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Monday, July 18, 2011

WHAT IS JAI? OATS - HISTORY,USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS: PEACH CRUMBLE RECIPE

OATS, JAI, AVENS SATIVA
In the ancient world, oats were looked down upon by the ancient Greeks and Romans as being fit only for animal fodder. Indeed the Romans belittled the Germanic tribes who were to destroy the might of the Roman Empire as “oat-eating barbarians.” They did, however along with the ancient Greeks, understand that an oat bath could help the skin if a person had eczema or burns, or just dry and irritated skin. Today oats are used in cosmetics, and an oatmeal face mask will rejuvenate tired skin. You can make your own by blending oats and water into a paste and applying to your face; after 20 minutes rinse the oat face pack off your face with tepid water.
Oat groats
  Alexander the Great is said to have fed his horse only on oats to make it strong, but even though the ancients recognized that oats were good for animals, they didn’t want to eat them themselves. Perhaps because of this antipathy towards them, oats were the last of the world’s major grains to be domesticated.
  They have of course come into the English language, as in the phrase “to sow your wild oats” meaning to have a good a time as possible while young so that you will have got wildness out of your system by the time you marry. It is used for bachelors and to imply that they can have as many sexual relationships as they can before marriage.
   Oats are thought to have originated in Asia, possibly in Turkey and perhaps came from the wild red oat. They were regarded as weeds as they frequently grew in fields planted with the more esteemed barley and wheat. They were used in medicine long before they were used as a foodstuff for humans, and even now, only 5 % of the oats grown in the world are destined for human consumption. Oats are used for pasture, hay and silage.
  The oldest remains of oat grains were found dating back to 2000BC in ancient Egypt, but is unclear as to whether or not they were just weeds or cultivated oats. They were cultivated in Bronze Age Switzerland (1,500-500 BC) and were cultivated in northern countries, including Britain and Scandinavia as a staple grain crop in Mediaeval times. The Scots colonists took them to North America in 1602 and planted the first oats on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. The Scots took to eating oats and of course, oat porridge is traditionally eaten for breakfast. Samuel Johnson in his dictionary comments that oats “are eaten by people in Scotland, but fit only for horses in England.” It should be noted that the English of that time considered their Welsh, Scottish and Irish neighbours as being in some way inferior to them.
  The problem with oats was that they tend to go rancid quickly after harvesting because of their natural fat content and the fat dissolving enzyme present in the grain. They are now processed as soon as they are harvested in order to preserve them.
  There is an old nursery rhyme querying how things grow which goes like this:-
      “Oats, peas, beans and barley grow,
       Oats, peas, beans and barley grow, 
         Can you or I or anyone know
       How oats, peas, beans and barley grow?”
 This shows how much oats and the other crops mentioned were staples in the British diet.
  As with barley, there are different types of oats that you can buy, but the best in terms of nutrition and health benefits are the ones which have undergone the least processing, so there is very little nutritional value in Instant Oats, or Quick oats. The Irish groats or steel-cut groats are good as they are firmer than rolled oats. They are good for hot cereals such as porridge and for musli. You should soak them before using them though, preferably overnight. Oat bran is used in bread and rolled oats can be ground at home to make flour which is gluten-free.
  Oats can be used as a topping on fruit crumbles as well as in biscuits, breads and cakes. They can also be added to soups and stews.
  In traditional medicine in Northern Europe, oats were used for the skin and conditions such as eczema as described above. They were given to patients recovering from an illness in the form of what was called “gruel” although this was not just water and oats as the name might imply. The basic ingredients were water and oats, but sugar, lemons, wine and raisins were added and this gruel was used to relieve anxiety, as a stimulant, and was easy to digest when someone had a fever. It was believed to soothe inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract also.
rolled oats
  Baths with oatmeal in them were not only for skin problems but used to cure insomnia, and to relieve anxiety. Oats were considered an aphrodisiac by some (believe it or not), and were used to cure constipation, as they are packed with dietary fibre and for diarrhoea too. They contain silica which is good for mails, hair, skin, bones and connective tissue. They were considered good for rheumatism as they have anti-inflammatory properties, and for stomach problems, as well as for gallbladder and kidney ailments.
  Now we understand them more, we know that they might be good for diabetics, as they control blood sugar levels and their insoluble fibres help to protect the gastro-intestinal tract from carcinogens. They are also believed to be good for the cardio-vascular system and may reduce the risks of heart disease and may also protect against certain cancers such as prostate and breast cancer.  Like barley they contain beta-glucan which may speed up the body’s response to infection and so result in faster healing.  Oats can help reduce bad cholesterol in the blood and also protect the cardio-vascular system.
  Oats contain lignans, as do flax seeds and pumpkin seeds, coffee, tea, red wine and nuts which are linked to decreased risk of hormone related cancers such as ovarian cancer, breast and prostate cancers. They also contain tocotrienols which are potent antioxidants and which together with tocophanols combine to make vitamin E. Oats also contain some of the B-complex vitamins and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. They contain 18 amino acids and the minerals selenium, potassium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium phosphorous and boron.
  Having oats or barley in your diet can significantly lower the risks of some diseases.


PEACH CRUMBLE
Ingredients
Topping
250 gr flour, sifted
75 gr rolled oats
200 gr butter
125 gr unrefined brown sugar
1 tbsp crushed almonds

Filling
1½ lbs fresh peaches, peeled and stoned, cut into slices
2 inch cinnamon stick broken in two
½  cup stoned dates (optional)
glass white wine

Method
Rub the flour and butter together until the mixture is like breadcrumbs then rub in the remaining ingredients.
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 / 180°C / 350°F.
In a greased dish layer the peach slices and dates, and add the spices.
Top with the crumble mixture and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.
Serve hot or cold with fresh cream, ice cream or custard.
This has Taste and is a Treat.




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