Week 14: Oats
25 lbs of Oats
After this week, you should have 25 lbs stored. The program goal is 40 lbs. We will address Oats 1 more time (in week 39).
There are two main types of oats: Rolled and Steel-Cut. Both types begin as whole oats, also known as groats. Groats are simply the result of harvesting oats, cleaning them, and removing the hull (their outer layer) leaving the fiber-rich bran, the endosperm, and the germ, which is home to vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and healthy oils. From there, the oats are either rolled or steel-cut. Either way, their impressive nutritional impact is essentially the same.
Rolled vs Steel-cut:
Rolled Oats- To make rolled oats, the whole grains are steamed and pressed flat with steel rollers (hence rolled). The rolling process shortens the cooking time. You'll find three kinds of rolled oats at the supermarket.
Old-Fashioned (regular) Oats- With these oats, the whole grains are steamed, flattened by the roller, and then flaked. They take longer to cook than the quick-cooking oats, but they retain more flavor and nutrition. This is what most people call to mind when they think of oatmeal. Of the three types of rolled oats, old-fashioned oats have the most texture.
Quick-Cooking (quick) Oats- These oats are cooked, dried, cut, and then rolled thin (thinner than old-fashioned oats) for faster cooking. Since there is more processing taking place, there nutritional content is slightly less.
Instant Oats- The oats are cooked and dried before being cut and rolled thin. Instant, being quicker than the “quick-cooking” variety, are the fastest oats of all, though they can sometimes be gummy or mushy. These are the “just add hot water” or microwave type of oat cereals and are not at all suited for a long-term food storage program. They do, however, have uses in “bug out” and 72-hour kits for short term crises. Generally, the more you process food, the less nutritious it becomes. So make sure you read the label of the instant oats, as they can be less healthy than other types of rolled oats if sugars, salt, and other ingredients are added to the mix.
Steel-Cut Oats- Sometimes called Irish oats or Scottish oats, steel-cut oats aren't rolled at all. Instead, steel blades (hence steel-cut) slice them into coarse nubs, giving them an appearance like cut-up grains of rice. Steel-cut oats are less processed than rolled oats, take longer to cook than rolled oats, and their texture is a bit chewier. While great as a hot cereal, steel-cut oats are also good candidates for cooking in stews and soups as they absorb less water than rolled oats. Some people even add them to meatloaves and stuffings.
Steel-cut oats take up to 20 minutes to cook, depending on how chewy you like them. Regular rolled oats take about 10-15 minutes to cook. Quick rolled oats, being thinner, cook much quicker, at about 2-3 minutes. And instant rolled oats, which have already been cooked then dehydrated, just need hot water. As instant rolled oats are the least nutritious, you should think twice about using them in your every day cooking habits. Instead, consider using the slower cooking quick oats or even steel-cut oats. Instant oats, however, certainly have their place, such as on camping trips and in your 72-hour kits.
Once opened, store your oats in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Freezing them in a moisture-proof container will get you up to a couple of years of storage. If bought in traditional grocery store packaging, it’s best to keep an eye on the expiration dates and definitely rotate them out. If they have been properly stored in #10 cans for long-term storage, they should be good for up to 30 years, again, if stored in a cool, dry place. For those of you that store the instant oatmeal packets in your 72-hour kits, make sure you rotate them periodically, like every 6 months. They definitely don’t last as long.
Oats' main claim to fame is soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and with helping to lower blood cholesterol, particularly the LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Oat fiber may have additional benefits, such as helping to control blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, and even lower blood pressure. Oats, like other grains and vegetables, contain hundreds of phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Many phytochemicals are thought to reduce a person’s risk of getting cancer. Also, for you macro counters out there, oats have twice the protein as brown rice.
Oats, like other cereal grains, are valued primarily as a source of (complex) carbohydrates. This does two things for us. First, they provide calories for energy needs. Oats have been shown in scientific studies to favorably alter metabolism and enhance performance when ingested 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise of moderate intensity. Basically, they are a great pre-workout meal. They also keep you feeling full longer. As the soluble fiber of oats is digested, it forms a gel, which causes the viscosity of the contents of the stomach and small intestine to be increased. This gel delays stomach emptying making you feel full longer, which also helps with weight loss; the longer you feel full, the longer you are going to go before your next meal.
The fiber also helps keep you regular, which is a plus, but be careful about an abrupt diet change if you have not been regularly consume oats (or wheat for that matter). This is most common when people store high-fiber foods, but do not regularly consume them, until after an emergency when they are forced to transition abruptly. Most certainly, this transition period will come with some discomfort at first. The moral of the story is: Eat what you store and store what you eat.