Table of Contents
Wondering about how to use oats in the kitchen? I’m answering your top questions on oats, including, where do oats come from and how to cook steel cut oats. Plus I’m sharing my top 5 oat recipes.
Of all the grains out there, oats are one that you should always have on hand. Their sheer versatility, as well as health-protective nutrient profile, makes them a must in your pantry. From sweet to savory dishes, this versatile food is a staple in many regions beyond our borders, including Africa, Australia, South America, Asia, and Europe. Nutritious and budget-friendly, this whole grain is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and more.
Where Do Oats Come From?
The humble common oat (Avena sativa) is a cereal grain, and it is available in a variety of forms, including rolled or cut into oatmeal, or ground into an oat flour (which you can make yourself by grinding oats in your blender). Oat is traced back to about 2000 BC in the Middle East and Mediterranean region. Today, it is an important staple crop (sixth in the world’s cereal production) grown in the cool season. It is used traditionally in porridge, as well as in breads, cookies, muesli or granola.
What Are the Nutrition Benefits of Oats?
Oats are rich in protein, slow-digesting carbs, minerals, vitamins, bioactive compounds, soluble fiber, and digestion resistant starch; steel cut oats have an even lower glycemic index. This whole grain is a veritable powerhouse of plant-based nutrition. A serving of steel cut oats (1/4 cup dry) contains 4 grams of dietary fiber and 6 g of protein. They are also rich in important micronutrients, such as vitamin B1 (25% DV), biotin (26% DV), manganese (83% DV), phosphorus (29% DV), molybdenum (64% DV), and copper (27% DV). It’s no wonder this healthy grain has long been touted for its health benefits.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Numerous studies have shown that if you eat oats on a regular basis, you can lower your cholesterol and reduce blood glucose levels. Why do they have this ability? Namely, they are a great source of soluble fiber, in particular beta-glucan, which is the active component responsible for the cholesterol-lowering and diabetes-fighting activity of oats. Yet there’s more to the story, as a study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research showed that the nutrition power goes far beyond fiber. Oats are also rich in plant compounds that have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases. In particular, oats have benefits for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as managing glucose levels if you have diabetes. And, importantly, oats can be a bonus for healthy weight, as they increase satiety–helping you feel fuller for longer.
Do Oats Have Gluten?
Technically, the oat cereal grain is a gluten-free grain. However, oats are often processed in facilities that handle wheat, so contamination with gluten is common. If you are sensitive to gluten, look for certified gluten-free oats to ensure they are not contaminated.
How to Cook Oats
With forms such as old-fashioned, rolled, steel cut, and flour, there are endless ways to include this whole grain in your diet. You can use them for breakfast recipes, such as overnight oats, add them to snack bars for extra energy, stir them into granola, mix them into baked goods, and cook with them in savory dishes (see recipes below). You can even make homemade dog treats with oat flour! Their mild, enjoyably nutty flavor, and the variety of recipes they can be included in make this whole grain a terrific staple grain, reaching far beyond the familiarity of breakfast cereal.
So what’s the deal with rolled oats vs quick oats? Quick cooking (or instant) oats have been precooked and dried, so it requires less cooking at home. The texture is a bit firmer and chewier in rolled oats (aka old-fashioned oats).
What about old fashioned oats vs rolled oats? These two terms are synonymous–meaning, they are the same type of oat product. This type of oat is simply the whole kernel of oat that has been rolled or flattened. You simply cook the oats to bring them back to life!
If you’re wondering how to cook steel cut oats, rolled oats, and quick oats, here is a simple guide.
Oats Cooking Guide
|Old-Fashioned (or Rolled) Oats
|Instant (or Quick-Cooking) Oats
|Steel Cut Oats
|½ cup oats
|⅓ cup oats
|¼ cup oats
|1 cup water
|½ cup boiling water
|1 ½ cups water
|Cook oats and water for 5 minutes over medium heat.
|Mix oats plus boiling water and let stand for 2 minutes.
|Cook oats and water for 25-30 minutes over medium heat
Check out these Top 5 Oat Recipe ideas, and get cooking with oats today!
Top 5 Oat Recipes
1. Mix Up Easy Overnights Oats
While oats for breakfast may be as familiar as apple pie, you can seriously up your breakfast game with a nutrient-packed, grab-and-go take on this classic: Overnight Oats. This is one of my favorite plant-based breakfasts, because you can mix it up the night before, and grab it the next morning. Try this Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats recipe, which features plant-based milk, pumpkin, and maple syrup, topped with pumpkin seeds for a little bit of crunch. Watch the video for this recipe here. Yum! And while you’re at it, try these other overnight oats recipes:
2. Mix Oats into Baked Treats
From snack bars to cakes to cookies, oats can add chewy, earthy, healthy goodness to all of your baked goods. Check out these Pine Nut Oat Cookies to get inspired to stir in oats to your next cookie recipe. And try these other oats baked goods treats:
3. Feature Oats as the Star of the Plate
Oats aren’t just for breakfast food! Oats can be incorporated into delicious savory, protein-rich entrees, such as patties, stews, chili, loaves, “meatballs, and veggie burgers. Oats add texture, firmness, mouth feel, and so much good nutrition to main dish recipes. Try the zucchini patties recipe above, and some of these favorite oats entrees:
4. Create a Savory Oat Bowl
This whole grain can go beyond sweet cereal dishes to the savory, as it makes a great base for a hearty meal filled with your favorite plant-based proteins and veggies. This balanced Savory Steel Cut Oats recipe is a delicious way to incorporate this whole grain into your collection of breakfast recipes. You can even enjoy it as a breakfast for dinner meal!
5. Make the Perfect Weekend Brunch
Planning a weekend brunch? Oats have you covered! From baked oats, steel cut oats bowls, and custom granola blends to oat waffles, oat sweet breads, and granola parfaits there is just so much you can do with lovely, delicious oats! Try these brunch-worthy oats recipes too:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8625765/ Paudel, D., Dhungana, B., Caffe, M., & Krishnan, P. (2021). A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. Foods, 10(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10112591
Check out my other Plant 101 Guides below:
Tempeh vs Tofu
Top 5 Ways to Use Rapini + Rapini Recipe Guide
Top 5 Ways to Use Turmeric + Turmeric Recipes
Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas
How to Use Blackberries
How to Use Sweet Potatoes
How to Use Carrots
As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information about affiliate links, click here.