4 ways to celebrate National Oatmeal Month
January is National Oatmeal Month. What better time of year to incorporate this nutritious breakfast and snack food into your diet?
You may have noticed there are different types of oats — instant oats, rolled oats and steel-cut oats — so knowing which type to buy can be confusing.
The good news: any way you go with high-quality oats (organic oats and oats without added sugars or preservatives), you have chosen an awesome food.
All three types of oats have one thing in common: nutritional value. Carbs, protein, calcium, fiber and iron levels are about the same.
Here are the differences:
- Steel-cut oats, also known as Scotch oats or Irish oatmeal, are the least processed — they have been cut into pieces, but not rolled. These require the most cooking time.
- Rolled oats have been steamed and flattened with huge rollers and require about 15 minutes of cooking time.
- Quick-cooking or “instant” oats have been cut into pieces before being steamed and rolled into thinner flakes; they cook in about 5 minutes. Note: Instant oats can’t be substituted in recipes calling for oats; they will adversely affect the texture of baked goods.
As for which type is healthiest? Steel-cut oats have a significantly lower glycemic index — a measurement of how much a person’s blood sugar will spike after eating. This tie-breaker clinches the deal for me. If you have a choice, choose steel-cut oats. Cook ahead, and store extra in the refrigerator or freezer.
Below are four delicious ways to eat oats. For these recipes, regular oatmeal is recommended until you become more familiar with the longer cooking time steel-cut oats require.
You won’t believe you are eating a healthy breakfast because it tastes like dessert!
1 small carton of fruit-flavored yogurt
7 walnut halves, chopped
2 tablespoons berries (any type)
3 tablespoons oats, dry
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter
Layer the yogurt, chopped nuts and berries in a 6-ounce, oven-proof ramekin.
In a small bowl, combine oats and brown sugar. Mix well. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a table knife. Sprinkle oat mixture over yogurt mixture.
Turn oven to broil and place ramekin inside, watching carefully while top browns (this takes a very short time).
When oat topping is browned, turn off broiler and let cobbler sit for about five minutes to allow yogurt mixture to heat through.
You can also brown the cobbler topping by using a kitchen torch, sweeping the flame across the top. It’s fun and quick!
Walnuts or other nuts
My favorite method for prepping oats ahead of time is to cook a pot of oats, add walnuts and dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, then portion the oats into a muffin tin. Put the muffin tin in the freezer overnight, then remove from tin and store in sealable baggies.
These become a quick food choice when you are ready to eat. Microwave for a minute or so and add milk and brown sugar if desired. Leftover cranberry sauce would also be yummy over warm oatmeal.
Breakfast apple muesli
Pictured at the top of this post.
Double this recipe for a heartier serving.
1/4 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons water
3/4 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 firm apple (Gala, Honeycrisp or your favorite), peeled
1 tablespoon almond slivers, toasted
3/4 tablespoon agave syrup, maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/4 cup plain yogurt
In a medium bowl, combine oats with water. Set aside while you prepare remaining ingredients.
Put lemon juice in small bowl. Cut two thin slices from apple. Dip slices in lemon juice, remove and set aside (these will serve as a garnish).
Shred remaining apple into lemon juice; mix immediately. Stir apple mixture, nuts, syrup and coconut into oat mixture.
Garnish with apple slices and serve with a dollop of yogurt.
Apple slices with peanut butter and muesli
Natural peanut butter
Bob’s Red Mill muesli (or other muesli)
Slather apple slices with peanut butter and sprinkle muesli on top. It’s almost like eating a caramel apple (almost!).
Tip: This type of muesli is also good in a yogurt parfait to give crunch and staying power.
About The Author
Bev Utt, MS, MPH, RD, is a wellness nutritionist and health educator with MultiCare's Center for Healthy Living. More stories by this author