I thought we’d talk about food today. I like eating it and I’m fairly sure you do too 😉 last week I did a blog on veggies so if you missed it check it out before you go ( Veggie Tales).
Like veggies, this other food gets a bad rap and many people don’t like it or have horrible childhood memories of their mother forcing them to eat it.
This particular food has interested me for awhile but I haven’t really investigated it much until recently.
Ok I know you’re sitting on the edge of your chair in eager anticipation wondering what it is…..
Oatmeal my friends. Oatmeal.
Now stay with me… don’t get out of that chair and leave just yet. There’s a new kid on the oatmeal block called steel cut oats, and maybe like Goldilocks from the Three Bears story, I’m in pursuit of the oatmeal ( or porridge 😉 that’s “just right”.
This isn’t your moms oatmeal you could paste walls with. I can say that ’cause I’ve had it too. Often it comes in little packages already loaded with sugar and you add hot water and stir till mush. Oh I know they’ve upgraded to little cute containers now but the operations are still the same. Maybe you like the idea of oatmeal but you just can’t get past the gooey consistency of it.
Let’s talk about steel cut oats and the difference between them and rolled oats.
The difference between rolled and steel cut oats is that while both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted, ending up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.
Quick or instant oats are the most processed of the varieties. They are pre-cooked, dried, then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats. They cook more quickly than rolled or steel cut but retain less of their texture and can cook up mushy.
Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into 2 or 3 pieces for a relatively unprocessed product.
Nutritionally, steel cut oats are almost identical to old fashioned oats. Regularly eating steel cut oats gives you the same health benefits as eating rolled oats. A diet that includes oats may decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
So if all varieties offer up very close, similar nutrition, why eat steel cut oats?
What sets steel cut apart is how they compare on the glycemic index. ( this is how slow or fast foods process in the body which can cause blood sugar up’s and downs)
The less-processed steel-cut oats have a much lower glycemic load than higher-processed quick oats. Low-GI foods slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body, and in contrast, high-GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop. The best option then are the steel-cut oats, with rolled oats a great second choice. They’ll keep you feeling fuller longer, which will keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.
This also makes it great for diabetics who need to monitor their foods more closely.
Ok and another selling point ? As mentioned above, quick oats can be very mushy which causes many people to stay away or remember bad childhood experiences with them.
Steel cut oats look like chopped up rice, take the longest to cook, yet maintain a slightly chewy consistency, which I found out I really like. Once it’s cooked it still has shape to it.
I decided to try these oats in a quest for a food that would give me long lasting energy and not bother my tummy when I took off for long endurance workouts.
Anytime I’m going to be on the road for over an hour, especially an hour and a half or more, I know I need to get a “mini” meal in. I used to feel like I shouldn’t do that… like have a pre-meal and then come in hours later and eat… eat twice?!
Sigh. How crazy my thinking used to be. Much like taking off on a trip in your car with almost no gas, it’s as crazy to think of hitting the road for miles on foot or bike and not be properly fueled.
A pre-meal is usually a couple hundred calories. My usual choice for breakfast involves plenty of protein and veggies. However, I need some solid carbs in my system more than protein before I do long endurance workouts ( remember boys and girls, carbs, are energy 😉 ) so I save the eggs for after my workouts.
I had tried a half a bagel but after I had been out for awhile felt like it was expanding in my tummy. I tried various cereals. Some things worked better than others. I tried the standard banana but that was just teasing my stomach after it had been fasting all night.
I got quite good at going on empty but that only works so well before my performance starts to suffer.
I know my limits of what workout/distance I can go empty on and what distance/workout I need a pre-meal.
Traditional steel cut oats take a long time to cook and there are lots of slow cooker recipes and tips to cook them. However, I found a faster cooking one in the store. These take about 4-5 minutes to cook.
They have no added sugars so I can add what I want. Typically, it’s some dried low sugar Craisins, a few raw nuts (almonds or walnuts) a dusting of brown sugar for a bit of sweet, and some milk to blend it together.
It makes for a solid, hearty pre-breakfast for me before running or cycling…or both 😛
I love the consistency as it definitely retains its shape and the texture is a bit chewy but it definitely takes it away from the mushy category. Steel cut oats definitely shine in the texture and flavor departments.
One tip I’ve read to enhance the flavor is lightly toasting them before you cook. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to try that 😉
Once you cook your steel cut oats, the topping ideas are endless and you can be as creative or basic as you want.
Consider some of these choices:
Peanut butter, or almond butter.
Jelly, jam or apple sauce.
Yogurt or a splash of cream
Fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.
Dried fruit like craisins, cherries, blueberries etc
Toasted chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pecans
Flax seed or chia seeds
Toasted or raw coconut
The ideas are endless. Adding in healthy combinations gives you a solid meal to start your day and give you energy.
If you need a good energy source before a hard workout, this is a great source of long lasting carbs.
Now… I hope I’ve sold you on the idea of steel cut oats… forget the old mushy oatmeal idea and be like Goldilocks and go experiment with the new kid on the block. You might find steel cut oats are “just right”.
You can thank me later 😉