Where Men Can Become Better Gentlemen

Food: Grains

Know Your Oats

How Oats Are Processed

Oats are identified with by most people as a breakfast meal and are commonly taken with milk, either as an uncooked dish of muesli or as a hot dish of oatmeal or porridge. The oats are made from whole oat grains that have been de-husked and then heat-treated to stabilize the seed (also referred to as the kernal or groat) and end up looking like a grain of rice. These kernals undergo a further stage in processing before being sold as a specific style of oats for consumers to buy. This final stage affects the texture and final cooking time of the oats, but the nutritional value is generally the same:

1. Old-Fashioned or Rolled Oats

Oats that have been steamed and rolled flat and look like flakes. They take about 10 - 20 minutes to cook. Interesting Trivia: According to the Quaker Oats Company an 18-ounze pack of their Old-Fashioned style contains approximately 26,000 rolled oats.

2. Quick-Cooking Rolled Oats

Oats that have been steamed longer and/or rolled a little thinner than standard rolled oats and are often cut into several pieces. The end result is they cook quicker i.e. in about 2 - 5 minutes.

3. Steel-Cut, Pinhead, Scottish or Irish Oats

Oats that have been cut into several pieces using a steel blade (or partially stone ground in the case of Scottish oats) and not rolled flat like other styles. They take about 25 - 40 minutes to cook and are chewy in texture with a nutty and hearty flavor. Although these take the longest time to cook they can be added to soups and stews or cooked overnight in a crock-pot (or slow cooker) to provide ready-made oatmeal in the morning.

4. Instant Oats

Oats that have been cooked and dried before being rolled. They are easily rehydrated by adding hot liquid (water, milk etc.) and are ready to eat (hence the term “instant”). The additional processing may make these a less healthy option, with many manufacturers adding sweetners, flavorings, sodium and other chemicals. If using instant oats, the ideal is look for ones with less than a quarter ounce of sugar and no flavorings.

Why Have Different Styles of Oats

Looking at the difference in cooking times and place this alongside the busy and frantic mornings encountered in many households, suddenly necessity becomes the mother of invention. However, the less processed the oats are the lower they come on the glycemic scale i.e. the lower they come on this scale, the longer it takes for the food to break down and thus making you feel full longer with more even blood sugar levels (as opposed to high blood sugar spikes).

Flour & Bran

You can also get Oat Flour and Oat Bran, both of which can be used in baking (for breads, cakes etc.); as a thickener agent; in smoothies to increase fiber content; and many other ways. Think of where you might use flour and these can replace some or all of your usual flour.

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