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How to Make Healthy Oatmeal
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Sep 28, 2009
If you don't have trouble digesting whole grains that contain naturally occurring gluten, oats make for a healthy and satisfying meal - a bowl of hot oatmeal is especially nice on cold fall and winter mornings.
Of the many varieties of oats on the market, your best choice is steel-cut oats, which are whole oat groats that have been cut into small pieces. Steel-cut oats are more nutritious than varieties like rolled or quick oats, which are somewhat nutrient-depleted due to heavier processing.
Steel-cut oats look like this:
Doesn't look anything like the flattened flakes that we're used to, right?
Just a few years ago, I considered myself lucky if I could find steel-cut oats at a health food store.
Today, with the general public being more mindful of healthy eating, steel-cut oats are available in most large grocery stores. Here's how they come packaged at our local market:
Steel-cut oats are about as firm as brown rice and buckwheat. So it takes a little extra prep time to turn these oats into a meal that you can properly digest and enjoy.
To improve digestibility and reduce cooking time, soak steel-cut oats in water for about six hours.
Once you're ready to make your oatmeal, discard the soaking water and combine one cup oats with 4 to 4.5 cups of fresh water. If you want to add some dried fruits like raisins, goji berries, or mulberries for texture and natural sweetness, add them at the same time that you combine your oats and water, as longer exposure time to water will plump up your dried fruits and improve their digestibility.
Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow the oats and dried fruit to cook until you reach your desired consistency. You'll need to stir frequently to keep things cooking evenly. And don't use a lid while the oatmeal cooks - this will allow excess water to boil off as the oats cook.
Here's about what your oatmeal should look like when ready to eat:
Sometimes, we add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash of almond milk just before eating. Our boys like this oatmeal with about a teaspoon of raw honey per bowl. A couple of pictures showing our oatmeal with cinnamon and raw honey:
It's quite simply, really, to transition from highly processed oats to steel-cut oats.
Hope this post inspires some cooking with steel-cut oats. Once you experience the chewy texture of real oats, you may find it difficult to go back to highly processed varieties.
If you prefer to be on a gluten-free diet, you can follow the suggestions in this post with millet or quinoa. Millet has more of a dense, hearty feel, while quinoa is much lighter and fluffier than most whole grains.
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