Not all oatmeal is created equal.
Updated: May 1, 2019
There are actually several different kinds of oats to choose from...how do you know which one is best?
As a kid, I grew up HATING oatmeal for breakfast, but now a grown human, I enjoy it daily, as part of my favorite morning routine breakfast bowl. Why is that? I recall being served a bowl of "mush" , even though it was covered in brown sugar and milk, it was still my least favorite breakfast...probably because it was mushy...overcooked...and too soft... or maybe it was just the type of oatmeal I was eating?
Let's clear one thing up, oatmeal of all types is good for the old ticker, because it is a WHOLE GRAIN and people who eat more whole grains tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, stroke cancer and digestive issues or disorders...etc. Soluble fibre (meaning can dissolve in water- aka turns into a "gel" like consistency" is a type of fibre found in oats that helps improve blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. Insoluble fibre (doesn't dissolve in water, is the bulk or roughage for digestion. Which is found in wheat bran and helps keep your digestive system healthy and prevent constipation--- YAY for that. If you want to learn more about Building a Better Breakfast join my live workshop here, recipes and samples always provided!
But back to the food...the oatmeal. Let's break it down and understand some different types.
Also called Irish or Scottish oats, these oats are closest to their original grain or "groat" form. They consist of the entire oat kernel which has been sliced by a steel blade, hence the name STEEL CUT. Depending on the kind, it can take 15-60 minutes to prepare steel cut oats, you can even prepare them in a slow cooker! They have a chewy, nutty texture and typically higher in protein and fibre than your traditional oatmeal ie) lower glycemic index.
Known “old fashioned” oats, you can also buy them in the large flake variety. To get rolled oats, whole oats are toasted and the hull is removed, they are steam cooked and then flattened with giant rollers. Rolled oats are already cooked, and essentially need to be re-heated, they can be cooked quickly and will be chewy or if you cook them longer they will soften a lot.
Quick cooking oats:
These are similar to rolled oats, but they are smaller because they are cut before being steamed and flattened out, this way they will cook quicker, aka quick cooking. These are good to be added to muffins, or used as a binder in recipes, you can also make oat flour by pulverizing this in a blender.
Instant oats are usually the type in the flavored packets that have added sugar...you know,, the apple cinnamon, or maple brown sugar...yeah you know what kind. To make instant oats, the oats are cut, cooked once, then dried, steam cooked again and then flattened. See how many steps? That is why they cook so quickly! It is because of the many processing steps, that unfortunately, most of their nutrition has been lost.
So then which one is best? Well, think of it like this...the closer to the WHOLE food that we are eating, the better, so the least processed option will be best, and in this case, that would be the steel-cut. Now I will admit, I don't eat steel cut due to the cooking time, so therefore use the large flake rolled oats, or the quick cooking! Do whatever suites your fancy! Just know that oatmeal is an excellent choice for breakfast!
When cooking any type of oatmeal, always follow the ratio of water-oats at least the first time, then adjust it as you go if you prefer more or less texture. As a general rule, add protein or fibre-rich foods to your oatmeal so that it will help you stay fuller, for longer. Follow a simple rule...just remember to F up your breakfast:
Fruit: is a great way to add fibre and fullness. Think of adding a handful of berries or a sliced banana.
Fibre extras like chia, hemp hearts or ground flax are great, or nuts or nut butters for added protein. Even think about cooking your oats in milk.
Does your morning routine include a filling breakfast that will keep those morning munchies away? Or maybe you have no time to eat breakfast? AND COFFEE DOESN'T COUNT. Sorry, but you need more than that to fuel the machine.