oats if following a gluten-free diet. Oats that are not so certified, almost certainly have been contaminated in growing, milling, processing and packaging, and therefore, contain gluten.
I’m proud to announce that Jules Gluten Free now offers CERTIFIED gluten-free oats, so you can stock up when you buy your all-purpose flour and other mixes. They’re fantastically yummy, I hope you’ll try some soon!
Ok, so enough background, on to the cake! This recipe is super moist and lasts for many days if kept tightly wrapped. My kids particularly like it with ice cream, but I’m a purist. Feel free to add more or less raisins, or mix it up and use cranberries or other dried fruits instead. I have tried it with coconut palm sugar and with regular granulated sugar and there is no detectable difference, so if you’re looking to use a healthier, less-refined, lower glycemic sugar, I’d highly recommend the coconut palm! (Note: I’ve heard from many of you questioning GI ratings for coconut palm; for more information comparing the glycemic index of various brands of coconut palm, read this).
I used homemade apple butter in this recipe to reduce the fat, add moisture and contribute to the spices (plus, I’ve made A LOT of applebutter lately!). Applesauce would be just as good, but then I would increase the spices in the ingredients, since apple butter has more yummy cinnamon and spice. In fact, you may prefer more or less spice than specified in my recipe – you won’t offend me if you modify spices to suit your own tastes! My friend Kim over at GlutenFreeisLife just made this cake with a few changes like apple juice instead of cider – she baked hers in a bundt pan and her cake is so pretty – have a look!
Enjoy this recipe in honor of the lovely oat. Healthy, filling and yummy, I’m so happy to have it back in my diet!
P.S. – If you’re looking for a perfect (gluten-free) oatmeal raisin cookie, look no further. I make this cookie (too) often, and usually keep left-over dough in my freezer for oatmeal cookie emergency needs. I highly recommend it!
P.P.S.- Here’s another fun way to incorporate oatmeal into your life this month: making homemade oatmeal soap! I was playing around on the internet and found this fun “recipe” that looks to be quick enough to hold my kids’ attention, so I think I might give it a try! You could also treat yourself to a soothing oatmeal bath by grinding plain oatmeal in a blender until fine, and adding to a hot bath. Oatmeal is a wonderful moisturizer — something my dry winter skin surely appreciates!
- 10 Tbs. butter or non-dairy alternative (e.g. Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks)
- 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar (white sugar) or coconut palm sugar
- 3 eggs (or egg alternative of choice)
- 1 1/4 cup applebutter or applesauce (plus additional spices, to taste)
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup milk, dairy or non-dairy (e.g. Earth Balance® Soy Milk; So Delicious® Coconut Milk; Almond Breeze® Almond Milk)
- 1 1/2 cups Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 cups Jules Gluten Free™ Certified Gluten-Free Oats
- 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1 Tbs. baking powder, gluten-free
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. nutmeg + 1/4 tsp. cloves + 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
- 1 cup baking raisins (or boiled, then drained raisins)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Boil the apple cider, then pour in a small bowl over measured oats. Set aside.
Oil and flour (with Jules Gluten FreeTM All Purpose Flour) a bundt or tube pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts onto the bottom of the pan, if using. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs or egg substitute, then add the applebutter and milk. Beat in the flour and other dry ingredients, until fully incorporated. Lastly, stir in the cider-oats mixture and raisins until well-mixed. The batter will be thick.
Scoop batter into pan on top of the nuts lining the bottom. Smooth with a rubber spatula then bake for 60-65 minutes, or until the cake tests done with a skewer or cake tester.
Allow cake to cool slightly in pan before turning out and serving.