Oatmeal is an old traditional breakfast food that’s popularity has grown once again over the last few years. This hot cereal is a great alternative to sugary breakfast cereals and makes for a power-infused, high-energy breakfast that is perfect for starting your day.
Oats are a whole-grain that provides you with many vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of iron, zinc, protein and B vitamins. Since they are a whole grain, they’re high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to reduce your blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. If eaten on a regular basis, it can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The fiber in oatmeal will also keep you fuller for longer, which can aid in weight management.
There are different types of oatmeal on the market today and my clients are always asking me what the difference is between them. The biggest difference between them all 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 take the longest to cook, about 30 minutes. They have a chewy texture that retains much of its shape even after cooking. Since steel-cut oats are minimally processed, high in fiber and low in fat and sugar, they have less of an effect on your blood sugar after eating it.
One serving of steel-cut oats, ~¼ cup, contains 0g of sugar, 5g of protein and 4g of fiber.
You can use steel-cut oats:
- To make a delicious morning meal, mixed with your favorite fruit.
- To add texture to stuffing.
- As a substitute for bread crumbs when making meatloaf (1 cup of ground oatmeal = 1 cup of dry bread crumbs).
Rolled or Old-fashioned Oats
Rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats, about 10 minutes, and absorb more liquid. When compared to steel-cut oats, rolled oats may make your blood sugar spike higher because they are slightly more processed. But, it is still a low spike because of the high fiber and low sugar content.
One serving of rolled oats, ~½ cup, contains 1g of sugar, 5g of protein and 4g of fiber.
You can use rolled oats:
- On their own as oatmeal
- In granola bars
- To make oatmeal cookies and muffins
- Added to your morning smoothie
Instant oats are the most processed out of the three varieties. They are pre-cooked, which is why they cook in less than two minutes.
Instant oatmeal can come in many flavors, such as maple syrup and brown sugar, chocolate chip, and cinnamon roll, which makes them high in added sugar. One packet of flavored instant oatmeal may contain 12 grams of sugar! It is best to opt for plain oatmeal and add your own “add-ins” (see below for ideas).
Add-ins to Your Oatmeal
Try adding any of the following to your oatmeal for about of flavor and nutrition:
- Peanut butter
- Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Unsweetened cocoa powder or dark chocolate chips
- Cook your oatmeal in milk or unsweetened almond milk, instead of water, to add more flavor.
If you feel you don’t have enough time in the morning to make oatmeal, that doesn’t mean you should avoid it for breakfast. Oatmeal can be made the night before and heated up in the morning. It will still taste just as good!
Your Turn to Take Action: What’s you favorite way to enjoy oatmeal? Let me know in the comments below.