The Everyday Staple: Oats

The quintessential ingredient that is found from popular breakfasts like oatmeal, baked into cookies, pies and crusts and enjoyed in many types of granola. With all its benefits and adaptability, it is not to my surprise that it is such a popular item. But with such popularity, it is very easy to get lost in all the information, so I thought it will be best to simplify it all.

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Oats is a type of grain, which is actually most popularly used as animal feed–fun fact. Oats can be found in many forms.

  • The most popular is rolled oats. This form of oats is a result of steaming then pressing the oat groats into flakes
  • Steel cut oats is basically the whole oat groat chopped up into little pieces. You can make porridge out of this but it takes longer to cook.
  • Quick oats is basically rolled oats that are pressed even flatter. This is the type of oats you get with Quaker Oats or instant oatmeal. They are not great for overnight oatmeal as they can’t hold up the moisture as well nor are they good for granola as they are too fine and can get burnt easily.IMG_1380
  • Oats flour is basically oats grounded up into a fine flour. Its a great flour for bread and other baked goods.
  • Oat bran is the husk and does not have the oats groats that makes up the other forms of oats.

In its rawest form, oats is not 100% completely gluten free because it does contains one or two of the irritable proteins in wheat. It is, however, easier to make this grain gluten free by removing these few proteins and manufacturing in a wheat-free environment.

Oats is so popular because of all its health benefits. These are based on one cup of cooked oats~1/2 cup of rolled oats

  • Importantly: oats are high in fibre. They have great dietary fibres that are great for digestion and good at lowering cholesterol
  • Oats are a good source of protein, which can keep you full for the entire morning.
  • There have been many studies linking the consumption of oatmeal to reduction of heart problems or to the  control of diabetes and other chronic disease. Work is still being conducted on these correlations.

Oats is definitely a great addition to anyone’s breakfast and one of the best ways to start the day off right.

Cooking oats. This is very important. Each type of oat cooks differently but it is very important to address the simple cooking techniques of the popular ones. Note; the water to oats ratio is what I generally prefer that gives a great porridge consistency without being too runny or too dry.

  • Oatflour can be added to any recipe and baked just like you would use regular wheat/all-purpose flour
  • Rolled Oats
    • On days when I am not lazy, I cook out my oats by combining 1 part oats to 2.25 parts of boiling water in a saucepan for about 10-15 minute. For a creamy porridge it is important to stare the mixture frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and creates a creamy porridge. This an absolutely basic way to cook oats and can take on any flavour you want to add. Add chia or flax seeds for a more porridge texture.
    •  These could be soaked overnight in the same 1:2.25 oats/water or 1:2 parts oats/water ratio with a 1/4 cup almond milk.  I also add some chia seeds to add more volume. I bet you can now guess the trend that I love chia seeds in my oatmeal. The oats will absorb the liquid and soften the porridge for the next day porridge.This way, it takes only 2-3 minutes in the microwave for a minute for a softer,creamier texture but it can also be eaten cold
    • I also love to bake my oats to switch up my bulk make of oatmeal for the week. I find this easy to bake in muffin tins so that I can grab one and go for early morning classes. First preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is heating, combine the dry ingredients–oats, spices and about 1 tsp of baking soda in one bowl and the wet ingredients (water and milk) in another and mix them together. The oats/water ratio is 1:1, you can add half a cup of non-diary milk if you don’t want a very solid consistency. Place the mixture in the oven for about 30-35 minutes till the top is crispy. Let it rest so that the oats is not too soft.
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  • Quick/Instant Oats
    • Generally, instructions regarding the cook time come with the packet but it is generally heating the packet with some water that barely covers the dried flakes for about 2-3minutes on high heating the microwave
  • Steel Cut Oats
    • Since they do not have as much of a surface area, this variety takes longer to cook. Add 1 part oats to 3-4 parts boiling water, depending on your preference in creaminess, and let the oats simmer in the pot for up to 30 minutes till tend and silky.

I love to add chia seeds or flax seeds to my oatmeal mix for a more porridgy consistency, but this is completely optional. These also add extra protein and fibre. I have been testing out many recipes for oats and cannot wait to share it. Check out my Chocolate Oats in the breakfast tab, which will soon be filled with many more interesting combinations.

 

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