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Cooking with Karina: T-oat-ally Awesome

Karina Arnold
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Blueberry-Banana Oat Smoothie

Blueberry-Banana Oat Smoothie. (Photo: Karina Arnold)

Karina Arnold is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma who’s passionate about healthy cooking. She provides creative, healthy recipes and tips on clean eating.

Quick, easy and healthy, oats have become a staple food item in pantries. In addition to the different classifications, oats have versatile usage. I use oats often because they are a handy, fiber-rich carbohydrate to add to any meal. Fiber-rich food maintain satiety and prevent blood-sugar crashes. Here are the popular forms of oats and the differences between them:

Rolled Oats (Old Fashioned): Rolled oats come in two forms, old fashioned and instant. Old-fashioned oats stay fresh longer because they are steamed when processed. These oats are perfect to make my Flourless Pumpkin Muffins because the wide-oat kernel absorbs the juices from the blueberries so their flavor is not lost when baking in the oven.

Rolled Oats (Instant): Unlike old-fashioned, instant oats are thinner and flakier. They absorb liquid the fastest and are perfect for Overnight Oats. The thinner oat kernel easily soaks in the milk or yogurt in overnight oats without heat. The result is a more porridge texture. In contrast, using old-fashioned oats would result in a soggier and chewier consistency (which is not very appetizing). I also used instant oats in this delicious Blueberry-Banana Oat Smoothie. This smoothie is a perfect post-workout recovery because the carbs from the oats keep you full while the protein in the Greek yogurt repairs muscles.

Breakfast Taco Oatmeal BowlSteel Cut Oats: Sometimes called Irish oatmeal, steal cut oats are oats cut with a sharp, steel blade. This causes smaller oats groats or kernels, thus steel cut oats absorb water faster than rolled oats. These oats are less processed than rolled oats because they do not go through the steaming and rolling process. There is a debate regarding which oat type is more nutritious; however, I have found the benefits to be similar. I love using steel cut for more flavorful dishes. Want breakfast tacos but don’t have tortillas? Try this savory Breakfast Taco Oatmeal Bowl. The wide oat kernel acts like rice and perfectly maintains the flavor from the spices and oils.   

Depending on one’s preference, one can make a warm bowl of oatmeal with steel cut or any rolled oat. Each has a slightly different flavor, consistency and cook time. Experiment with flavors, toppings and type of oats. What are your favorite oats and oatmeal toppings? Comment below!

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