Botanical Name: Avena sativa
Origin: Canada / USA
Production: the raw oat groat is separated from its outer hull by centrifugal acceleration and winnowing. It is then steamed in preparation for rolling into flakes of varying thickness, and finally, kiln dried to enhance flavor and reduce moisture levels to assure long shelf life.
Oats are believed to be first cultivated in the Middle East around 3000 years ago and subsequently spread to more Northern climates, becoming a popular food staple throughout Europe. In the 17th century, British settlers introduced oats to North America where they have been farmed ever since. Today, the oats are primarily bailed and sold as animal feed and secondarily used for culinary (whole groats, steel cut, flaked and milled into flour) as well as medicinal purposes (oat straw and oat tops)
Qualities: oats are about 66% carbohydrates (including 11% dietary fiber and 4% beta-glucans), 7% lipids and 17% protein. Their high fiber content and especially the Beta-glucans (a type of soluble fiber) have shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Oats are also a very good source of the vitamin B complex and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Even though pure oat groats do not contain gluten, most oats are cultivated and processed in such a way that cross-pollination and cross-contamination with wheat are likely to occur.
Common use: regular rolled oats have a similar nutritional profile and glycemic index to steel cut oats, but have a more mild flavor and creamier texture. Both the exposure to steam during processing which partially cooks the rolled oats and the increase in surface area, reduce the cooking time to about 10 min on the stove top, or 3-5 min. in the microwave. It makes the classic, warming, and nourishing hot breakfast cereal (aka oatmeal or porridge) enjoyed on winter mornings, but is also often also found in baked goods such as cookies and muffins, or as a base ingredient in granolas and mueslis.
Gaining in popularity lately is cold "overnight oats", created by simply soaking equal parts rolled oats in any kind of liquid (water, milk, juice, tea, etc) for a few hours or overnight refrigerated until liquids are absorbed. These softened oats are then like a blank canvas for your culinary imagination reflected in your choice of either sweet or savory toppings and make for a nutritious and easy take-along meal.
Other uses: Add some oats into your DIY bath soaks for a soothing, skin loving bath or add into your facial scrubs for a gentle exfoliant.
Storage: keeps well in a sealed container in a cool
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