Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oatmeal Snobbery: Why I Prefer Steel Cut Oats

I've always liked oatmeal.  I know, I know - it's kind of an obvious thing to say. Like the guy my husband worked with who said, "Maybe it's just me, but I really like sunsets."  Just like everyone else. Or like when people say that they think clowns can be kind of scary.  Not out of the ordinary. Or when people say they're afraid of needles. Who isn't a little?

But I digress...

I really like oatmeal.  Especially this time of year.  And just when I didn't think a regular old bowl of oatmeal could get any better, I tried steel-cut oats. According to good ol' Wikipedia, steel-cut oats are basically the inner part of the oat grain and is cut into pieces by steel (hence the name) instead of being rolled flat like the ones we've come to love.  Steel-cut oats are hard, similar to grains of rice or wheat.  They take longer to cook than rolled oats, but they're so worth the wait. I can't even explain completely why they're better, but they just are.  They have this chewy texture and a nutty taste.  Almost like oatmeal crossed with a bowl of brown rice. And they just so happen to be healthier for you than the more processed rolled oats. Simply put, once I had steel-cut oats, I became an oatmeal snob. The rolled ones are just well...sub-par.

So why mention this?  Steel-cut oats are a great frugal breakfast. I buy them in bulk at my local health food store for around 70 cents a pound.  A pound of steel-cut oats will make a lot of breakfasts.  Plus, the amazing thing about steel-cut oats is that you can make a big pot of oatmeal at the beginning of the week and enjoy the leftovers for days.  Unlike regular rolled oats, cooked steel-cut oats actually store well. Rolled oats, when refrigerated, will get this weird film and develop a rubbery texture.  Steel-cut oats, after a minute or so in the microwave, taste just as good as when you first made them. This makes them just as convenient as those flavored instant oatmeal packets - and the steel-cut oats are cheaper, healthier, and tastier, too.  What's not to love?

Making a pot steel-cut oatmeal is really easy.  I make a good-sized batch (about three or so servings) with only a cup of oats. In a large saucepan, mix the cup of oats with 4 1/4 cups of water Heat over medium-high until it boils.  Once it's boiling, reduce heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  That's it.  You mix in a little salt and vanilla, if you like.  Once the water is evaporated and the oatmeal is the consistency you like, serve it up. I like mine with honey, cinnamon, flaxmeal, almonds, and some kind of fruit (last summer, I used raspberries from my garden. Heavenly.).  Put whatever you don't use in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator up to three or four days.  This is the kind breakfast that sticks with you for a while since it's so hearty and delicious.  I'm willing to bet you'll become an oatmeal snob like me in no time.

Note:  I'm planning on doing my giveaway this Friday! Details to come...

1 comment:

Nisha said...

Sttel-cut oats are one of my favs too! I cook mine with just 2 cups water, 1 cup milk. 30 min later, I add cinnamon, craisins and coconut! Sometimes I throw in sunflower seeds or slivered almonds, but the craisins have been a staple.

If you look at any oatmeal packaging (one minute, old fashioned, and steel cut) the nutrient content is the same. What is effected by the processing is the glycemic index. Steel-cut is the best way to go.

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