Oat groats are oats that have had the hull of the whole grain only partially removed. This leaves a coarse grain of oat that is prized for its nutritional value and high amount of natural fiber. However, oat groats take longer to prepare than other breakfast cereals. This tasty and popular grain can be found in the bulk food section of your supermarket or health food store.
Wild oats became domesticated oats somewhere in the fertile crescent of Asia Minor, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. Wheat and barley were cultivated much earlier, for oats seem to have developed mainly as feed for cattle and horses. The Latin name for domesticated oats is Avena sativa and today this food product is grown in temperate regions around much of the Northern hemisphere. Traditionally, oats have been raised as feed for livestock, but the versatile grain has seen a comeback at the breakfast table because of its high-fiber content and nutritional value.
Oat groats are sometimes referred to as "cleaned oats" or "whole oats" because only the outer hull has been removed during the milling process. Oat groats store well and can be used to make a breakfast porridge or "gruel" by soaking overnight and then washing and boiling the oat product.
Nutritional and Health Value
Since oat groats still contain the bran layer of the grain kernel, they have a high fiber content and still contain many nutrients. Oat groats are particularly high in potassium and they contain some calcium, as well. They are also a good source of protein and B vitamins. Oat groats help lower the amount of blood-serum cholesterol because they contain a large amount of soluble fiber, which will slow down the absorption of glucose in your body.
Cooking Oat Groats
Oat groats need to be soaked several times with a change of water between each soaking, so they can be effectively used as a food source. The most common dish for oat groats is porridge or breakfast gruel, as it is sometimes called. Oat gruel is nothing but oat groats, or whole oats, cooked in boiling water after soaking. Oat groats cook in a very similar manner to rice. Spices, flavoring and the addition of a dairy product can help make this hearty, breakfast staple a tasty and nutritional breakfast dish.
Products From Oat Groats
Oat groats can be further processed to yield rolled oats, steel-cut oats, oat bran or oat flour. These processes do decrease the shelf-life, fiber content and nutritional value of the oat product, while at the same time adding to the ease with which they can be used in cooking. Rolled oats and steel-cut oats are used to make what is called old-fashioned oatmeal, while oat flour goes into many a baking recipe. Oat bran is a nutritional product that is high in fiber and can be added to milkshakes, smoothies and other similar drinks.