Old Fashioned (Gluten-Free) Oats

by Maria Theresa Maggi on July 11, 2013

gluten free oats, buckwheat groats, pineapple, raspberry, almond milk

I’m a big fan of Engine 2.  Way back when I first read Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and before Rip Esselstyn was the poster man for plant strong eating he is today, I was also a fan of  “The Esselstyn Breakfast” in the recipe section of that book. It’s the basic template  for what is now famously known as “Rip’s Big Bowl.” I’ve long made my own simpler gluten-free version which doesn’t use any boxed cereals at all, with a rotating cast of fruity characters. Nothing could be simpler, or healthier. So I was a bit surprised to see that now you can buy the whole shebang in a box.

At the risk of sounding a little like Gilda Radner’s character  Emily Litella on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, what’s all this about Rip’s big hole in his socks? It’s serial obscenity! And we are too lenient!! Emily Litella would rant on like this until Chevy Chase would tap her on the shoulder repeatedly to get her attention and correct her.No, he’d say.  It’s an amenity. It’s convenient. And it’s breakfast cereal in a box.

Oh, she would say. Well. That’s different.  And then the famous: “Never mind.”

But I heard it right the first time. And still can’t resist just the tiniest of rants. I know people are busy, but come on. How long does it take to throw raw oats in a bowl and cut up a banana and pour almond milk and cinnamon over them? I rest my old-fashioned case.

My current strategy is to mash up half a banana in the bottom of the bowl first. Any time of year, I like to put some raw buckwheat groats in with my rolled oats on top of the mashed banana.  A sprinkle of cinnamon and cardamom. A little pineapple if I’ve got it. And this time of year fresh raspberries or strawberries from the garden. Last week I splurged on  some fresh figs.  A teaspoon of ground golden flax on the top. It just doesn’t get more simple, whole, or delicious. No serial socks, er, I mean cereal box needed. If you’d like this strategy in recipe form, here is it:

If you’re needing to be extra strict about losing weight,  it might matter to you that the raw oats in a “big bowl” are slightly more calorie dense than cooked oatmeal. But it’s all good, and all good for you, whichever way you go. Although I wish Engine 2 all the best with its launch of healthy packaged foods, in my humble opinion, you don’t need a prepackaged box. You just need the bowl. I’m so convinced about the basic goodness of oats I even included a sonnet about them in my chapbook if a sparrow.  (I originally wrote this sonnet for a poetry contest on the Engine 2 site. I got a little too big for my britches, I guess, and thought for sure I’d be a shoe-in, but in the end the judges caved, saying everybody’s poem was good, and picked a winner randomly. It wasn’t me.) No worries.  “Old Fashioned Oats” will appear in old-fashioned print this Fall. And you get to read it now.

So here’s a plant-strong sneak preview from if a sparrow. Oatmeal, unboxed:

Old Fashioned Oats

Rolled whole in your trim, sedate suit, steamed gray
(uncooked I’d call you sandy, even tweed),
you grace my plain clear bowl with elegance.
Classic, never going out of style,
you deftly accommodate the passing blush
of peaches, the deep night sheen of berries.
Banana buttons are always at home
on your tasteful lapel. Understated,
you hold breakfast together. Even flax
knows you welcome its brash buttered accents.
With sophisticated ease, almond milk
presses a pale cheek to yours, like pearls on silk.
You make us all look like a million bucks.


Thanks, Rip, for the brilliant idea of the big bowl.  To you and Engine 2, I raise my old-fashioned oat-filled spoon.

Maria (moonwatcher)

Leave a Comment

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leslie Ohanessian July 11, 2013 at 9:35 am

You can make this the night before but add your fruit and nuts in the morning! I make Overnight Oats with 1/3 cup oats, 1/2 almond milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon raw organic honey (or organic maple syrup), mix well refrigerate overnight and add berries or diced apple and 2 tablespoons of a mix of organic sprouted buckwheat groats and organic sprouted flax seeds, I also add chopped raw almonds or walnuts. The possibilities of what you can add are endless, how about a tropical bowl with pineapple, shaved coconut and hazel or brazil nuts? Yummy!


2 moonwatcher July 11, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hi Leslie and welcome! Thanks for your comment. Yes! You can totally do it that way!! I used to make Overnight Oats all the time, based on a recipe from Lorna Sass in Short Cut Vegetarian. I just got into doing it this way, and it works for me. Yours sound yummy too!! I agree, the possibilities are endless!


3 Susan Voisin July 11, 2013 at 11:13 am

I love the poem as well as your imagined Gilda Radner skit! I may have to give this a try, though even in this heat, oatmeal is the one thing I like hot. Coincidentally, I had a bowl this morning, my first in ages because I wanted to use the 1/3 cup of blueberries we picked from our small bush, and as it was cooking I wondered if there was any way to make something so simple into a blog post. Yours looks much more elaborate (and therefore blogworthy!) 🙂


4 moonwatcher July 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

Thanks, Susan!! I had a lot of fun writing the poem and also pretending to be Gilda Radner!! So “cool” you happened to have oatmeal this morning. 🙂 You made me laugh about my elaborations, because I always believe my bowl of oats or a salad is going to be less elaborate, but once I get into it I can’t help creating an “assemblage”of art I can eat!! LOL 🙂 That is so fantastic you got to use your own blueberries. I would love to be able to say that!!


5 Donna McFarland July 12, 2013 at 1:59 am

Brilliant Maria!Both the lovely poem, and the “big bowl” rendition! I too, require the gluten free way, so this is quite refreshing, how you’ve done your simple magic on it-yayyy!Thank you 🙂

One question for you re the buckwheat groats…they don’t require rinsing ? Boy, have I been wasting a lot of time then. Can’t wait to try this, ~THIS way!


6 moonwatcher July 12, 2013 at 8:46 am

Hi Donna, I guess I missed the directive to rinse my buckwheat groats, because I’ve never done it. I really like the taste of the raw, untoasted ones I can get at my co-op, but roasted ones will also work. (True confessions: once I found out the quinoa sold in bulk at my co-op is not bitter if I don’t rinse it, I stopped rinsing that too. A mistake suddenly made my life easier. If there’s a lazy way to do it, I’ll find it!) 🙂


7 Tami @Nutmeg Notebook July 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm

My hubby and I make our own version of Rips Big Bowl as well and we just love it. For a recent road trip we measured everything out into individual baggies and took it with us as well as our own almond milk, paper bowls and plastic spoons so we could start each day off right!

Nice poem. 🙂


8 moonwatcher July 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Hi Tami, welcome! (Great blog name BTW, I will have to check it out)–Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve done this too, and I agree it’s a great way to start the day anywhere! I’m happy to know you liked the poem too. 🙂


9 GINGER CHLD July 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Deffinately mash the banana first! I’ve been doing this for years, also! YUM! One day I was too hungry or hot to cook the oasts, and voila! raw oatmeal! Love your poem!


10 moonwatcher July 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Welcome, Ginger, and thanks for this comment. Yes, indeed mash the banana first! I love how you discovered the tastiness of raw oats, too. And so glad you loved the poem. 🙂


11 Carole July 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hello, would you mind terribly is I printed this out and framed it to hang in my kitchen. Oats has been such a blessing to me and I would be lost without it. Love your poem! I am with Susan and got a tickly out of your Gilda skit! I have been vegan know for a year. Fell off for a few months but back again and really thrilled to have these wonderful blogs to motivate me! However, I have never heard of groats. Does it taste like oatmeal? Is it easily found? TY.


12 Carole July 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Sorry about the spelling errors. They hopped in without my looking. No spell check. 🙁


13 moonwatcher July 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm

No worries 🙂


14 moonwatcher July 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Welcome, Carole! Thank you for your comment. I’d be honored if you would hang my poem in your kitchen! If you’d like to read more, you can preorder the whole chapbook here:https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?products_id=1732. To get the skinny on buckwheat groats, I hope you’ll check out my post “In Praise of Buckwheat Groats” https://fatfreevegan.com/slowmiracle/2012/11/05/in-praise-of-buckwheat-groats/ There you’ll find a “Fall” version of the big bowl. They are a little more “nutty” tasting then oatmeal. I use them like Grape Nuts. 🙂 Glad you got a kick out of my Gilda Radner bit too. 🙂


15 Marge Evans July 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm

it is ridiculous. after clicking on the link and reading the ingredient list there is so much more salt and sugar in the box compared to the d.i.y version, plus all the extra packaging. #fail


16 moonwatcher July 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Thanks, Marge, you made me laugh with the “#fail”– that is something my son would do. 🙂 Thanks for ranting with me!!


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