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  • Are rolled oats raw?

    "Wheat and rice belong to the grass family, which also includes rye, oats, barley, sorghum, sugar cane, corn, bamboo, pampas grass, and the grass in your yard. Quinoa and buckwheat are not grasses. People ate only small amounts of it until 9-12,000 years ago."

    I'm pretty sure cultivation roughly commenced as the ice receded and stable temperate zones emerged: "Fertile Crescent" etc. 

    Extreme weather impacting crop yields may the spark a decline and eventual collapse of civilisation.

    Oats and other grains (or grass seeds) - are largely indigestible in their raw state. 

    "The difference between oat varieties all comes down to how much the original 'groat' has been processed. This in turn affects their taste, texture and cooking times," Debenham told HuffPost Australia.

    All oats start off as oat groats, which are the whole, unbroken grains. Typically, they are then roasted at a low temperature before being processed into other varieties of oats.

    Steel-cut oats
    "These oats are closest to their original grain form. They are made when the whole groat is cut into several pieces with a steel blade (it looks similar to rice that's been cut into pieces)," Parker said.

    "This variety takes the longest to cook (around 30 minutes) and has a nuttier taste and a chewy texture."

    The easiest way to make creamy steel-cut oats? Bring one part oats to three parts liquid to the boil, cover the pot with a lid, turn off the heat and leave to sit overnight. Your oats will be ready in the morning.
    Kathleen Brennan

    Steel-cut oats are nuttier and have more bite compared to quick and rolled oats. 

    Rolled oats
    "These are whole oats that are first steamed to make them soft and pliable, and then rolled to flatten them to a specific thickness," Parker said.

    "This additional processing means they cook faster (in around 2-5 minutes). Rolled oats tend to retain their shape when cooked."

    Instant/quick oats
    "These are the most processed of the three oat varieties. They are partially cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed thinner than rolled oats to allow the oats to cook more quickly," Debenham said.

    "They often have skim milk powder, emulsifiers and other preservatives added to help them develop a creamy texture when you cook them. They have a more mushy texture, as they retain less of their shape when cooked."

    Which oat variety is the healthiest?
    While oats themselves are healthy, there are some more nutritious options that keep us fuller for longer.

    "While all three varieties have undergone a different level of processing, resulting in various cooking times, tastes and textures, they are all nutritious options," Parker said.

    "They are all derived from whole oat groats, giving them similar nutritional profiles. The few nutritional differences lie in the GI, fibre content and added ingredients."

    Steel-cut and rolled oats have more fibre -- due to the minimal processing, most of the fibre has been retained in steel and rolled oats. This means they will keep you feeling fuller for longer, which can assist with weight management. Quick/instant oats have been further processed, which means they have a slightly reduced fibre content.

    Steel-cut and rolled oats have a lower GI -- this means they have a slower release of sugar (from carbohydrates) into your blood. This give you a slow release of energy throughout the morning and keeps you fuller for longer. As opposed to more processed oats, which can provide a quicker burst of energy.

    Steel-cut and rolled oats have less added sugars -- we often find that instant/quick oats have added flavours (especially the gourmet sachets). It's important to keep an eye out for added sugars (check for flavours like honey or apple and cinnamon and beware of dried fruits).
    "Our recommendation is to choose traditional rolled oats or steel cut oats (if you have the time) as these are the least processed," Debenham explained.

    "Naturally sweeten your oats yourself by adding fresh or frozen berries, banana, pear or apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some crushed nuts. For those who need some more sweetness, or who find it difficult to encourage your kids to eat oats, you can enjoy with a small teaspoon of honey."

    The bottom line when it comes to oats is: whatever way you cut them, high-quality oats are a healthy food.

    "The key to which is the healthiest option comes down to the degree of processing. The less processed the oat, the lower the glycemic index as your body has to do the mechanical work of processing it (as opposed to the machine doing this). The coarser the oat, the more nutrition they contain and hence the better they are for us," Parker said.