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Also Known as
Oatmeal, quick cooking rolled oats, quick rolled oats, rolled oats
Oats, known scientifically as Avena sativa, is a hardy cereal grain capable of growing in poor soil conditions in which other crops are unable to thrive. Though harvested in the fall, oats is available throughout the year. Most popular as a breakfast cereal, oats may also be used in a variety of recipes including salads and desserts to add more nutrition to the dish.
Oats owes its distinctive flavour to the roasting process that it undergoes after being harvested and cleaned. Although the grains are then hulled, the process does not strip away their bran and germ. This makes oats a great source of fibre and nutrients.
How to Select
Coarsely powdered oats
To powder oats coarsely, first dry roast the oats on a slow flame till it turns crisp. While doing this, take care to stir frequently and avoid burning the oats as it can give a very off taste. Cool slightly and blend in a mixer into a coarse powder. Store in an air-tight container and use as required. If adding powdered oats to a cooked cereal or grain dish, do so at the end of cooking, since the soluble fibre in the oats can thicken liquids if left for too long.
• While purchasing oatmeal, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.
• Choose rolled oats and oatmeal that are available in health shops.
• Buy small quantities of oats at one time since this grain has a slightly higher fat content than other grains and will go rancid more quickly.
• Oats are generally available in pre-packaged containers as well as bulk bins.
• Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered, free from debris and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.
• Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture. Culinary Uses
• Oats have numerous uses in the form of oatmeal and fine oat flour.
• A steaming bowl of fresh cooked oatmeal is the perfect way to start off your day. Add your favourite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal and enjoy it to your taste.
• Oats may also be consumed raw, and cookies with raw oats are becoming popular.
• Oatmeal is chiefly eaten as porridge, but may also used in a variety of baked goods, such as oatcakes, oatmeal cookies and oat bread.
• Oats is also used in many cold cereals, particularly muesli and granola.
• Different types of oats require slightly different cooking methods for making hot cereal or porridge. For all types, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer.
• Oatmeal cookies are a favourite with kids and adults alike.
• Add oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
• Sprouting increases the nutritive value. So, add sprouted oats to sandwiches, salads, stir-fries and soups.
• Being partly cooked in the mill, oats can easily be teamed with fresh or dried fruits and natural yoghurt.
• It can be assimilated as a part of any meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner.
• Oats makes a very good dessert ingredient. Being low in sugar, it compensates for other rich ingredients.
• Oats is very versatile and amenable to use in several dishes as it is partly cooked in the mill itself. It can easily be used to make quick pastas, muffins and croissants. Moreover, since it substitutes for maida, it is a healthy option any day.
• It can act as a thickening agent for soups and gravies instead of maida and replace wheat flour in Indian cooking.
• Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where it will keep for approximately two months.
• However, use within the expiry date stamped.Health Benefits
• Being high in fibre, oats porridge makes a very satiating breakfast.
• It is rich in soluble fibre, which helps lower blood LDL cholesterol, the so-called "Bad" cholesterol.
• Oats absorbs extra fat and flushes it out of the system. Hence, it helps cure constipation and regulates gastro-intestinal functions.
• A diet that is rich in oats may also help stabilise blood glucose levels, which could help people with non-insulin dependent diabetes.
• It aids to cope with ovarian and uterine problems associated largely with the onset of menopause in women.
• Depression and mood swings that ensue after menopause are relieved through a regular oat intake, because of its high protein and fibre content.
• Oat meal rejuvenates the endocrine system and enriches sexual pleasure because it matures the nerves.
• Oats has unique fatty acids and antioxidants, which together with vitamin E slow cell damage and have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.
• Oats is low in fat and salt while being a good source of natural iron.
• Being a good source of calcium, it helps healthy development of bones and teeth.
• Several types of baby foods contain oats, mainly in the form of whole oat flour. Oat flakes are also good for toddlers.