If you love a hot bowl of oatmeal, January is the month to embrace this celebrity grain. Known for numerous health properties, a half a cup of plain rolled oats provides 140 calories along with 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. When cooked in water, a ½ cup of dry oatmeal transforms into a full cup of belly filling, heart healthy, fiber rich cereal. Because rolled oats contain complex carbohydrates, the glycemic index of oatmeal is considered to be low. Oats are also gluten free. However, due to the high risk of cross contamination individuals on a gluten free diet should select oats that are certified as gluten free.
For the oatmeal novice, selecting oatmeal can be confusing as there are several different options on the grocery shelves.
- Oat Groats are the oat grains in their rawest state. Because they are minimally processed, they take a long time to cook. Oat groats are what the other varieties of oats are derived from.
- Steel-cut or Irish Oats are groats that have been sliced with a steel blade into coarse little bits. The tend to be a bit “chewier” than standard oatmeal because they absorb less water than more processed options.
- Scottish Oats are made by milling the groats rather than slicing them. This product has a finer grain and tends to be creamier than the steel-cut option. Scottish oats work well in baking projects and make a smooth morning cereal.
- Rolled Oats are made by steaming the groats, then flattening them with a roller. This “old fashioned” variety tend to be the most popular option in the United States for cereal and work well in cookies, fruit crisps, and granolas.
- Quick-Cooking Oats are processed like rolled oats, but they are more processed. They are rolled thinner and sliced finer. This creates very creamy oatmeal that requires minimal cooking time. Quick-cooking oats are also great in baked goods.
- Instant Oats are typically the ones found in ready-to-microwave packets and may be precooked, sweetened, and flavored. Sometimes quick-cooking and instant oatmeal are referred to interchangeably, but they are not the same.
There are infinite ways to enjoy oatmeal. In the US, the most popular way to eat oatmeal is in breakfast cereal. Make breakfast fun with this easy Oatmeal and Fruit recipe. The second way that oatmeal is used is in cookies. Try this healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe the next time you want to whip up a batch of cookies. The third most popular way to use oatmeal is in a meatloaf recipe. If your recipe calls for breadcrumbs, try swapping the breadcrumbs out for oatmeal:
- Substitute 1¼ cups of rolled oats for each cup of breadcrumbs.
- Grind the rolled oats in a food processor or blender to mimic the texture of breadcrumbs.
- Season the ground rolled oats with dry seasonings like Italian seasoning for extra flavor, if desired.
Oatmeal month is best celebrated by trying out new recipes that include this incredibly versatile whole grain. For starters, consider trying this easy Blueberry Baked Oatmeal for a quick, healthy, on-the-go breakfast.