To know steel cut oats is to love them. Such is the philosophy behind Cold Spring Harbor-based Ally’s Oats, the company offering the newest, healthiest, grab-and-go snack at Rising Tide. Available in five yummy flavors (the most popular? Peanut Butter Honey, of course!), Ally’s Oats are perfect for pre- or post-workout, school snack or lunch, a quick on-the-go meal—virtually any time you need a convenient, wholesome bite with zero guilt attached. We spoke with Alison McShea, Ally’s founder, about her family legacy of steel cut oats, and why she’s so excited to share them with everyone at Rising Tide.
RT: What is the origin of Ally’s Oats?
AO: I grew up in Rockville Center in a family of 9. Back then, steel cut oats was a way for my mother to make sure we all had a hearty, healthy meal to sustain us throughout our school day. My grandmother was from Galway, Ireland and fed her family the same oats.
Now I am a single mom raising four children of my own. When I went back to work full-time, my daughter disliked the school lunch choices, so I put a pot of steel cut oats in the fridge and told her they would make a great, healthy lunch. Fast forward…she loved the oats and shared them with friends and staff. Pretty soon I was selling steel cut oats in the high school to all the students and teachers! As our followers grew, I began to research the many health benefits of Ally’s Oats. I had inherited my mother’s love of steel cut oats.
RT: What is the company’s mission?
AO: To share our love of organic steel cut oats and offer a healthy, ready-to-eat snack or meal. Ally’s Oats are full of vitamins and beta glucan, and are a source of iron, protein, and many other healthy ingredients.
RT: Who are the people behind Ally’s Oats?
AO: I am Alison McShea, the founder, and my partner is Bruce Pomper. Ally’s Organic Oats has also put together a family of enthusiastic Oat helpers. Patricia, my identical twin sister, is a great help with graphic design and business planning. Gabby is our main kitchen staff member and helps manage the kitchen.
RT: What sets Ally’s Oats products apart from other ready-to-eat products on the market?
AO: Ally’s Oats is the only organic steel cut oats, cooked and ready to eat as a meal or snack or dessert throughout the day. Most oats on the market are rolled or steamed, thus have been through a “process”. Ally’s steel cut oats have the husk still on them…this is the gold standard of oats.
RT: Who is your ideal customer?
AO: Anyone looking to eat healthy and feel good! Our steel cut oats are particularly good for anyone who is pre-diabetic or diabetic, due to its low glycemic level.
RT: What’s the latest from Ally’s Oats? Anything new and exciting in the pipeline?
AO: Ally’s Oats has just pushed into Manhattan and has signed on with several new corporations’ Health and Wellness Programs. Ally’s Oats provides employees with a healthy, balanced meal or snack that can help workers be more productive. Our company is expanding and we are looking for larger kitchen space to keep up with growing demand.
RT: How would you describe the role steel cut oats can play for those pursuing a clean, healthy lifestyle?
AO: First, steel cut oats are very low on the glycemic index, which keeps your sugar levels from spiking. Secondly, oats are a complex carb full of vitamins and protein, making them a great snack or meal before or after the gym. Steel cut oats are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber which promotes good colon health and helps you feel fuller, longer. Oats have also been reported to lower bad cholesterol.
RT: At Rising Tide, we love local! What has it meant for you to be a local, Long Island company? How do you focus on local in your business?
AO: Ally’s Oats loves being a Long Island company. We celebrate our North Shore roots by hiring local workers and working in our neighborhood church kitchen. Through our kitchen—based in Huntington N.Y.—Ally’s Oats provides a healthy snack to the homeless men who are given a warm bed, a meal and a packed lunch the next day. We are constantly exploring sourcing local vendors for honey and other ingredients.
RT: What are your healthy, go-to-snacks when not munching on Ally’s Oats?
AO: I make a large pot of chicken chili and veggies every Sunday. It’s full of fresh organic veggies, chicken, and beans. I start my day with an egg over avocado on flax bread. My treat is a piece of Hu Kitchen Dark Chocolate…yummy!
RT: What’s your favorite recipe to make using Ally’s Oats products?
AO: I love my oats on plain greek yogurt with ¼ cup of hot blueberries poured over it and walnuts to top it off. I also love my oats in a morning protein shake. It makes the shake thick and keeps me satiated.
RT: What is one fun thing about Ally’s Oats that no one would know?
AO: I cook the oats in a kitchen that is connected to an “open” room, and there’s a senior yoga class going on as I cook in the early mornings. They are all huge supporters of Ally’s Oats and are cheering us on! Ally’s Oats are cooked in an “ohm” environment. Namaste.