Break the Fast: What Are the Different Types of Oats Plus Delicious Recipes!

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Food & Cooking | Comments


If you’re into baking or hot breakfast cereal then you’re probably familiar with one or more of the many different types of oats. While they all come from the oat grain, which grows on the oat plant, the processing the whole grains go through turns them into the many varied types of oats. Read on to learn what are the different types of oats, if they are gluten-free plus how you can use them with two great recipes!

Types of Oats

Photos via Edible Perspective

So what are the different types of oats? Let me show you!

Oat bran:

This is the first part of the oat grain to be processed. Oat bran is actually ground from the hull (like a thin shell) that encases the oat groat. This hull is a nutritional powerhouse and packed with fiber, protein, magnesium and iron, among others. It’s very high in soluble fiber, which is believed to be more easily digested and beneficial to our health than insoluble fiber. Oat bran is also quite low in calories, very quick to cook and extremely satiating. With these nutritional stats, oat bran is an excellent start to your morning. *For cooking instructions see below.

Nutritional specs:

1/2 cup uncooked oat bran = 120 calories, 7 grams fiber, 8 grams protein

Raw Oat Bran

Raw oat bran

Oat groats

Oat groats are what live inside the hull of the oat grain. Cooking oat groats is similar to rice but will run over an hour for the total cook time. The texture is also similar to a thicker rice grain with a lightly sweet and nutty flavor. It’s caloric levels are similar to that of many other grains but it’s fiber and protein are a bit higher. (Brown rice typically has 3 grams of fiber and protein in 1/4 cup.)

Nutritional specs:

1/4 cup uncooked oat groats = 180 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein

Steel-cut oats:

Steel-cut oats are simply the oat groat chopped into pieces. The cooked texture is quite chewy but also has a nice creaminess to it. Steal cut oats take about 15-20 minutes to cook on the stove top, so I wouldn’t consider them a quick morning breakfast. However, making a big batch on Sunday to dole out throughout the week can work really well. The 1/4 cup portion has about the same nutritional value as 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats. While the volume of food is less, they’ll fill you up just as well!

Nutritional specs:

1/4 cup uncooked steel cut oats = 170 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein

Scottish oats:

Scottish oats are more finely ground steel-cut oats. They’re ground about halfway to flour with coarse bits of the the grain sprinkled throughout. I like to pulse steel-cut oats in my blender or large food processor to achieve the Scottish oat texture. I have found that Scottish oats seem to have the most nutty flavor and natural sweetness out of the whole lineup. These are my absolute favorite type of oat. Their chewy to creamy ratio is just perfect, landing more on the creamy side of the spectrum. A bowl of Scottish oats will really stick to your ribs!

Nutritional specs:

1/4 cup uncooked oat groats = 140 calories, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams protein

“Old-fashioned” rolled oats:

Rolled oats are created by steaming and rolling the oat groat. The steaming process partially cooks the oats, which creates a faster cook time at home. Rolled oats will cook in about 4-7 minutes on the stove top and produce a creamy but thick texture. They have a lot of substance to them, unlike quick rolled oats which almost completely lose their form after being cooked. Rolled oats are the most common type of oat used in baking.

Nutritional specs:

1/2 cup rolled oats = 190 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein

Quick rolled oats:

Quick rolled oats are the most processed form of the oat grain, but they still hold a lot of nutritional value. They’re typically what you’ll find in store-bought packets of oatmeal that come in a box. Quick oats are, just like there name says, very quick to cook, as they’ve been rolled even thinner than the rolled oats above. They lose their chewy texture after cooking because of how thinly have are been rolled oat.

Nutritional specs:

1/2 cup uncooked oat bran = 170 calories, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams protein

Oat flour:

Oat flour (not photographed) is flour ground from whole oat groats, steel cut oats, and Scottish Oats. It’s ground until completely soft and flour-like and has a wonderful nutty flavor that is a great addition to baked goods. Grinding rolled oats into flour will also get the job done.

Raw Scottish Oats photographed below.

Raw Scottish Oats

So now that you know the different types of oats you may be wondering, “Are oats gluten-free?”

Technically, yes, but…

The oat grain is naturally gluten-free, but oat plants are commonly grown near wheat fields and/or packaged and processed in plants that also process wheat products. This presents many opportunities for cross-contamination, which can cause people with gluten sensitivities/intolerances or those with Celiac to have adverse reactions.

In recent years, some companies who produce oats have started selling certified gluten-free oats and oat products. This means their oats have gone through rigorous testing to ensure there has been no cross-contamination during the growing or packaging process. Be sure to look for that label if you are on a strict gluten-free diet.

However, even though you can find certified gluten-free oats, some people with Celiac and severe gluten sensitivities are not able to tolerate oats in any form. If you are baking for a friend or family member with gluten-free dietary needs, be sure to ask the details of what they are able to eat.

Hopefully that helps to clear things up a bit! Now let’s get to the cooking with some delicious breakfast!

Scottish Oats Cooking

Recipe for simplified Scottish oats

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Scottish oats
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened, non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Toppings of your choice

Step 1:

Place the Scottish oats in a small pot with the milk and water and stir together. Turn on medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Step 2:

Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. The ending texture should be creamy and thick but pourable. For a thicker texture cook on the longer end. Taste test to see if the oats are done to your liking. Add more milk or water and cook longer if desired.

Step 3:

Portion into bowls and top however you’d like.

In this version I stirred in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla after the oats were finished cooking. I then added walnuts, strawberries, almond butter and cacao nibs. Add honey or maple syrup, if desired.

Scottish Oats With Toppings

Step 4: (optional)

To store: Let fully cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days.

To reheat: Place desired amount in a pot with about 2 tablespoons of milk or water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Or, add to a bowl with the extra liquid, stir, and microwave until hot.

Cooking tips:

  • If the mixture becomes too thick while cooking, stir in 2 tablespoons of milk or water.
  • The oats will thicken quite a bit after pouring into your bowl, so remove from the heat while the oats are a bit thinner than you want.
  • Cow’s milk can also be used, or you can nix milk altogether and use water only. 
  • My favorite liquids to use are unsweetened almond and soy milk for the extra nutty flavor.

Cooked Oat Bran With Banana

Recipe for easy oat bran

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, non-dairy milk
  • Scant 1/2 cup water

Step 1:

Place the oat bran in a small pot with the milk and water and stir together. Turn on medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Step 2:

Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened.

Step 3:

Pour into a bowl and let sit for a few minutes to thicken further. Top as desired.

  • In this version, I added 1/2 sliced medium banana and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon just before the oat bran was finished cooking. I then topped it with the other half of sliced banana and a scoop of peanut butter.

Step 4: (optional)

To store: Let fully cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days.

To reheat: Place desired amount in a pot with about 2 tablespoons of milk or water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Or, add to a bowl with the extra liquid, stir, and microwave until hot.

Check out the tips for the Scottish oats above! They’re the same!

Cooked Oat Bran With Banana and Peanut Butter

So there you have it. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about oats and then some. Now, dig in!

Are you an oatmeal for breakfast type of person?