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Oats are available for purchase in many different forms. How do you know which type is right for you, and how do you cook oatmeal in a way that it’s easy to digest and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy?
Most people prefer a quick cooking oat so that a hot breakfast can be ready 15 minutes or less. This is totally doable, and there are ways to maximize the health benefits within this time frame.
What you don’t want to be doing is undercooking your oats, and making it difficult for your body to digest. It’s too easy to make this mistake when it comes to oatmeal. You could be robbing your body of the healing benefits without realizing it.
In this post, I am going to teach you how to make oatmeal using readily available rolled oats in a way that supports optimal gut health.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, oats are considered very easy to digest. You might also feel this yourself. They are also heavy and grounding, with an overall sweet taste.
Oats are best for Vata and Pitta types, as least supportive for Kapha due to the heavy quality.
For anyone with digestive weakness, oats help to reduce gas and bloating.
For anyone with nervous system stress, oats are going to be soothing, balancing, and even sedative.
Due to a gooey quality that comes from soluble fiber, oats relieve burning and soothe the digestive tract, especially when they are cooked properly.
The whole form of oats are known as oat groats. These guys take around 45 minutes to cook, and result in a chewy oatmeal, so they aren’t as practical.
All other versions of oats are processed from oat groats.
Steel-cut or Irish oats: The first method of processing uses steel blades to cut the whole oat groats into smaller pieces so they cook faster. This type of oatmeal can be made in 20 minutes.
Scottish oats: The second method cuts the whole oat groats with a stone grinding mill, which is what Scottish oats are. Scottish oats give you a nice and creamy oatmeal with 10 minutes of cooking. I love Scottish oats!
Rolled or old-fashioned oats: Rolled oats are made from steamed oat groats that have been flattened with a roller. They are the most readily available and affordable, but there is a significant loss in vitality when the oats are pre-cooked.
However, since they are pre-cooked, rolled oats result in a faster oatmeal. It take about 5 minutes, but most recipes make the oatmeal too thick, and with this short time frame the resulting oatmeal is sticky, gooey, or even leathery.
My method for cooking rolled outs below adds a few minutes to the cooking time, and results in a smooth and highly digestible oatmeal.
Quick cooking oats: These are made like rolled oats, but they are rolled thinner. They cook the fastest of all – like in 2 minutes. Same problem with the lack of vitality.
Instant oats: This is the type that you get in instant oatmeal packages. All you need to do is pour over hot water to make them edible, but they taste a little like sawdust if you think about it.
My method for gut-health oatmeal
As you just learned, rolled oats are pre-cooked and more heavily processed than steel-cut or Scottish oats. I do recommend steel-cut or Scottish oats as the perfect compromise between whole oat groats and the pre-cooked oats.
However, these can be costly, and rolled oats are more readily available, so I would like to share my method for turning rolled or old-fashioned oats into the healthiest oatmeal possible.
Of the pre-cooked oat types, definitely avoid quick cooking and instant. Use the rolled oats.
Then, the first thing you want to do is process or grind your oats into a very course flour. They will look more like instant oats now.
Next, use 3/4 cup water to 1/4 cup oats. This will make a small portion. You can double it if you want. If you prefer your oatmeal with milk, use some milk in addition to the water.
Add water, oats, a spoon of ghee (or butter) and a pinch of salt to your saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt, and if you like, add a little cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, or clove. The spices add a bit to warmth to aid in digestion.
You can also cook in some fruit, such as apple, pear, blueberries, or banana. The fruit will bring in the sour taste, which also aids in digestion by releasing fluids into the digestive tract.
Turn off the heat, and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes.
Now you have a well cooked, highly demulcent, and soothing oatmeal to support your gut health. Even the most sensitive tummy will receive it with gratitude.
How to Cook Oatmeal for Gut Health
- Small saucepan – 1.75 qt.
- 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats coarsely ground (see notes)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon ghee or butter
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cup milk (replace 1/4 cup of the water)
- 1/3 cup fruit, such as apple, pear, blueberries, bananas
- pinches cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom
For the basic oatmeal
- Process or grind your oats into a very course flour using a food processor, blender, or mini chopper-grinder. They will look more like instant oats now.
- Add water and oats, along with a teaspoon of ghee and a pinch of salt, to a saucepan, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes.
For the optional ingredients
- Add a pinch or two of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, or clove to the boiling oats. You could also cook in 1/2 cup fruit, such as apple, pear, blueberries, or strawberries.
- Turn off the heat, and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!