Samuel Johnson defines oats as "a grain used in England to feed horses and in Scotland to feed the populace." Oats in many forms have long been a mainstay in our breakfast routing as the good to for a healthy breakfast.
Oat groats look somewhat like plump pieces of tan rice. Oats groats are not processed at all other than the removal of the outside hull. They can be very tough and require soaking and a long cooking time. Once cooked they are delicious and are often included in stuffings or as breakfast porridge.
Steel cut oats, also known as Irish oats, are oat groats that have been sliced into very thin pieces. They are not rolled flat like other oat products. They look more like little pieces of toothpicks. They, too, are more fibrous and require more chewing than processed oats. They are delicious and have a lower glyemic index than processed oats. A lower glycemic index means that they turn into blood sugar more slowly in your body.
Old fashioned oats are groats that have been steamed and then rolled flat. They could just be called "flattened groats", but we know them as old fashioned oats. The steaming process leaches some minerals and liquid from the oat groats; thus making them a little higher on the glycemic index than the steel cut oats.
Quick oats are oat groats that have been steamed, sliced thinly at an angle and rolled flat. You can think of quick oats as "oat flakes." Remember, the more processed the oats are, though, the higher they are on the glycemic index.
Instant oats and instant oatmeals are partially cooked or steamed oats groats that are then cut very thin and dried. Because they are already a little bit cooked they take less time to cook in your own kitchen. Usually, these products have added sugar, salt, and/or dried fruit bits. Instant oatmeals, also, rates higher on the glycemic index than all other forms of oats. This is the form of oats that is least beneficial and health promoting.
So, next time you're at the grocer's don't forget all this fun information and make the right decision for your healthy and your family's.
For more fun with oats, here is a great recipe that I adapted from Stacy Makes Scents:
In a mixing bowl fold together the milk/alternative and oats. Soak overnight in fridge.
In the morning combine the rest of the ingredients and make sure to break up any clumps of salt and baking powder.
Press into greased 8 inch baking dish or stoneware.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
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