The Groats and the Oats


As the steam gently wafts away from my warm bowl of porridge, I get a little feeling of happiness because I LOVE starting a cold winters day with some oaty goodness.  Because they are so delicious, I can’t help but look for them even when eating breakfast out and I love that they make regular appearances on cafe menu’s.  I often get asked about the different types of oats and the benefits of one over another especially traditional vs. quick oats, so todays post might help you clear a little confusion.

Oats are great all-rounders and are a fabulous source of whole grains, fibre, beta-glucans, a range of essential nutrients and over 26 bioactive substances.  It’s this whole package working together that are thought to help protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Another interesting thing about oats is their effect on the health of your gut.  Recently on the BBC2 programme ‘Trust me I’m a Doctor,’ Dr Christoffer Van Tulleken described his six week long experiment of eating 100 grams of oats each day and the probiotic effect it had on his intestinal tract.  The findings were very interesting.

The Menu of Oats


Oat Groats

The whole oat as it is harvested from the grain but ‘de-hulled’ so that the inedible husk has been removed and the oat has been cleaned, making it safe to eat. These oats can take up an hour to cook.

Steel Cut Oats/Oat Kibble/Irish Oatmeal

Oat groats cut into 2-3 pieces with a steel blade (before being rolled). Cutting the oat exposes more surface area which can be penetrated by water during cooking, making it quicker to prepare than an oat groat (around 30 minutes).

Scottish Oats

The Scots traditionally stone ground their groats and then rolled them rather than rolling out steel cut oats. The result is rolled oats that naturally vary in size and can help deliver creamy textured oatmeal.

Muesli Oats

Muesli oats are rolled to a greater thickness than other rolled porridge-type oats. As with other rolled oats, the oats are often kilned to give them a nutty taste and help prevent rancidity and then steamed and rolled to the desired thickness.

Traditional /Rolled Oats/Oatmeal

As with muesli oats, these are steel cut oats, which are then kilned, steamed and rolled to a specific thickness. They generally take around 2-5 minutes to prepare.

Quick Oats

Quick oats are the same as other rolled oats, taking the steel cut oat groats and then kilning, steaming and rolling the oat. They are simply rolled thinner to allow the oat to cook more quickly, around 90 seconds to prepare in the microwave.

This little oat dictionary is kindly supplied by Uncle Toby’s.

“Once we sowed wild oats, now we cook them in the microwave” Anon

Keeen-Waaaa

A few days ago  I was having dinner with my dear friends Jude and Dan and whilst solving the problems of the world we hit upon the subject of fancy-pants names.   Have you ever noticed that sometimes things that are out of date suddenly become new, sometimes just with the change to a fancy name? This happened to a suburb of Perth called Balga, that became like new when it was renamed Westminster a few years ago.  To me it conjures up images of the Queen and palaces and is infinitely more poshish.  So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that a a simple grain that I learn’t about in uni a few years back has had its moniker altered too.  I am referring to good old Quinoa, a crop that originates in South America and was held sacred by the Inca’s, in fact they called it ‘mother of all grains.’  Quinoa is actually a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal or grain and it is closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds. Yum. Quinoa has a very high protein content and like oats, it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) for humans making it an unusually complete protein source in the plant world.  Quinoa is gluten free, a good source of fibre and a source of iron (although the iron is not easy to absorb) and magnesium. My first taste experience with Quinoa was at a picnic on the shores of the the Swan River. It was part of a tabbouli like salad and it was no taste sensation. Thankfully Jude has come to the rescue via a cookbook written by Michelle Bridges of the Biggest Loser fame.  She claims to have found the answer to enjoying Quinoa in the form of Quinoa Porridge with Cranberries and Raisins which I will share with you right now. 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained 500ml water 375ml low fat milk 1/3 cup dried cranberries and 2 tablespoons raisins 1/4 cup chopped walnuts Combine the quinoa and water in saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered for 10 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the milk and the dried fruit and nuts.  Cook, covered, for another for another 10 minutes and then stir in the remaining milk. I will embark upon the porridge this week, complete with a report and would love to know if anybody else gives it a try. So when, Jude and I proposed, did Quinoa become Keeen-Waaaa? Ok, so I am exaggerating a little.  The food is known as quinoa in English but the spelling and pronunciation differs depending on the region in South America.    In some parts it is known as ‘kinwa’ or ‘keen-wah’ or ‘kwi-NOH-a.’  I don’t care, I am sticking to Quinoa.  Its not fancy or trendy but hello, its just a pseudocereal.