Everything You Wanted to Know about Oats
Don't forget the Oats.
|There are a few times in my life that I consider "... next to God experiences" and when I found out about oats and began eating them, this was one of those times. I had been vegetarian for a few months at least, maybe a year, eating nothing but raw veggies, salads, fruit and fruit juices. I took a course on "whole foods" and learned about Steel Cut Oats. I began eating them and everything just "straightened out" in my life. Blood sugar was more balanced, I became even more regular and I began to put on some muscle. I began with "Bob's Steel Cut Oats" which take about 20 minutes to prepare. Now I eat "Bob's Scottish Oatmeal" which is a much faster cooking time.
To this day, I begin each morning with Scottish oatmeal and on my re-feed days, have up to 4 servings of oatmeal. Oatmeal is my friend and it should be yours too!
So to start off, here is all I have learned to date about this wondrous little grain:
Oats are the third leading cereal crop produced in the United States (after wheat and corn) and the fourth most important crop world-wide. They were once considered a weed which grew right with the barley and wheat. One day farmers decided to "join 'em rather than fight 'em," and oats started being planted as a crop by itself. It fares best in cool, moist climates, which is why they are such a popular staple of the British Isles like Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The grain was introduced into the Americas in 1602 by a sea captain who planted them in one of the islands off the coast of Massachusetts. They were a popular grain, but corn had a better yield per acre crop, so their popularity wasn't as great as corn. Today, nearly half of the world's oat crop--more than 4 billion bushels a year--is grown in the United States and Canada.
While we feed most of our oats to our animals, a look into Scottish cookbook to see the variety of ways that oats are presented to eat to get your mind off having to have it only in the form of oatmeal. That is what we will do below here.
Nutrient Values and Virtues of Oats
Oat kernels look very much like wheat in structure. They have an outer covering of bran which protects the starchy endosperm and the germ that sits at the bottom of the grain. Because the oat kernel is soft, the nutritious bran is not removed. Whole grain oats contain seven B vitamins, vitamin E, and nine minerals, including iron and calcium. The quality and quantity of the protein in oats is far superior to that of wheat and most other grains. One ounce of oats has TWICE the protein of wheat or corn flakes. But the most important nutritional advantages are the soluble fiber and the GLA (gamma linoleic acid).
The soluble fiber is what gives it the gummy texture, and it helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood. GLA is considered an "activated" essential fatty acid. Very small amounts of it fill the metabolic pipelines and allow the body to make other essential fatty acids.
Forms of Oats
Oat grains are enclosed in two tough husks that must be removed. The grains are cleaned and toasted, husked and scoured, resulting in whole oat kernels called GROATS. These contain nearly all the original nutritional value of the grain. Oat groats are much softer and quicker cooking than wheat berries, and can be used in many other meals that breakfast, which I hope to demonstrate through the recipes found here. They are not refined before or after processing, so they retain most of their nutrients regardless of the form in which they are eaten (according to Jane Brody in her book "Good Food Book." Sears says this is not so. It is up to you to decide from the information that follows.
Here is where everyone goes nuts. What is a groat, steel cut, Scotch, Irish or instant oat? Or a GROAT, for that matter??? Whenever anyone asks the question from now on, send them here for the answer! Remember, 3 Tbs. uncooked ROLLED OATS equals one carbohydrate block,but because STEEL CUT OATS are more dense, they only require 2 Tbs.--but check your package just in case, remembering that you have 9 grams of carbohydrates to one carb block AFTER you subtract the dietary fiber ! 1/3 cup cooked also equals one carbohydrate block.
Oat Groats - Whole grain of the oat, with only the outer hard husks removed, then toasted.
Oat Flour - You can make it yourself by grinding rolled oats in a food processor or blender. Oat flour adds lovely flavor to breads and because of certain natural preservative in the oats themselves, it improves their shelf life. Oats contain no gluten, which is needed for bread to rise, so it must be mixed with a gluten-containing flour such as wheat. Substitute 1 of every 5 parts of wheat flour with oat flour. If your recipe is for a quick bread, no addition of other flours is necessary.
Oat sprouts - oat groats are very easy to sprout! Sprouting increases their nutritive values. Add them to sandwiches, salads, stir-fry and soups. Chop them and add them to your bread dough.
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