Oats have been a staple of human diets for more than 4000 years, whether they were eaten as porridge or used for making beer. That doesn’t mean we don’t still have questions about this humble grain, especially when taking into context modern methods of processing, packaging, and selling.
Raw oats are small kernels, similar to grains of rice in shape, size and general look. On the stalk, they’re protected by a hull. When this is removed, the oat grains themselves are cleaned and can be used as is. However, most commonly, they’re further processed to create ground or cut oats.
So what are ground oats? Ground oats are, not surprisingly, ground raw oats that are varied sizes and shapes. You can steam ground oats or use them in baking to make them easier to eat.
This article is going to address every question you’ve ever had about ground oats, and probably many more.
General Questions about Ground Oats
What are the most common oat cuts?
There are many stages to processing oats, and the most common are:
- Whole oat grains: these are the berries or kernels that come more or less directly out of the wheat husk, after being harvested.
- Steel-cut oats: to make the oats quicker to cook and a bit easier to digest, steel-cut oats are chopped into 2 or 3 pieces using very sharp, steel blades.
- Ground oats: also sometimes called “white oats,” “milled oats” and sometimes even “Scottish oatmeal”, these kernels have been stone-ground or milled instead of cut, leaving the pieces uneven and more varied. Depending on how long the oats are ground, you might end up with a creamy porridge or a powder.
- Rolled oats: when the hulled oat kernels get steamed, they can be flattened by being rolled. They are much quicker to cook this way, partly because they’ve already been steamed and partly because they are much thinner, taking less time to cook throughout.
- Oats that are rolled thinner and steamed longer are called quick rolled oats or instant oats
- Oat flour: when oats are ground into a powder, it is considered flour. A commercial processor might make oat flour directly from the whole grains, however, you can make oat flour using a standard food processed and rolled oats.
Are oats a grain?
Yes, oats are a grain. The most common edible grains are either cereal grains or legumes, though these days legumes are generally considered their own category. Cereal grains are the seeds from grasses such as wheat, oats, corn, barley, rice and a few others.
Are ground oats the same as oat flour?
Yes and no.
You can find oats that have been milled into chunks and called ground oats. This is quite popular in Scotland, which is why it’s often sold under the name “Scottish oatmeal.”
It’s not the most efficient way of processing, however, so they’re not very common. Oat flour is made from blending or processing oats or, as more commonly said, grinding them in a food processor. If you grind oats long enough, you’ll get oat flour.
If you’re following a porridge recipe, chances are that you’re looking for chunks of ground oats, whereas if you’re baking, the recipe is probably calling for oat flour.
What is the best oatmeal brand?
In the US, Quaker brand oats are the most popular, though brands like Bob’s Red Mill, Nature’s Path or 365 Everyday Value (all of which you can find on Amazon) are also very popular and arguably more concerned with quality, especially in terms of creating organic options with guarantees about production quality.
Ground Oats Nutrition
Are oats carbs?
Oats are carbohydrate-heavy, yes. As a whole grain, they’re also great sources of fiber, which is a type of carb, and have no sugar. They also have protein and a little bit of fat. In a 100 g serving of raw oats, you’ll find:
- 390 calories
- 7 g of fat
- 66 g of carbs, of which nearly 11 g is fiber
- 17 g of protein
Are oats fattening?
Oats themselves are generally thought to be a great addition to a well-balanced eating plan, actually helping you maintain a healthy weight and control hunger and appetite.
However, processed and conveniently packaged oatmeal products are not nearly as healthy. The oats are often coated with processed and refined sugars, additives, and other ingredients that can lead to weight gain and generally unhealthy eating habits.
If you’re trying to avoid gaining weight, opt for oats that are 100% oats and pay attention to portion sizes.
Are oats wheat or are they gluten-free?
Oats are not wheat and they are gluten-free grains. If you are celiac or gluten intolerant, ground oat flour can be a great way for you to enjoy baked goods that are traditionally made with wheat.
Unfortunately, oats are commonly processed in facilities that also process wheat products, so if your very sensitive, it’s important to look for the “gluten-free” label or a notation that says the oats are prepared in a gluten-free facility to avoid cross-contamination.
Is oat flour healthy?
Yes, oat flour is considered a very healthy flour option. It has more protein, fiber and nutrients than regular all-purpose flour, and is also lower in carbs and naturally gluten-free.
Ground oat flour has essentially all the same nutrition as whole grain oats, making it a good source of important minerals like manganese, copper, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
Can oats cause gas, bloating or constipation?
If you’re not used to fiber-rich foods and you start eating a hearty oatmeal every day, it can cause some digestive distress until your body gets accustomed to it.
If you’re not used to eating vegetables or whole grains, start with small portions and allow the bacteria in your gut time to adapt. You can also try digestive enzymes.
Ground oats for babies – are they safe?
Oats are often one of the first foods introduced to babies around the age of 6 months. To make your oats as safe as possible for your baby, choose organic and grind the oats to a fine powder to reduce any choking hazard. Just add water and whisk until smooth and naturally creamy.
Can you use ground oats for skincare?
Using oats in a natural skincare routine is a great way to reduce oil and maximize moisture. It’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power can help improve skin tone and even acne.
You can place some oats in a cheesecloth packet and add to a warm bath, or you can create a paste from ground oats to use as a mask.
Oats and Dieting
Are ground oats Keto?
No. Oats are nearly 70% carbs and a tiny serving would completely absorb your entire daily quota of carbs and probably more.
Are oats Paleo?
No, the Paleo diet doesn’t allow grains, and oats are certainly a grain.
Are oats Vegan?
Yes, oats are entirely plant-based and therefore vegan-friendly.
Are oats good for diabetics?
The soluble fiber present in oats has been found to help regulate glucose and insulin activity, so adding whole grain oat products to a well-balanced eating plan can help prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes.
In order for oats to be effective, however, you need to be conscious about what you’re eating with your oats. Adding sugar, milk, and other ingredients will instantly counteract any benefits the whole grain might have.
How to Use Ground Oats
Below are various ways you can use ground oats in your daily eating routine.
How do you make ground oat flour?
Making oat flour is as easy as adding your oats to a food mill and blending until a fine powder is achieved. Depending on the power of your processor, you might want to use rolled oats to save your blades.
However, if you have a high-end blender or food processor, using steel-cut or whole grain oats can retain a bit more nutrition since they haven’t been steamed at all.
How do you cook ground oats?
If you’re making Scottish Oatmeal, add your ground oats to boiling water at a ratio of ¼ cup oats to ¾ water per serving. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 10 minutes before serving with your favorite milk, spices, fruits, nuts or other toppings.
If you’re baking with ground oat flour as a substitution for regular all-purpose wheat flour, you might run into a bit of trouble. Oat flour is naturally gluten-free, which means it doesn’t have the elasticity and ability to rise that you’ll get with wheat flour.
Depending on your recipe, you may find you need to add more yeast or work with a stabilizer like Xanthan gum. You may also have to add more flour. If you’re new to baking, it’s best to stick to recipes that call specifically for oat flour.
How to make overnight oats with ground oats?
Most overnight oats recipes call for steel-cut oats, but that doesn’t mean you can make this easy breakfast dish with ground oats. Instead of getting a chewy mouthful, you’ll simply get a creamy, smoother breakfast dish.
If you’re using Scottish Oatmeal, you can make it according to any overnight oats recipe, using a 2:1 liquid to oats ratio, a pinch of salt, and your favorite toppings.
If you’d like to use ground oat flour, it’s best to add the filling in the morning. Before eating, give your oatmeal a good stir and you’ll find a consistency more similar to Cream of Wheat, which is delicious, smooth and creamy.
Can you eat ground oats raw?
Yes, you can. If you’re working with rolled oats, it’s going to be more palatable to soak them first, but ground oat flour can be mixed into milk and eaten (or drank, depending on how much milk) like cold porridge.