Did you know yesterday was National Oatmeal Day? Did you eat any oatmeal to celebrate? Don’t worry if you didn’t, there’s still time!
Not only is oatmeal delicious, it’s full of health benefits. Since only the outer hull is removed, the germ and bran remain intact, making it a whole grain product. It’s high in soluble fiber, specifically beta-glucan. This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in your blood and removes it, reducing your blood cholesterol levels. It also aids in lowering your blood glucose levels. The fiber will also keep you fuller for longer, which can aid in weight management. If you eat oats on a regular basis, they can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
3 Types of Oats for Oatmeal
There are different types of oats on the market today and my clients are always asking me what the difference is between them. The biggest difference is how much they are processed. The level of processing is what causes the different textures and varying cooking times. I have broken down the three different types for you even further.
- Steel-cut oats are whole oats (called groats) that have only been toasted to prevent rancidity and then cut into smaller bits. This is the least processed preparation of oats and it takes the longest to cook, ~30 minutes, since the tough outer layer is still mostly intact. In one serving, you’ll get 4g of fiber!
- Rolled or old-fashioned oats have gone through the same toasting process as steel-cut and are then moistened to make them pliable and rolled into small, flat irregular shaped disks. This oat is great for baked goods because it’s softer than steel-cut, but still holds its structure fairly well during cooking. Rolled oats take 5-10 minutes to cook. Just like steel-cut oats, in one serving you’ll get 4g of fiber!
- Instant or quick oats require the least amount of cooking time, less than two minutes. They’re pre-cooked, dried, then rolled slightly thinner than the old-fashioned variety. Since they’re highly processed, they don’t retain their shape and cook into a mushy texture. You can buy flavored varieties of these oats, but they will have more added sugar. To keep the sugar low, its best to buy unflavored oats!
5 Ways You Can Eat More Oatmeal
- Classic Oatmeal. This can be made with steel-cut or old-fashioned oats, whichever you prefer. Personally, I use water or fat free milk, but you can use unsweetened almond milk to add more flavor to your oats, or even soymilk. After they are cooked (see packaging for instructions), add peanut butter, cinnamon and fresh fruit for a hearty breakfast.
- Crockpot Oatmeal. Mix one cup of steel-cut oats with 4 cups of water, skim milk, almond milk or soymilk. Add some cinnamon and cook on low for 4 – 6 hours. Freeze in individually sized portions for a quick breakfast on the go.
- Oatmeal Smoothie. Have you ever had oatmeal in your smoothie before? It’s worth trying. Blend Greek yogurt, old-fashioned oats, milk, berries and peanut butter for a delicious oatmeal breakfast smoothie you’ll want to make again!
- Savory Oatmeal. Oatmeal doesn’t have to just be sweet. You can put a twist on the classic and make it savory and have as an afternoon snack or as part of your dinner. This dish will remind you of a creamy risotto, but its much quicker to make! Check out my recipe here for savory oatmeal with mushrooms, shallots and rosemary.
- Overnight Oats. You can use either steel-cut or old-fashioned oats for this dish. Pour the oats into a Mason jar or container and mix them with your liquid of choice. Then add cinnamon, chia seeds, slivered almonds, and blueberries. Refrigerate overnight and in the morning, you’ll have a delicious breakfast on the go!
There are many ways to get fancy with using oats, besides a morning bowl of oatmeal. Explore your options and try new recipes. You may find another oatmeal combination you like better, but you won’t know unless you try! Just remember to read nutrition labels if you choose to buy pre-prepared oatmeal because it can be packed with sugar and artificial ingredients.
Your Turn to Take Action: How will you celebrate National Oatmeal Day? Let me know in the comments below!