I recently had the pleasure of visiting Flahavan’s oat mill in Kilmacthomas, Ireland. The purpose of the mill visit was the get to the know the brand better. Find out how the oats are made, meet the family (literally – it’s a family owned business for over 6 generations!) and most importantly, stuff my face with oatylicious food. We arrived at the mill to a warm welcome from the staff and family, including the managing director, John Flahavan, the great-great-great-grandson of Thomas Dunn who first took over the mill in the 1700s. It was so lovely to see inside such a successful, long-running family business and even the other staff seemed like they were part of the family too.
We were also treated to an insanely delicious spread of food. Being a vegan, I’m used to being the annoying, fussy person who can’t really eat anything and causes problems but I couldn’t believe how accommodating they were. Of all the 10 dishes on the table, I had the choice of 9 and they were all completely delicious. I never went hungry. In fact, I’m still full now. We had oat bread, oat soup, salads, veggie burgers made with oats and to top it off a mixed berry crumble. Then we got ready for our mill tour. I was suited up with an hilariously oversized white coat, a hair net and shoe covers. Very fetching ensemble altogether. Parts of the mill are very noisy and I’ll be honest and tell you I didn’t catch everything John was saying. Sorry John. But it was clear to see they put a lot of care into their oats and the smell of warm oats was divine!
First, we visited the old part of the mill where the oats are processed. I was impressed to learn that the husks removed from the oats aren’t wasted and are used to provide energy for other parts of the mill. The next steps depended on the type of oats. Pinhead oats (aka steel cut) are made by chopping the grain to make a fine oatmeal, then the pinhead oats can be rolled and steamed to create standard rolled oats and jumbo oats are steamed and rolled into large oat flakes.
Are Flahavan’s oats gluten-free?
This was one of the questions I asked during our Q&A session at the mill. I knew oats are naturally gluten-free but that due to most mill’s manufacturing methods, they are very rarely certified gluten-free because of contamination risks. This was the case for Flahavan’s, although it really is a minuscule amount of gluten and is perfectly fine for those who are gluten intolerant or avoiding gluten for other health reasons.
Bottom line: As long as you don’t have a serious gluten allergy, Flahavan’s are suitable as part of a gluten-free diet. I would liken it to using the same toaster as wheat bread to toast gluten-free bread.
Health Benefits Of Oats
- Perhaps the most famous health benefit of oats is their effect on lowering cholesterol due the soluble fibre beta-glucan. They have also been shown to help prevent heart disease.
- Healthy bowel function – All that fibre really helps keep you regular!
- Oats are sugar-stabilizing meaning they’re beneficial for preventing and managing diabetes.
- Fitness performance – Oats are becoming more and more popular amongst gym goers as their choice of carbohydrate fuel before workouts and for their favourable effect on the metabolism.
- Weight loss – Oats high fibre content make you feel fuller for longer. I can attest to this. I was absolutely stuffed during my Flahavan’s visit!
What really struck me during my visit was how much the mill is really a part of the community. Everyone I spoke to grew up in Kilmacthomas and most had been working there for a long time. At the packing department of the mill, we met this lovely man – Stephen Morrisey. He recently celebrated his 50th year working for Flahavan’s, having worked there since the company hand-packed the products before machinery! It was lovely to see and reinforced the “family” vibe of the company. So that was our tour! And didn’t we look beautiful too? Following our look around the mill, we enjoyed yet more delicious oat-filled food at the Flahavan’s family home, provided by the lovely Mary Flahavan, John’s wife. This included cakes, biscuits (the most amazing peanut butter cookies she made especially vegan!) and tea. Everyone was so welcoming, warm and hospitable. Naturally, all these oats have inspired me to create some recipes…
Flavahan’s Oats Recipes
|Breakfast Porridge Muffins||Chocolate Oat Shake|
|Oat Raisin Cookie Ice Cream||Peanut Butter Granola Bar|