Oats are sweet, earthy-flavoured grains and naturally gluten-free. They are my comfort food; simple, soothing, delicious, affordable and nutritious.
Oats have a low glycemic index, and is particularly high in a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which is excellent to help stabilise blood sugar, lower cholesterol, improve heart health and promote bowel movement. It is also high in protein, iron, and the B vitamin thiamine, calcium and magensium. Oats (especially milky oat seeds) are incredible for the nervous system such as anxiety and depression, as well as digestive problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Oats boost serotonin and melatonin levels, the “happy” and “sleepy” hormone respectively, which accounts for its calming effects.
Types of oats
The following section covers the different types of oats available in supermarkets. Typically, I go for steel cut oats or old-fashioned rolled oats. I will grind down these types of oats in a spice-grinder or blender to obtain oat flour, when needed in recipes.
Whole Oat Groats
Whole oat groats are oat kernels with the inedible hull removed; leaving the bran, endosperm and germ layers. This takes the longest to cook, about 1+ hour on stove-top. It has a nutty flavour with chewy texture.
Steel-Cut (Irish) Oats
Steel-cut oats and whole oat groats that have bee cut into a few pieces with a steel blade. It needs about 50 minutes cooking time on the stove-top.
Scottish oats are a coarse meal of irregularly broken bits that are stone-ground from whole oat groats, as opposed to cut with a steel blade. This method originated in Scotland centuries ago. When cooked, it is creamier than steel-cut oats.
Rolled (Old-Fashioned/Regular) Oats
Rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed to soften, then rolled into flakes. The steaming and increased surface area means that these cook in just 10 minutes on the stove-top. It gives a creamy, velvety porridge texture.
Quick or Instant Rolled Oats
Quick oats are flakes that have been rolled thinner than regular rolled oats.
The finely ground meal of the oat groat’s outer (bran) layer. Though not technically a whole grain, it has the health benefits of high soluble fibre; the oat bran contains almost all of the fibre in the oat kernel.
A whole grain flour made from whole oats ground into a fine powder. You can easily make your own oat flour by grinding rolled oats in a spice grinder, blender or food processor. Oat flour is great to use as a thickener and to give body in raw cakes.
Milky Oat Seed
Milky oats are the immature seeds in the whole grain tops in the ‘milky’ stage. They are known in herbal medicine as a tonic for the nervous system. They contain special alkaloids that relax and nourish your nerves while quelling agitation. Milky oat is neither adaptogen nor sedative. It is usually prepared as a tea or tincture.