Quick Recipes and Easy

How to Cook Steel Cut Oats

Ever since I turned my family on to steel cut oats, they can’t get enough of them. This includes one child who always made faces whenever I tried to serve him regular oatmeal made from rolled oats.

A steaming bowl of steel cut oatmeal, served with raisins or fresh fruit such as blueberries or strawberries, makes a hearty breakfast any day of the week. Steel cut oats are especially welcome on a cold, rainy day. For me, there’s nothing better at such a time than curling up with a excellent book and my oatmeal while listening to the rain drip and splatter against the windows.

Steel cut oats are the inner part of the oat grain, known as the groat. The groats are cut in two or three pieces in such a way as to enhance the naturally nutty flavor. They are golden-colored and shaped roughly like small grains of rice. Some other names for them are Irish oats, Scotch oats, coarse cut oats, and pinhead oats.

Besides being deliciously chewy, steel cut oats are highly nutritious. They’re especially high in the B vitamins. They also provide protein, calcium and fiber to your diet. An fascinating fact about oatmeal is that it is the only food with naturally occurring GLA, or gamma linolenic acid. GLA is an essential fatty acid.

The one drawback to steel cut oats, and it’s a minor one in my opinion, is that they require a longer cooking time than regular oatmeal. I rather like this aspect of them. It means that to delight in them, you have to slow down and step out of the rush-rush modern world for a while. And what’s incorrect with being forced to take such a break now and then?

Steel cut oats are available in most supermarkets, sold in cans or packages. The two whole-foods type markets in my community also sell steel cut oats from their bulk bins, which saves a small money over the pre-packaged ones.

The basic recipe for steel cut oats is to bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, slowly stir in the oats and heat on high until the oatmeal starts to thicken (about 4 to 6 minutes). Then reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer for about half an hour. Serve with the aforementioned fresh fruit, or add a small milk, honey or brown sugar. It’s all excellent!

If you want to reduce the preparation time for those busy mornings when everyone is trying to get out the door, here’s a way to do it. The night before, boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan or pot. Turn off the heat, stir in a cup of oats, cover the pan or pot, and let sit overnight. In the morning you’ll just need to cook the oatmeal over low heat for 10 minutes or so.

Yes, if you really must, you can microwave steel cut oats. The consistency will be noticeably different, but many people prefer it cooked this way. Try it and choose for yourself.

This microwaving method works pretty well: Mix a half cup of oats with 2 cups of water in a large bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the microwave and zap for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the microwave, stir the oatmeal, then return and zap it for another 4 to 6 minutes. Due to the variances in microwave power, you may need to experiment to find the right cooking times for your particular oven.

Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the solid-gold.info/index.html Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium. Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah’s article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America: solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html

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