Understanding oats

The oat aisle of the grocery store is surprisingly large. Not only do you have multiple brands to choose from, but there are many different types of oats.

To help you out, I’ve created a quick review of the classic oat to help you better navigate the grocery store and choose the oats best for you.

Nutrition Overview

Oats have been a staple for centuries and appear to be a grain that has escaped the “carbohydrate boycotting” that is so common in diet culture. It is a nutrient rich food that provides you with fibre, protein, vitamin B12, iron and zinc.

Types of Oats

Steel Cut Oats are closest to the original grain and contain the entire oat kernel sliced into smaller pieces to help with cooking. Because these are the least processed of the oats, they also contain the highest concentration of nutrients. They will have a very chewy texture and will take the longest to cook at anywhere between 20-40 minutes.

Rolled Oats are sometimes called Old Fashioned Oats. They are slightly more processed as the outside hull of the oat is removed. This does result in a lower nutrient content compared to steel cut, but they still remain very nutritious and are a great choice (my personal favourite). The cooking time is also faster taking 10-20 minutes.

Quick Cooking Oats are rolled oats that have been cut before being steamed & flattened to help speed up the cooking process. They can be helpful when you need to make oats quickly, or are often used in baking.

Instant Oats are usually what you find in the packets. They are the most processed of all the oats, as they have been cut, pre-cooked, dried, steamed and then flattened. While the packets are convenient because they have been significantly processed they have lost a good chunk of nutrition. As well, the flavoured packets usually contain quite a bit of added sugars. I would recommend trying to include the above oats over instant for a more nutritious and satisfying meal.

Other Oat Products

Oat Flour is made from grinding up rolled up. You can do this yourself in a blender or food processor. To add to a recipe, substitute up to 30% oat flour for all purpose. It will contain the same nutrients all rolled oats and can be a great addition to your baking.

Oat Bran is made from the outer later of the oat kernel known as the bran. This very rich in fibre and can also be a great addition to your baking.

How to Use Oats

My favourite way to eat oats is in a good old fashioned porridge. Now oats for breakfast may not initially spark your food desires but the beauty of oats is that they are a great base. Once you start dressing them up, you might find porridge becomes a staple.

They are also a great addition to baking. You will find a million recipes that incorporate oats including muffins, cookies, energy bites and homemade bars. As mentioned above, you can also sneak in this nutritious powerhouse in the form of oat flour or oat bran.

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