Meet This Grain: Oats

by in Healthy Tips, September 29, 2009

oatmeal
We’re all pretty familiar with old-fashioned rolled oats, but there’s more to this whole grain than oatmeal.

Oat Options
Rolled oats are the classic choice, but you can also find oats in the form of oat flour, oat bran and my favorite, steel cut oats. Steel cut oats (a.k.a. Irish oats) are shorter, thicker grains; they haven’t been flatten or “rolled.” You can cook them water just like rolled oats, and they have a nuttier flavor and crunchier texture. Steel cut oats do take a bit longer to cook (check the package for directions), but they’re worth the effort. I like to cook them into large oatmeal batches ahead of time and store in the fridge — then I just pop them in the microwave as needed.

Why Are Oats “Healthy Eats”?
One cup of cooked oats has about 150 calories, 3 grams of healthy fat, 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. Oats also contain iron and energy-boosting B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin and are especially high in soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower cholesterol when you mix it into a healthy diet.

See why oatmeal made our list of foods that boost brain power.

What To Do With Oats
There are endless morning oatmeal variations (I’ve been on a cinnamon, blueberry and walnut kick lately), but you can add oats to homemade granola, cookies, pancakes, muffins and snack bars. The oats add fiber, flavor and help give foods a chewy texture. Oat flour and oat bran work well in bread, pancake and muffin recipes. You can even use oats on your skin — many homemade facial masks contain oats to help soothe and moisturize.

Many people ask me if instant oatmeal is a healthy sub for slower-cooking rolled oats and they are; just stick to the unflavored, unsweetened kind. Mix your own flavorings such as fresh or dried fruit or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Instant oatmeal cooks up quickly because it’s been partially cooked and then dried. It’s a time saver, but I like the texture of cooked rolled oats better.

Tell Us: How do you like your oats?

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Comments (70)

  1. Kelsey May says:

    I love my oatmeal with about 1/4 cup of raw pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and flaxseed meal (and water). Mmm, delish! It's like a bowlful of fall! Plus, it gets a near serving of veggies in first thing in the morning!

  2. Ashlie says:

    I make old fashioned oats with soy milk (rather than water), after they are cooked I top them with a drizzle of honey, some chopped walnuts, and a small apple chopped. A perfect way to start they day – especially once it starts getting a little chilly outside.

  3. Lisa says:

    with milk and water, dates, cinnamon and grated zuchinni – cooked on the stove then popped in the oven for ten minutest to crisp up the top – delicious

  4. I usually mix 20g oatmeal with 20g oatbran and 2/3 cup water. That gives me the perfect base for any toppers which usually include peanut butter and chocolate chips

  5. Vayda says:

    I love steel cut oats w/ wheatgerm, flax, cinnamon, banana, a little honey, and chopped walnuts! with a glass of unsweetened soymilk on the side.. perfection!

  6. KimD says:

    This is the only hot cereal I like. Oatmeal scotchies cookies are delicious!

  7. Greta says:

    I add rolled oats to my apple crisps. They soak up some of the apple juice to become soft and add a little bit of gooeyness..mmm

  8. Sarah says:

    I agree with the pumpkin addition, but another thing I love to add to my oatmeal is peanut butter. It melts in the oatmeal and helps thicken it a bit more. It also makes for a more filling bowl of oats.

  9. jill says:

    i have celiac, so I can't eat most oatmeal. Bob's Red Mill makes the only gluten-free rolled oats I know of. He makes several kinds of oats that are not gluten-free, so you have to make sure it specifically states "gluten free" on the package. Lately I've only found them on his website.

  10. Linda C. says:

    I don’t cook the oats. My aunt gave me this “recipe” which I feel is even more healthy. Regular original toasted rolled oats, diced apple and any other fruit you like such as blueberries, soy milk (add this first so oats soak up and get soft), or you can use regular organic milk or almond milk, etc., a little agave syrup, and walnuts or almonds could be used. Sooo good!

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