Saturday, August 22, 2009

The best way to cook steel cut oats

Last week there was a sale on organic oatmeal at our local supermarket – 2 for $5. Sweet! I eat oatmeal every morning this is PERFECT!
Well, that’s until I opened the container and realized they were steel cut oats. UGH!
I was so upset because they look different, and I was obviously going to have to cook them different. Why didn’t I read the damn box??

Well I’m happy to report that after giving them a try, I love them. And I actually think they’re slightly better than rolled oats. They’re more filling too. One serving with my regular toppings of 1 scoop of PB, 1 Tbsp. flax and one banana keeps me full for around 5 hours. 5 HOURS?! Yes. Not that I like to go that long without eating but I’ve gotten caught running around and realizing I went that long beyond lunchtime and was absolutely fine. That never happens with me.

I also found that it takes less to fill me up for the rest of the day too. My lunches and dinners are much smaller because I’m still slightly satisfied from my breakfast. Who can complain about that?



Okay, so let me take a step back to talk about the main difference between rolled oats and steel cut oats. It’s the cut. Rolled oats are rolled out, flattened, and slightly steamed or cooked a little for a faster cooking time. Since rolled oats are rolled out, the texture is much different than steel cut oats, which are the whole, raw oat cut into smaller chunks.


They almost look like bird seed or cut up corn kernels.
Vs. Rolled oats

You all know what a regular bowl of oatmeal looks and tastes like. Steel cut oats have much crunchier, nuttier flavor and texture.
I’ve read in many places that some people think steel cut oats have more soluble fiber even though the containers both say they have the same amount. But I do feel that because the steel cut oats are not pre-cooked to advance the cooking process, more water is allowed to be absorbed into the small kernels, ultimately leaving you feel fuller longer.
And yes, with more absorption means a longer cooking time. This is the negative that people find with steel cut oats; they are a pain in the ass to cook. I went through many-a-dry bowls of this oatmeal before I figured out how to make it work. Warning: I am a microwave person. I know many people don’t like to use them, but they help me save time and dishes. If you don’t like to use a microwave, these oats will take up to 20 minutes to cook. That’s not including the time it takes for them to cool down and thicken up enough for you to eat.

This is how I make steel cut oats in under 10 minutes, all in the same time that my coffee is brewing:

  • 1 serving rolled oats (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk * The extra liquid is very important to cooking these properly!! Otherwise they will be way too dry and you’ll have to add it in the end anyway.*
  • sprinkle cinnamon

Place the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and cook on medium power for 5 1/2 minutes. Cooking on medium power is the key here people. If you put it on high, the oats bubble over and overflow. This has happened to me so many times and I can’t tell you how much I hate losing half, if not all of my breakfast--especially when I’m at work. I found cooking it on high is too much heat for any kind of oatmeal making, so using medium heat allows them to cook more thoroughly without any fear of overflow.

While the oats are microwaving, I clean out my coffee carafe, measure out and grind my coffee (I will never go back to pre-ground beans again) and start making my coffee. By this time, the oats are just about finishing up round 1 of cooking.
When the oats are done, take them out and stir them. Stir them well. Place back in the microwave for another 3 1/2 minutes on medium power.
During this time, my coffee is just about done. I pour my coffee into my mug, mix with milk and agave nectar, and bring to the table (or my desk.)
When the microwave beeps to tell you round 2 of cooking is complete, they will look watery but they need to look like that. Not so watery that they look like they haven’t cooked at all, but watery enough to give some time for the oats to continue absorbing the liquid. Oatmeal always thickens after it’s done cooking! Give the bowl a good stir and add whatever ingredients you wish. I add one small banana, 1 tbsp. whole flax seeds, and 1 large tsp. crunchy PB. I stir again really well and then I get the perfect consistency.


I like them to be a bit more creamy so if you like yours a little thicker, just cook them for another minute on the second time around, and next time add 1/4 cup less liquid.

It is important to know that the first round of cooking is just a prep. If you don’t take them out to stir, you will be waiting on them forever. I’ve tried just putting them in for 8 minutes to cook all in one step and I still had to stir and put it back in for another few minutes. If you don’t do it in two steps, it will not work! (as least it never has for me) And for some people who say they don’t have time, I found that you can do other stuff in between: i.e. make coffee, or on days that I’m rushing, finish getting dressed, put on my makeup, etc. If you don’t have 10 minutes to make breakfast, you can do like I do and wait until you get to work to make them. Most work places (most) have microwaves available. So when you get to work, put the stuff in the micro while you’re starting up your computer and getting settled in. (however some bosses would rather your breakfast be done before your workday begins. When I had this type of boss, I got to work 10 minutes early. I didn’t even miss that time in the morning. It’s all worth it to me for a good, hearty breakfast.)

I also know there are people out there who just don’t like to eat breakfast. I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t tell you that you need to change that dirty little not-habit, but this is a good post for you too just in case you feel hungry enough to try.

I still will eat a bowl of rolled oats if I want to do a cold breakfast (overnight oats) but I still don’t seem to stay full and as satisfied from rolled oats as I do from the steel oats.

Have a safe and healthy Saturday folks! Enjoy your weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment