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My Relationship with Oatmeal — an article on the Smart Living Network
July 21, 2011 at 4:18 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

My Relationship with Oatmeal


I ate oatmeal as a child. I think most children do. According to my mother, I liked it a lot.

Still, I remember getting to a point where oatmeal disgusted me. The texture, the noise it makes when you stir it, the pasty colorlessness of it... Eww.

Then, about a year ago, my diet changed... a lot. I became a vegetarian and tried to incorporate more of that magic stuff: fiber. Apparently, whole grain oats are a great way to get fiber, iron, and protein, as well as a ton of other vitamins and minerals. So... golden!

I was sure to get the plain oatmeal (no added sugar, salt or unpronounceable ingredients) and add my own fresh fruit.

Steel-Cut Oats

But then, I learned about steel cut oats. I'd had no idea.

Most oatmeal that you see in the store is rolled oats, which means that they are just a little more processed than they are in nature. When they get rolled out, they do lose some of the fiber content, but do retain a lot of it, as well as the nutritional value. 

The other differences are mainly about texture. While rolled oats get mushy in water, steel-cut oats maintain their grain-like shape (about half the size of a grain of rice) and stay firmer when cooked (which does take longer than with the rolled oats).

The extra fiber is great, but I really love the more solid texture of the steel cut oats. One of the things I really like to do is chop up a soft boiled egg to mix in or maybe some natural peanut butter and raisins. These options don't work nearly as well with the rolled oats.

So, if you've ever been put off by the texture of 'regular' oatmeal, give the steel cut a try. They're not as easy to find as the rolled oats, but I've started seeing them more and more in the large grocery stores, so maybe it'll get easier.

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  • Hi Katie!

    Oatmeal is one of my favorite morning meals as well - Old Fashioned Rolled Oats or Steel Cut. The rolled oats work better for my busy schedule as I can easily toss them into a container with trail mix, peanut butter, or cinnamon and grab hot water when I am ready to dine. The steel cut version takes longer to prepare and is recommended to be prepared ahead of time in a crockpot or on the stove - this is the only way my mom will eat oatmeal :)

    I noticed that you mentioned steel cut oats contain more fiber. This is true if you double the serving size of steel cut oats, yet as the serving size is only 1/4 cup for steel cut and 1/2 cup for rolled oats, the nutrition is nearly identical. The difference is merely 1/2 gram of fat.

    Here are the nutrition facts of Quaker Steel Cut Oats compared with Quaker Rolled Oats:

    1/4 cup of Quaker steel cut oats:
    Calories – 150
    Fat – 2.5g
    Carbs – 27g
    Fiber – 4g
    Sugar – 1g
    Protein – 5g

    1/2 cup of Quaker old fashioned oats and quick oats:
    Calories – 150
    Fat – 3g
    Carbs – 27g
    Fiber – 4g
    Sugar – 1g
    Protein – 5g

    I hope this helps to clear up any confusion, though I certainly encourage both as a delicious option for a nutritious meal :)

    - Jessica Butcher, RD

  • Hi Jessica,

    Well, thank you for clearing that up! My sources were apparently overstating the benefits;) I think I also assumed that the rolling process caused fiber to be lost simply because the grain was being disassembled, so to speak.

    I think I'll stick to the steel cut, but I feel better knowing that the occasional rolled oat won't put a dent in my fiber intake;)

    Thanks again!

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