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Making Perfect Porridge: Oats, Groats, and Goldilocks!
Are you a fan of porridge for breakfast ( or as a snack any old any time)? Do you want to know how to make the perfect bowl of oaty goodness? Or perhaps lately you’ve just been reading up on the potential health benefits and excellent nutritional qualities of oats, latin name avena sativa?
Making Perfect Porridge!
Either way, if the perfect bowl of oat porridge is the end goal you have in sight, then the final answer to your troubles may be more complex than you initially think. First of all, you need to define what makes a truly great bowl of porridge for you (and if you're not in the habit of eating the stuff, that may involve an awful lot of experimentation and time to get to the point of being able to define it.) Seriously, what criteria do you have in mind when you visualise a bowl of oat gruel that's really appetising to you (rather than resembling warm wallpaper paste, perhaps).
The end results will be determined in large part by the ingredients you start out with (as well as your cooking utensils, your chosen method, e.g. hob or microwave, and your culinary skills). The oat grain – or groat – can be processed in a wide variety of ways, including as whole groats, thick 'porage' oats (for Scots style porridge), finer, more processed rolled oats, oatmeal (including fine or coarse steel-cut oatmeal), or instant oats of the quickie breakfast type. The type of oats you choose will factor into the end result: whether thick or thin, smooth or lumpy, heavy or light.
Are there any benefits that an oaty breakfast bowl can provide, in terms of your health, beauty, weight or medical requirements? Certainly oats have been put forward as a prime example of a beneficial food in terms of the 'glycemic index' or 'glycemic load' theories and measurements propounded in recent years. (These two measures are not the same thing: the glycaemic load takes the actual carbohydrate dose of an appropriate portion of food into account, while the glycaemic index does not.) Oats are also a rich source of soluble fiber, and a very filling food if you're looking to lose weight by filling up on less calorie-dense staples.
The nutritional quality of your bowl of oats will also be determined to some extent by what you add to it. That's whether it's salt, sugar, whole milk or skimmed, cream or yoghurt, soy or rice milk or dairy, fruit or jam or syrup... the list is endless!
Next time you're in the wholefood shop and thinking of picking up that packet of oats, think about all the benefits it might bring you!
1. Cutting, Dr. D. 'Dump your toxic waist! Lose inches, beat diabetes and stop that heart attack!' London; Class Publishing, 2004.
2. Silvertown, J.W., Whitesides, A. 'An orchard invisible: a natural history of seeds.' Chicago; The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., 2009.
3. Regand, A., Tosh, S.M., Wolever, T.M.S., Wood, P.J. ' Physicochemical Properties of β-Glucan in Differently Processed Oat Foods Influence Glycemic Response.' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2009; 57 :19, pp. 8831–8838