Welcome to oat class! Oats are healthy, cheap and super versatile. But, there are many different types of oats, and they all serve different purposes. Sometimes one variety of oats even carries more than one term!
You all know I love my oats. I eat them for breakfast, lunch, snack (but have yet to try them savory for dinner!). But it took me a long time to figure out what all the different types of oats will do, especially living in Holland where oats aren’t nearly as popular as in other places in the world (sadly). Through trial and error I have learned a lot, and have grown more and more accustomed to eating ‘real’ oats, as opposed to instant or ‘Brinta’ . Considering the sheer volume of questions I get about oats each week, I’d love to pass this information on!
Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? Here’s a simple overview to make clear at once how a whole grain (the oat) goes to it’s most refines state (oat flour).
whole oats > oat groats > steel-cut oats > rolled oats > instant oats > oat flour
The whole oat is something that we don’t use for human consumption.
Oat groats are basically still the whole oat, with only the hard outer hull removed. At this stage, the oat groats look like brown rice. Groats are also not that commonly used for consumption.
Steel-cut oats (or: coarse oats, Irish oats) are simply cut up oat groats. Nothing is taken away at this stage so steel-cut oats are very nutritious.
Rolled oats come in two varieties (from less to more processed): old fashioned & quick. Old fashioned rolled oats are oat groats steamed and then rolled (flattened).
Quick oats are steamed and rolled steel-cut oats. Quick and old-fashioned oats are thus basically the same, only quick oats are smaller in size (small leaf).
Instant oats are comparable to quick rolled oats, only are they steamed longer and rolled even thinner, which makes for super quick (instant) cooking oats.
Oats ground into a fine flour. Oats do not contain gluten which can be both an advantage (for those with gluten intolerance) and a disadvantage (gluten make for a sturdy baking process).
Finely ground oat hull. The outer, very nutritious part of the whole oat is ground into a fine meal that makes for a creamy bowl of oats and cooks very fast.
Steel-cut oats cut into a fine meal, this too makes for a creamy bowl of oatmeal.
Obviously, the less processed forms are the most nutritious. What you also have to take into consideration is cooking time. Cooking time will vary from 20 minutes on the stove (steel-cut oats) to mere minutes in the microwave (instant oats). I myself use rolled oats almost instantly, both old-fashioned, which take around 8-12 minutes to cook, and quick oats, which take around 5-8.
When I use oats for other things than oatmeal, I pick a variety according to the purpose it will serve. If I need binding properties, like gluing a bar or pancake together, I use the smallest variety I have, and sometimes even give them a whirl in my food processor. If I want a chewier bite, I’ll use old-fashioned or even steel-cut (granola!).
The possibilities for oats are virtually endless: baked oatmeal cookies, raw breakfast cookies, cooked oatmeal, oven-baked oatmeal, pan-baked oats, oat pancakes, oat bread, overnight oats, oatmeal energy bars, granola, raw ‘cookie dough’, thrown in smoothies, etc.
Here are my fav oat(meal) recipes:
- The Healthiest Breakfast in The World
- Pecan & Almond Granola (my fav!)
- Fall Granola
- Breakfast Cookies
- Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal
- Healthy Oat Truffles
- Quinoa Coconut Energy Bars
- American (Oatmeal) Pancake
Oatmeal preparation tips:
- Add a lot of liquid (at least double the amount of the oats in volume)
- For fluffy, voluminous oats: add a sliced banana, apple sauce, protein powder, chia seeds or an eggwhite while cooking
- Or use KT’s blended grains trick
- Don’t stir too frequently! This will make for very gelatinous oats…
- If oats become to dry and sticky towards the end, simply add more water and cook a little longer
- Top with fruit, nut butters and/or flax seeds for an extra nutritious bowl!
I’d say, experience with the different properties, textures and tastes of oats by buying all varieties at least once. Have fun!
What’s your favorite way to eat oats? And what’s your favorite recipe??
Check back later today for updates on both my detox & January goals!