Since childhood we’ve heard stories telling us that we need to eat oats. But exactly why are oats so good for us? Well, oats are an important grain. Adding oats to our diet provides a wide range of health benefits.
First of all, oats are a great source of energy. One cup of cooked oats can give us at least 147 calories. They are packed with dietary fiber, which makes them easy to digest and also leaves us feeling full and satisfied for hours. Oats are a rich source of vitamin (B1), minerals (manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, magnesium) and proteins for cell growth and repair. They also have anti-cancer properties and help boost metabolism and maintain good immunity.
Different types of oats are available: whole oats, steel cut oats, Scottish oats, rolled, instant and others. But how do they differ and how can you choose the best variety for trail cooking? Here is a short guide on oat types, nutrition and cooking time.
1. Oat groats or whole oats are grains that are minimally processed. They’re very nutritious, but they’re chewy and need to be soaked and cooked for a long time (50-60 minutes).
Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 130 calories, 3g fat, 31g carbs, 5g fiber, 8g protein.
2. Steel cut oats, also known as Irish oats, are just groats that have been cut into smaller pieces. This type of oatmeal is very low on the glycemic index. It allows the blood sugar to rise slowly and keeps us feeling satisfied for longer periods of time.
Cooking time: 45 minutes.
Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 170 calories, 3g fat, 29g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g protein.
3. Scottish oatmeal is another version of groats that have been stone ground into bits instead of cutting. Milled to a medium grade, it makes a superb smooth porridge.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.
Nutrition per 1/4 cup: 140 calories, 2.5g fat, 23g carbs, 4g fiber, 6g protein.
4. Rolled oats (also known as old-fashioned) are whole groats that are made by steaming, rolling and drying. They take about 10 minutes to cook into oatmeal, but they can also be added raw to recipes.
Nutrition per 1/2 cup dry: 190 calories, 3.5g fat, 32g carbs, 5g fiber, 1g sugars, 7g protein.
5. Quick or Instant oats are the most popular type of oatmeal for backpackers. Due to extra processing they require less cooking time. However, additional steaming and pressing makes them place high on the glycemic index. That means that blood sugar can rise quickly and then drop back down suddenly, making feel us hungry shortly after eating a bowl of instant oatmeal.
Stay away from store-bought packets of instant oats, and instead try to make your own. They’ll taste better and will not contain as much sugar. Check out our blog post to discover 5 creative oatmeal variations.
Cooking time: 1 minute.
Nutrition per 1/3 cup dry, plain: 120 calories, 2g fat, 21g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g sugars, 5g protein.
6. Oat flour is made by pulverizing groats and can be used for trail baking, or for thickening soups and stews.
Nutrition per 1/3 cup: 160 calories, 3g fat, 26g carbs, 4g fiber, 7g protein.
7. Oat bran is a milled outer layer of the oat grain. Bran is often used in breakfast cereals or breads to increase daily intake of dietary fiber.
Cooking time: 2 minutes.
Nutrition per 1/3 cup dry: 150 calories, 2g fat, 27g carbs, 7g fiber, 7g protein.
Trail cooking with oats
Most popular as a breakfast meal, oats can also be used in a variety of other backpacking recipes such as soups, stews, breads or desserts. There are some recipes with oats you may want to try:
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