On a cool fall morning, nothing beats a steamy bowl of oatmeal sweetened with brown sugar, or topped with raisins and dried cranberries. Oatmeal has been around for years and continues to be a nutritional powerhouse due to the many benefits associated with whole grain goodness. Consuming oats has been associated with reducing blood pressure, helping manage diabetes, and keeping our colons healthy.
There are many varieties of oats to choose from depending on taste and convenience. If time is not an issue then try the oat groats or steel cut oats for a chewy, nutty bowl of cereal. Regular and instant oatmeal (and not the sugary, pulverized oatmeal packets) help speed the home preparation time. The good news is that the rolling, cutting, steaming and precooking procedures that are used to make these quick cook versions do not impact the nutrition as is the case with white flour processing.
Oat groats-similar to wheat berries, whole oats are a tough, chewy grain that require long periods of stove top simmering before they are tender. This form of oats can take up to 45 minutes of cooking to soften the grain
Steel Cut (Irish)-whole oats that have been halved or cut into three pieces, so they cook about 20 minutes faster than the uncut version
Regular (rolled)-This is the oatmeal most of us are familiar with. The whole oats have been steamed then flattened by rollers which reduces the cooking time to about five minutes.
Instant-Regular rolled oats are flattened even more, then cooked and dried to make these a very quick and convenient option. Don’t confuse these with the flavored pulverized instant oatmeal packets that are loaded with lots of added sugar!
Mary Snell, MS RD CD
Director of Nutrition and Wellness