The Secret Life of Steel Cut Oats

The amazing thing about being on vacation? Extra time for trying new foods… and then even more time to properly blog about it!

If you have spent any time at all clicking your way through foodie blog world, you’ll know that oatmeal is a very popular breakfast choice for many healthy food bloggers out there… and with good reason! Oatmeal contains a decent amount of fiber and vitamins, is low fat, low cal, and fights cancer and heart disease (source) – and that is just to name a few!

I grew up eating old-fashioned oats and buying packets of instant oatmeal (raisin and spice anyone?) during college, but that was pretty much the extent of my “oatmeal experience.” For a long while now, I’ve heard reports that Steel Cut Oats are the healthiest type of oats out there, but have been too blissfully ignorant, living in my instant oatmeal world to care to change. Until now.

While picking up some last minute groceries on Christmas Eve, a package of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats caught my eye, and my curiosity won out. I decided to give them a go (at $2.50 bag, how could I not?) and finally see what all of this Steel Cut Oats nonsense was about.

Before we move on, let’s set the story straight on Steel Cut Oats, for my own sake, shall we?

After clicking around the internet, it seems that there are two major reasons why people prefer Steel Cut Oats to Old Fashioned Oats:

1. Steet Cut Oats are less processed than Old Fashioned Oats. Steel Cut Oats are made up of toasted oat groats, chopped into tiny pieces. Old Fashioned Oats go the next step by steaming the groats and rolling them out into flakes. Instant Oats take it even a step further by pre-cooking and then dehydrating the oats. Instant oats typically contain added salts and sugar (source). If you are looking for the most natural form of oats, it looks like Steel Cut is the way to go.

2. A lot of people out there prefer the taste and texture of Steel Cut Oats. They say that the Steel Cut Oats make a creamier, more delicious bowl of oats.

Upon opening the package, I was surprised by the look of the Steel Cut Oats. Instead of flakes, Steel Cut Oats come in tiny little pellets (as we learned above, the chopped oat groats), that remind me a bit of rabbit food.

A very different look from the Old Fashioned Oatmeal flakes that I grew up with!

I followed the directions on the package and added one cup of oats (this makes 4 servings) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to some boiling water.

The directions said to let the oats simmer for about 10 minutes, but in reality it took about 20 minutes for my oats to absorb all of the water. I’m guessing the cook time varies with stove temperatures and other factors.

Once the oats were done, I scooped one serving into a bowl and stirred in about one third a cup of almond milk.

As you saw in yesterday’s post, I topped my oats with some leftover Christmas cranberry bread and raw almonds.

My oats ended up a bit watery… next time I may let them sit for a while longer before digging in. As promised, the oats were much creamier than your regular old-fashioned oats. This combo left me feeling full for quite a few hours… a factor that could be really helpful with my long work days!

I packed up the remainder of the oats to enjoy over the rest of the week. As you can see, as these guys sat waiting to be packed up, they absorbed even more of the liquid.

So my overall verdict on Steel Cut Oats? I like them! I feel great knowing that I am eating a “healthier,” less-processed version of a food that is nutritious to begin with. I also hope that over time I will get more skilled at cooking the oats and that by varying the toppings and mix-ins… I can keep it interesting for the palate.

One of my goals for the new year is to discontinue my bad habit of grabbing fast food on the go, and ideally I would love to make a batch of these oats at the beginning of the week and pack them up daily to bring along to work.

Question: What is your favorite way to eat oats? The crumbled bread was really yummy on top, but I think I may stick with brown sugar or maple syrup and a variety of nuts for my daily routine.


3 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Steel Cut Oats

  1. hi there! i’m new here.. love ur blog entry regarding oat.. normally i mix 3 scoop of oat + low fat milk. hopefully i can reduce my weight! *that’s my 2012 goal!* 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this, I am now not scared of steel cut! I always thought they would be too “pellety”. I currently buy a huge bag of old fashioned organic oats (and I mean HUGE!) and make them using a microwave method that is just as fast as instant oatmeal, without the added junk.

    I love to mix up the toppings from day to day, but my favorite is a drizzle of maple syrup, some dried fruit, slivered almonds and chopped walnuts. I don’t get hungry again for a long time!

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