Know Your Oats

Oats are a healthy addition to just about any diet because they provide fiber, satiety, and help lower cholesterol. Oats come in various forms, so sometimes confusion results when trying to determine which kind to use! So, without further ado…

Let’s take a look at the the different kinds of oats:

Oat Groats or Hulled oats: An oat in its original form has a hard, outer covering that makes eating it an unrecommended habit. When the outer ‘shell’ is removed, you have oat groats in which a layer of bran is exposed. This bran layer protects nutrients inside the oat. Oat groats are edible and look similar to rye.

Steel Cut Oats: These oats are the result of oats groats having been cut into smaller pieces with steel blades (hence their name). They are still quite nutritious having a nutty taste and chewy texture. They might also be known as coarse-cut oats, pinhead oats, Scotch oats, or Irish oats.

Old Fashioned Oats: These oats are what we often see in the supermarket. The bran of the oat has been removed, so the level of nutrition decreases somewhat. The oats are steamed and flattened, thus giving us that familiar oat appearance we see in the Quaker brand. They’re also called rolled oats.

Quick-Cooking Oats/Instant Oatmeal: They’re old fashioned oats that have been cut into smaller flakes. They cook quickly because the small flakes absorb water quickly. These oats are usually the ones sold in individual pouches with added added sugar, salt, and flavorings. Not the best choice of oats, but better than a big, greasy doughnut!

Oats can be processed even further into a fine powder which can be used as baby food. You can also use oat flour for baking.

I prefer steel cut oats for oatmeal. They do require some time to cook, but they have a great taste, and are a little more nutritious. I also have the old fashioned kind in my pantry as I use them in bread, muesli, or cookie recipes.

If you’re not already doing so, why not give oatmeal a try. On a chilly morning, go ahead and cook a steaming bowl of this good stuff. Add toppings, like cinnamon, walnuts, and dried cranberries. It’s as warm and comforting as it is healthy for you.