Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just what the HECK are STEEL CUT OATS?

This morning it was cold, overcast and damp.  MY FAVORITE kind of weather!

Perfect weather for oatmeal...but not just any oatmeal.  Hearty, creamy steel cut oats. yummm 

Sadly, I realized this weather is going to go away very quickly leaving only hot, dry, scorching days.  The thought of warm comforting oatmeal in the morning will be a thing of the past, replaced by Cold melons, cold cereals, yogurt and the like.

Then another thought popped in my head. Warm fruit compote like my grandma used to make!!  She would cook dried fruits (prunes, apricots, raisins, cranberries or cherries) with fresh chopped apples, a little water and some sugar.  Sometimes she would add roasted nuts as well.  The result?  Super yummy warm or cold, cobbler worthy fruit.  I've made it often through the winters of my adulthood and still love it the same as when she made it.   I eat it plain, serve it over cottage cheese, ice cream or angel food cake.  Yummy, comforting and fairly healthy.

Now, Let's talk about those steel cut oats.  If you have never had them then trust me.  You don't know what you are missing.  VERY different than a bowl of oatmeal with rolled oats.  Almost like eating a rice dish!!

So what the heck are they???   Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled.   They are golden in color and look like rice.  Steel-cut oats are also known as coarse-cut oats, pinhead oats, or Irish oats. This form of oats takes longer to prepare than instant or rolled oats due to its minimal processing.  Steel-cut oats also have a lower glycemic index than instant oatmeal (42 vs. 66, respectively), causing a lower spike in insulin levels when consumed.  The flavor of the cooked oats is nuttier than other types of oats and are blissfully chewy.

Uncooked, they look like this:

I love them.  They become kind of creamy, chewy and very filling.  Almost like breakfast risotto! Oatmeal, using these oats, are satisfying in a way that other oatmeal only WISHES it could be and sadly isn't.   Because of the extended cooking time, it's perfect for my little thoughts of cooked fruit compote! I threw things together quickly, but wrote down what I did so I can share it with you!  

This recipe makes enough for 2 servings (about a cup each) and is very filling.  For those of you who are weight watchers, the recipe builder calculates it at 6 PP, excluding the milk.

I hope you try this super healthy, satisfying breakfast....ENJOY!

Steel Cut Oat Compote

1-3/4 water
1/3  cup steel cut oats
1/3-1/2 fresh apple, diced (skin on) any type
2 apricot halves, diced
4 prunes chopped up
Artificial Sweetener  packet
2 tablespoons or so blueberries (or any other fresh fruit of choice), divided
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, divided
½ cup fat free milk, divided (optional)

Boil water in small pot.  Add oats, stirring quickly.  Bring back to a boil and add Apples, prunes and apricots.  Cover and let simmer until oats are cooking but  aldente.  (that means there is a slight firmness/chewiness to them) about 20  minuets or so (taste for doneness) – turn off fire and let sit for 2 minutes.  Add 1 packet of sweetener (or more to taste)
Top with Blueberries or other fruit (bananas, strawberries, more apples, raspberries….well, you get it!!) and a tablespoon full of brown sugar and the milk, if using.

The result?  A sophisticated, texturally pleasing oatmeal with the goodness of old fashioned fruit compote!

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

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