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Goldilocks was spot-on! When she said her porridge had to be just right to eat it, she was ahead of her time. Or was she? (Give me a bit of artistic licence here…..I know it was the temperature she was referring too, but nutrition makes for a more interesting story!)
As the mid winter chill is upon us again, I thought it about time I tried my steel cut oats in place of the usual rolled ones I cook a couple of times a week for brekky. I knew they offered better nutrition but I was a bit concerned with the ‘up to 30 minutes’ cooking time on most recipes. Mornings are usually pretty focused and when my brain works best, so I prefer to spend time cooking later on in the day. Porridge for dinner anyone?
Oats 101 Not all oats are created equal.
Oat Groats: as whole grainy as you can get where oats are concerned. Unadulterated. Only the inedible hull has been removed. Cooks in 50-60 minutes. Low GI and high fibre content.
Steel Cut Oats: these are just groats that have been cut into smaller pieces to speed cooking. Cook in 10-20 minutes.
Scottish Oatmeal: another version of groats that have been broken into bits, only these are stone ground instead of being cut. Cooks in 10 minutes.
Oat Bran: a high-fiber part of the oat that’s been removed and can be eaten separately. Oat bran can be prepared as its own hot cereal or simply sprinkled on your favorite bowl of breakfast to boost the nutrient content of every bite. Cooks in 2 minutes.
Rolled/Old Fashioned Oats: groats that are steamed and then pressed flat. Increasing the surface area this way and partially cooking them helps you get breakfast to your mouth faster. Cooks in 5 minutes.
Quick Oats/Instant Oatmeal: rolled even thinner than old fashioned oats and steamed even longer. Cooks in 1 minute. This is the only product on this list that has been processed in an additional way – they often add skim milk powder, emulsifiers and preservatives to develop a creamy texture when they are cooked. If they contain dried fruits, they’ll no doubt be full of sulphur used as a preservative. Otherwise the mix may have added sugars. High GI and low fibre content.
Oat Flour: pulverized groats that can be used in baking, etc. This is still considered a whole grain because nothing was removed before the oats were ground into flour. But, before you rush off and try your hand at making bread with oat flour, don’t! Oats are gluten free.
From the list above you’d think that the groats or steel cut oats would be the best for you. But if you have read any of my other articles you may know of phytic acid. Phytic acid surrounds the minerals in oats (zinc, calcium and manganese to name but a few) and inhibits absorption into the body. This is easily solved by soaking overnight covered in cold water. Drain excess liquid off in the morning and cook as usual.
Vitamin B available from oats is essential for mitochondria. These are the minute ‘batteries’ in each of your cells. They power various functions within cells and power you as a whole. Pretty important to look after them I’d say. If you haven’t heard of the Wahls Protocol you may want to watch a You Tube video of Doctor Terry Wahls recovery from MS while your porridge simmers tomorrow morning. She’ll tell you all about mitochondria.
Groats take a long time to cook. Rolled oats are ok, but not the best. But, instant! Please steer clear of these processed, refined, naughty-additive-loaded versions which have about zero purpose other than fill you up for a short length of time so you need to snack at morning tea time to keep the wolf from the door until lunch.
So my steel cut oats? How were they? Totally DELICIOUS! They took just 15 minutes to cook and in a thick based pan with plenty of water and a good pinch salt, simmering on a low heat, didn’t even stick to the pan. I was blissfully unaware in my office working on some ‘crucial’ food adventure and achieved a lot in a quarter of an hour!
I pimped them up once cooked too. I added some ground cinnamon, sliced a banana, scattered over some toasted hazelnuts I had in the freezer and drizzled over some local Canning River Honey. I was thrilled. The steel-cut oats have a marvelous firmness to them as well as creaminess (I added a touch of full-fat milk)…..all in all, much more exciting than their rolled cousins.
I may have found a new zest for brekky.
If you’d like to discover more about the food you eat, our Wellbeing Series will fill you in with evidence based, up to the minute, scientific findings on myths and truths about our diets. It’s a fascinating insight into the science of food explained in a relatable way. You’ll be able to make informed choices when it comes to your diet everyday. Join Tracey and Amanda Bryce (Integrative Pharmacist and Accredited Nutritionist) for conversations and cooking and darn good food!
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