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The Many Forms of a Oat

Oatmeal is very popular in the health community.  It’s a great whole grain which offers many health benefits including it being a complex carb that is good for your cholesterol, rich in fiber, antioxidants, and great for your heart.  I’ve mention before why I think everyone should be eating oatmeal for breakfast ,top it off with a bit of protein and its the true breakfast of champions.  The breakfast aisle has a variety of packaged oatmeal’s like cinnamon roll, peaches and cream, apples and cinnamon, the varieties are abound.  Stay clear from these instant oatmeal flavored packages all together, the best option is to and buy a container of plain oats.  There is variety in plain oats too, which come in multiple forms.  In order to pick out which one you want to cook with we must learn about the many from of plain oats (groats): steel cut, Scottish, rolled oats(regular or old fashioned) and instant.  What are the differences between these form of oats and does the nutrition value vary?types-of-oats

When oats are harvested: removed from the hull and stalked they are called a grain kernel, the the kernel gets broken down and depending on how processed the kernel the cooking time decreases.  Once milled, where the outer shell (hull) is removed from the oats, oats are steamed, heated and cooled in a kiln, which brings out their nutty flavor. The oats are then processed by either being rolled, cut or ground to produce flakes, oatmeal or flour.

  • Whole oat groats are the whole oat kernel that has had the inedible hull removed.  These oats take the longest to cook at about one hour.
  • Steel cut oats are cut into a few pieces by a metal blade, these take about 45 minutes to cook.
  • Scottish Oatmeal is stone-ground , and the the kernel is crushed into multiple irregular pieces, a method that originated in Scotland centuries ago.  The finer the oats the quicker they cook, these take about ten minutes.
  • Rolled oats (old fashioned) are made by steaming the kernel and then rolling them into flakes.  This process stabilizes their healthy oils and extends their self life, all without compromising their health benefits.  During the steaming process the oat partially cooks, this allows the oat to cook much faster later on, generally about five minutes.
  • Quick or instant oats, these oats have been rolled thinner so they will cook even faster.

Usually we view processed as a bad term, but when it come to oatmeal the degree in which the oats are processed does not affect their nutritional value.  Steel cut, Scottish, old-fashioned, and quick oats are all made from whole grains and contain approximately the same amount of fiber, protein, calories, and other nutrients.  Rolling the oats and then steaming them make it so that they can be cooked in just minutes.  You should make you decision based on what type of texture you want your oatmeal to have, how much time you have to cook them, or weather you are using it in a recipe, which typically calls for traditional oats.

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What You Should Be Having For Breakfast

People seem to be spending less time making a home cooked hot breakfast.  uncooked-oatsThey appear to be more likely to grab a breakfast sandwich on the way to work with a coffee full of cream and sugar, or quickly eat a bowl of unsatisfying cereal.  Stay tuned for a future rant about cereal.  So what should you be having for breakfast?  Protein and complex carbs are suggested, oatmeal will get you on the right parth.

The benefits of oatmeal, besides it being high-performance, energy-producing, cholesterol-lowering breakfast, is quite the list.  We’re talking about old-fashioned plain oats, or steel cut, not the instant stuff with added sugar.  One advantage this superfood has is that it is slow-digesting and high-fiber, which means your stomach wont be growling two hours later.  Additionally, this whole grain has omega-three fatty acids which are amazing and not commonly found.  Oatmeal‘s nutrition is unstoppable.

In order to make your breakfast optimal, protein needs to be incorporated.  I like to do this by having some Greek yogurt but you could also have scrambled eggs, or added protein powder.  Too really be nutritious you can add berries that all chocked up with antioxidants, particularity blue berries.  Fun fact I think raw blue berries are gross and they are only acceptable once baked.  I know it’s a shame I don’t like this superfood but life goes on.

The different forms thatApple-Cinnamon-Oatmeal-Marla-Meridith-IMG_66561 oats can take include steel-cut, rolled (regular or old-fashioned) and quick oats.  Each variety has a different type of taste because there starts to be less texture as the oats are processed more.  I like old-fashioned that take 5 minuets to cook which fits into my schedule and still has enough texture, the 1 minute instant stuff ends up tasting like a cream of wheat mush to be. Pressed for time in the mornings and don’t have much time to spare, I’ve got options for you.  Overnight oats as their name suggests can be made the night before.  The process involves adding liquids like milk or yogurt (for that protein) to a container with the oats and allowing them to soak in the liquid.  Here are some recipes.  Or perhaps a hot breakfast is preferred.  By baking some oats you will have breakfast prepared for the week in no time.  Or you can check out this recipe for Heat and Eat Oatmeal that also can be prepared ahead of time and is very easy.

Here’s some recipes to get you started, I like to add a banana for it’s natural sweetness and extra nutrition.