Oatmeal is an incredibly useful ingredient. I use oatmeal ground up in my meatballs, mixed with eggs for oatmeal pancakes, in smoothies, homemade bars, banana breads, muffins, homemade granola and of course as a good old fashion breakfast. Some of my racers have been known to mix protein powder or eggs right into their oatmeal as a regular pre-race staple meal. Life on the road sometimes requires simple practical solutions, and oatmeal makes a racers best friend by simply adding hot water.
One common question I get is, "Should I eat steel cut oats instead of quick oats? What's the difference?"
There are several types of oatmeal. Let's provide an overview and how they are produced:
1. Oat Groats: All oats start off as oat groats, which are hulled, toasted oat grains. The bran remains intact when they are hulled, retaining all the nutrients.
2. Steel Cut (Irish) Oats: This would be your least processed type of oatmeal. Oh the "Hardy Irish!" The toasted oat groats are chopped into small pieces about the size of a piece of quinoa. These take about 45 minutes to cook before eating and have a nice chewy texture loved by many.
3. Stone Ground (Scottish) Oats: Scottish oats are the same as Steel cut Irish oats, except they are ground into smaller pieces. These take about half the time of Irish steel cut oats, based on their smaller size. They still have a different texture than rolled oats.
4. Old Fashioned Rolled Oats: The toasted groats are steamed to create this popular oatmeal. After steaming, the groats are run between rollers to create flakes. Rolled oats can be eaten raw or cooked into oatmeal. These take about 10 minutes tops to cook and we likely know them from the red, blue and white "Quaker" package.
5. Quick Cooking Oatmeal: This oatmeal is the same as the old fashioned rolled oats except they are rolled thinner for quicker cooking times. They can also be eaten uncooked. These take only five minutes to cook and are great for baking.
6. Instant Oatmeal: These are the most processed oats. The oat groats have been finely chopped, flattened, pre-cooked and dehydrated. Many instant oatmeal products will have added sugars, flavors and salt although you can get the plain versions. I would steer clear of the sugar added versions, opting to add your own fresh fruit and maple syrup instead. These take only a few minutes to cook.
All oatmeal, with exception to the ones with added sugars and flavorings, are a healthy carbohydrate choice. At a quick glance many will assume that the quick oats are not as nourishing, but in reality there isn't much nutritional difference.
Oatmeal has many great nutrition properties. It is a hardy grain that is able to thrive in poor soil conditions that most crops cannot survive in. Oatmeal gets its nutty taste from the roasting process the groats go through after being harvested and cleaned. Oatmeal retains all of its bran and germ even though it's hulled, leaving it full of nutrients and fiber.
One 1/2 cup of Rolled Oats has 150 calories, 27 grams (g) of carbohydrates, 5 g of protein, 3 g fat, 1 g sugar and 4 g fiber. Oatmeal has both soluble and insoluble fiber.
One 1/4 cup of Steel Cut Oats has 170 calories, 29 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 3 g fat, 5 g fiber.