Meal of Steel: Steel cut oats

Oats is one of those foodstuffs that is overlooked and unappreciated that it could be considered underrated. Most know it as being good for you and as a start to the day, but for many it’s not appreciated or revered as much as it should be. I’m part of the smaller group that eat it gleefully. I thoroughly love the stuff. It’s versatile – oatmeal is part of the four pillars of cookie awesomeness, it’s also commonly used as a topping for cobblers. But its best and most simple use is as oatmeal, providing the most latitude for food greatness and creativity.

Sure you’ve probably eaten rolled oats (think Quaker), but if you haven’t dabbled into the world of steel cut oats, I’d highly suggest doing so. It’s not that regular rolled oats are bad, they just don’t quite have the joie de vivre of steel cut oats. Why? Well, rolled oats require a bit more processing than steel cut oats and they don’t have the depth of flavor or texture (crunchy) that steel cut oats are renowned for. In particular, McCann’s is the Quaker of steel cut oats. Steel cut oats are created from the inner portion of the oat kernel – their name comes from the steel discs that cuts these portions into smaller parts. So this minimal overwork creates oatmeal bliss in your bowl.

I always shied away from steel cut oats because of the long prep time compared to rolled oats. But I found this really easy recipe where you combine boiling water and oats the night before – warm it up in the morning and you’re good to go! Don’t sweat that it’ll be left out for so long, you’ll be fine, your heart and your tastebuds will appreciate it over whatever else you’ve been eating in the morning. Steel-cut oats are inherently full of nutritional value and are high in B-Vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber while low in salt and unsaturated fat.

What to do with your steel cut oats when you’re ready to eat? Serious Eats asked that very question and you’ll find all sorts of interesting ideas. The general consensus is some sort of combination of brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup. I also like to add Craisins to the mix. Bump up the fiber and clean yourself out by adding Benefiber and flaxseeds if you like. Basically the choice is yours on what you’d like to add.

If you haven’t already given steel cut oats a try. The texture and flavor rival oatmeal and the health benefits make it that much more worthwhile. Plus they have all sorts of fun names like Irish oats and pinhead oats.