Oat groats can be cooked and served as hot cereal or prepared like rice and used as a side dish or added to stuffing. When steamed and flattened, oat groats become rolled oats (old-fashioned oats or oatmeal), which may be prepared as hot oatmeal or added to breads and cookies. Oats are rich in antioxidants, so breads, cookies, and other items made with oats don’t spoil as quickly. Oats are a good source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, thiamin and pantothenic acid. To prepare, pour 1/2 cup oats into 1 cup of boiling water or milk. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Serve with soy, rice, oat, or nut milk, and sweeten with honey or pure maple syrup or add cinnamon, raisins or chopped apples.
Whole oats (groats or kernels) – the least processed of the oatmeal cereals, and require the longest amount of cooking. It isn’t very common to use these oats for cooking.
Steel cut (Irish or Scottish) oats – These oats are cut, not rolled, with a similar appearance to chopped up rice. They have a chewy, nutty consistency and take a long time to cook (15-60 minutes). They contain more fiber, protein, calcium and other minerals than other varieties of oats but on the downside they have more calories and fat.
Rolled/ “old fashioned” oats – These look like flat little ovals. They take quicker to cook than steel cut oats, but longer than quick oats. Mueslis and granolas are usually made with rolled oats.
Quick oats – similar to rolled oats, but have been cut before being steamed and flattened. They take quicker to cook, and are generally used in breads and muffins. They are nutritionally very similar to rolled oats but are digested more quickly, and may not keep you as full for a long time.
Instant oats – These are the fastest to cook, because they have been rolled very thinly. While they are more convenient than other oats, you’ll often find them with added flavors and salt. They also lose a lot of their nutrition content because of the high amount of processing they have undergone.
Oat flour – Oats are ground into a flour and can be really useful for anyone intolerant to wheat flour.
Oat bran – made from the outer layer of the oat kernel. Oat bran is very high in fiber and usually eaten as a hot cereal, or sprinkled on a cold cereal. It’s a great way to boost the fiber of baked goods.