Get to Know Your Oats
We know oats are good for us; they have calcium, vitamins B and E, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and thiamine. Rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber, they can help with weight loss, a healthy digestive system and preventing heart disease. Oats also help control blood sugar and reduce LDL cholesterol.
But when scanning store shelves, shoppers may get a bit confused about the oat choices available.
Where do oats come from?
Oat Groat: The basic form of oats with the inedible husk removed from the kernel. It’s chewy and requires more soaking. Oat groats are ground to make oat flour.
Steel Cut Oats: These are just oat groats cut into pieces for faster cooking. With steel cut, plan for cooking 20 to 30 minutes on the stove. This chewier variety is great for making overnight oats, as well. A typical formula is 3 to 4 parts liquid to 1 part oats.
Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats: This takes oats to the next level, by steaming and rolling them, which speeds up the cooking process. Plan for 5 minutes on the stove and aim for 2 parts liquid to 1 part oats, or maybe even less to avoid soupy results. These are great in muffins, cookies and granola bars.
Quick-Cooking Oats: Also steamed and rolled, smoother quick-cooking varieties are thinner, meaning only 1 to 3 minutes of cooking time.
Instant Oats: These are cut, cooked, dried, steamed and flattened. Instant oats are the kind you find in ready-to-mix packets. Just watch to be sure all the additional ingredients don’t undo your healthy benefits.
Whatever type you try, all oatmeal is gluten free and 100% whole grain.
How to Use Oats
Of course, there’s the classic bowl of hot oatmeal. You can cook it on the stovetop or pop it in the microwave. Or make a week’s worth in the slow cooker and wake up to an already warm bowl fixed to your tastes. For a single serving, why not put the ingredients in a Mason jar and let it prep in the refrigerator overnight?
Oatmeal will give you guilt-free goodies such as muffins, breads and cookies. Customize with your family favorites like cinnamon, apples, pears, walnuts, raisins or bananas. Or go for the ultimate with chocolate chips and peanut butter.
But oats aren’t just for breakfast! Use them wherever you’d add breadcrumbs like meatloaf, breading for meats, or burger patties (or plant-based burgers or meatballs).