Oatmeal around the world

By Laura Schmidt RD, LD

Fun fact: Oatmeal is not just a boring breakfast cereal; it is so much more! In fact, oatmeal is used throughout the world in many other ways than just your typical rolled oats, milk, and sugar for breakfast.

Oats have been a staple in many countries for thousands of years. Oats are cheap to grow, process, transport and buy, and are packed with nutrients! The soluble fiber found in this grain contributes to lowering cholesterol, preventing high blood pressure, decreasing the risk of developing diabetes, and many more health benefits.

In the United States, we typically use old-fashioned oats, quick oats, or instant oats. All of these have been cut from the original whole-grain kernels called groats. The difference isn’t much except for texture and cooking time. These types of oats make a great breakfast cereal and overnight oatmeal recipes. Both types of recipes can be found at hy-vee.com. But remember you don’t have to enjoy oatmeal just for breakfast. Your grandmother may have used oatmeal in her famous meat loaf to hold the recipe ingredients together, and your mom probably makes the best apple crisp dessert using oats.

Steel-cut oats are often called Scottish or Irish oatmeal. These kernels are not cut but instead are crushed and ground, creating small broken grain pieces. Steel-cut oats are often prepared in Scotland and Ireland by boiling for a long period of time with milk or water.

In Colombia, Avena Colombiana is a creamy and rich oatmeal-based drink made with old-fashioned oatmeal, milk, cinnamon, and sugar.

Switzerland makes muesli using oats, other grains, nuts, and seeds, and adds fresh or dried fruit for a nutritious hot or cold cereal.

Unexpected places you will find oats are in your ice cream, cosmetic products, and beer. Remember the groats we discussed earlier? The hull, which is inedible, of the whole oat kernel, is used at Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids, Ia., to provide energy to the University of Iowa. These hulls reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70,000 tons a year, which is equal to taking 1,200 cars off the road!

Try this savory Indian-inspired oatmeal dish at home!

Savory Curry Cashew Oatmeal

Serves 1

All you need:

1 cup water

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

3 tbsp golden raisins

2 tbsp toasted chopped cashews

1/4 tsp curry powder

All you do:

1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in oats, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Top with raisins, cashews and curry powder.

Overnight oats variation: Combine 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats with 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt in a jar or bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add toppings, as desired. Eat cold or heat up. Makes about 1 cup.

Steel-cut oats variation: Bring 1 cup water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1/3 cup steel-cut oats, reduce heat to a bare simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 2 to 3 minutes. Add toppings. Makes about 3/4 cup.

People with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity should use oats that are labeled “gluten-free,” as oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat and barley.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 332 calories, 11g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 55g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 18g sugars, 9g protein.

Daily values: 43% iron.

Source: adapted