With the promise of controlling all stress-related ailments, the humble oatmeal has been revamped to tempt our palate. Let us take a look at those varieties that await to please our taste buds and contribute to our overall wellness.
Oats are those magical grains who lower your bad cholesterol, improve your metabolism, make your skin glow, provide you enough energy without piling the calories, control diabetes if you have it … basically, it plays the role of a lifesaver. Along with these all-too-visible benefits, oats can protect women from breast cancer, increase immunity, and they save you from heart disease as well.
So what is the reason why most of us shy away from eating a healthy helping of oatmeal? You guessed it right! It’s “healthy”, and we usually tend to put all healthy foods into the tasteless bracket. But that should really be a thing of the past. Many of us think of oats as chewy, lumpy and unappetizing, and whichever way they are cooked, they retain these original qualities. To a certain degree it is true, but the varieties of oats available these days will leave you with no reason to complain about. Processed oats are the answer to all your health problems, so go through the varieties that follow and take your pick!
Types Of Oats
A little technology and a whole lot of history form the base of the oat grain’s journey from the fields of Scotland right to our breakfast tables. A staple porridge ingredient in Scottish households since centuries, we have only recently begun to discover its health benefits. Today, we find a long list of oatmeal types ranging from traditional to instant, tailor-made to suit our requirements and culinary skills. Here is the list.
As with grains, oats have a hard outer husk, which is removed to obtain the grain, which is within the bran. This grain is called the groat. These are roll-pressed into flat flakes, then they are steamed and slightly toasted, which gives you your rolled oats. At times, you also get rolled oats without the bran, which enables them to cook faster in the absence of the hard exterior. Packaged rolled oats mostly undergo a little baking, to reduce the cooking time. They can be thin-rolled or thick-rolled, and again that influences the cooking period. You can also get oats that are rolled and unprocessed, which makes them a part of the “old-fashioned” variety, and they need to be cooked in the same old-fashioned manner.
Steel-cut oats are, as the name applies, oats cut into smaller fragments using steel blades. Popular in Ireland and Scotland, they are used to make porridge here. Pinhead oats are a type of steel-cut oats; pinhead referring to the grade of the cut. Similarly, Irish oats are also of the steel-cut variety. By grade, it means the size of the oats, with pinhead being the largest, moving on to coarse, medium and fine. Unlike rolled oats, these oats do not undergo processing, which means that they take a long time to cook, or they have to be soaked in water for some time to speed up the cooking process. With their characteristic golden color and nutty flavor, they fall into the “chewy” category, as the hard bran remains intact.
Specifically in the United States, Scottish oats are those which use steel-cut oats, steam them, and stone-ground them. Considering the fact that they are steamed, they do not take a very long time to cook. Another factor that contributes to the speedy cooking is that they are ground into a fine texture. Funnily enough, you won’t find this variety in Scotland.
Instant oats are the popular packaged versions that have sugar and salt added to them, making the cooking process even simpler. Those of you who wish to enjoy them as a meal should go ahead and buy these, but they should be avoided by people on special diets, as this modified version of oats may not suit their needs.
With a name that suggests a similarity with instant oats, quick-cooking oats are different in the sense that they do not have any added sugar or salt. These are pre-cut oat groats, which are flattened, so that they cook faster, hence the name.
With oatmeal being the topic of discussion, their fruity German cousins can’t stay far behind. Muesli includes rolled oats along with pieces of nuts and fruit. It is a well-loved, nutritious breakfast cereal around the world.
Today, we can find oats in every possible form, and the importance of oatmeal nutrition has been harped upon several times over. Apart from breakfast cereals, we see oatmeal cookies, oat milk, oat sprouts, and even oat flour. Chocolate may be considered the food of the Gods by the ancient South Americans, but if there is one food you’d like to bet your life upon, it’s got to be oats.