Groat-y to the Max

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Raise your hand if you’ve heard of oat groats…  Ok, if your hand is raised – virtual high five – you’re free to skip down to the recipe.  For those of you squirming in your seats, looking around to see who else didn’t raise their hands, worry not!  I’ll fill you in.

Oat groats are the mother of all oatmeal products, like literally.  All other forms of oatmeal come from the mighty oat groat.  The oat is harvested, the hull is removed, and voila – you have oat groats.  So if you’ve jumped on the non-processed-whole-foods bandwagon or even if you just have a pinterest board that entertains the thought of doing more whole food cooking, oat groats are where it’s at when it comes to oatmeal in it’s purest form.

The drawback?  They take a LONG time to cook.  You may have heard that steel cut oats take a long time to cook.  Well, steel cut oats are nothing more than oat groats that got chopped up so that they would cook faster.  Actually, each variation downward from there just involves a different kind of processing that allows for a shorter and shorter cooking time.  Here’s what the succession looks like:

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(pictured from left to right: quick cooking oats, rolled oats, steel cut oats, oat groats)

Oat Groats – hulls removed

Steel Cut Oats – oat groats chopped up into smaller pieces

Rolled Oats – oat groats are steamed and rolled flat

Quick Cooking Oats & Instant Oats – steamed and rolled more and more to achieve shorter and shorter cooking times

Here’s the thing.  All that processing to make oats a more convenient food totally ruins the original texture of the oat!  I used to try to make myself like oatmeal because I knew it was good for me, but I’d always get hung up on that glue-y, mushy texture.  Eventually, I just started undercooking my oatmeal to avoid it.  But when I heard that steel cut oatmeal could be made in a large batch and the leftovers didn’t turn into a brick of glue, I was intrigued.  We switched to steel cut oats and never looked back!  The texture is chewy and creamy and never gross – they even have a nuttier, more robust taste.  But then we moved overseas and I searched high and low for our beloved steel cut oats to no avail.  Finally, I stumbled upon oat groats!  And using the method below, they only take about 15 minutes longer than our favorite method for steel cut oats.

This recipe uses an overnight prep method that takes very little time or effort and means that in the morning, you just turn on the stove, add in one exciting ingredient, and breakfast is done in 15-20 minutes.

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Overnight Oat Groats with Quinoa

serves 3-4

a lil’ butter

1 cup oat groats

4 cups water

a dash of salt

1/2 cup quinoa*

flavorings/sweeteners of your choice (honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, sugar, bananas, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice… go crazy) to taste

The night before : Toss a lil’ butter in your pot with the groats.  Toast ’em up for a minute. (Toasting with butter is totally optional, but doesn’t it just sound delicious?)  Add water and salt.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.  Leave covered and turn off the stove. Go to bed.

The next morning : Say hello to your nearly finished groats and add the quinoa along with any sweeteners.  Turn the stove back on.  Let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes.  Water should be pretty much absorbed.  Pat yourself on the back.  Eat your groats.

*Why Quinoa?  Well, it’s a complete protein in and off itself so it seems like a nifty food to have in your pantry, but thus far – savory quinoa dishes just haven’t thrilled me.  One morning I’d promised the girls oatmeal before I realized I was almost out of steel cut oats – oops!  But we had quinoa on hand, so I figured I’d just toss some in to fill things out a bit and not only did it work, we all really liked it.  Quinoa has made a regular appearance with our oats ever since.

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