Does Instant Gratification Come At A Cost?

The rain was lashing the windows. It was 8am, the lights were on and the sky was dark.  It was the kind of morning where you shuffle around in your slippers til noon and postpone putting on your day-time clothes until you have to.

As my oatmeal bubbled, I picked up the tin of John McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal :

Chicago, 1893, World’s Columbian Exhibition* (aka The World’s Fair) Certificate of Award (which on a prestige spectrum, I suppose falls somewhere between a certificate and an award), for “Uniformity of Granulation”.

This must have been one of the more tedious categories to judge and made me realize how seriously the craft of oat cutting was taken in 1893.

It also leads one to assume that these award-winning pellets (which are strikingly similar to the pellets we used to feed our hamsters),that take a half hour to cook, must be better for you than faster cooking traditional “rolled oats” and certainly better for you than the snowflake thin, ready-when-you-are, “instant” variety.  Surely the 30 minute investment, pays off in greater life-extending benefits, benefits renounced by those choosing instant.

Actually not entirely (or mostly not entirely).

The oats in all oatmeal are whole grain oats. Steel cut oats are whole oats (groats**) that have been cut. Rolled oats are groats that have been steamed and rolled. Instant rolled oats are groats that have been steamed, rolled and reduced to wispy flakes.

Nutritionally speaking, all oatmeal has about 4 grams of protein per 1/2 cup dry (or 1/4 cup if steel cut since it’s heavier)*** and 4 grams of fiber. Even instant does.  The reason why you see oats making “heart health” claims (but you don’t see whole wheat cereal doing this), is because oats are much higher than other grains in soluble fiber (which is indigestible but absorbs liquid in your gut, forming a gel which binds to the bad (LDL) cholesterol, escorting it out, rather than allowing it to attach itself to the arteries of your heart).  They are also high in insoluble fiber (also indigestible, but absorbs no liquid and ferries food through the gut to keep intestines clear).  Wheat delivers only insoluble fiber.**

So the nutrition label says all oatmeal are more or less equal, but is there more to the story?  Rolled oats are not only squeezed through rollers but steamed; steel cut are robust and raw. But then again, though raw on arrival, steel cut don’t stay raw – you cook them. So perhaps it’s just a question of who’s at the steam controls – you or the processor.

Does the grueling ride through the rollers in some way, diminish them?  If it’s the bran (the outer layer of the groat) where much of the soluble fiber resides, then some of this must get destroyed and raise the rate in which it gets turned into glucose once you eat it. The labels won’t give you an entirely clear picture on this, but excessive processing does decrease fiber, speeding digestion and leading to a more rapid rise in blood sugar.

Instant’s biggest “problem”, though, may not even be the instant part, but the company it keeps. Most instant brands have high levels of sugar (Quaker’s instant has 9g per pouch), color, flavorings and oat flour (for extra creaminess).  If you want instant without the baggage, Whole Foods 365 makes a nothing-but-the-oats, instant oatmeal. (Or buy it in bulk.)

Anyway, nutrition aside, were steel cut reigns is taste. In choosing instant, you forgo the nutty, chewiness of historic oats, and lose the last tenuous connection with your horse and buggy ancestors.

In the end, the biggest reason, perhaps to choose steel cut, may have more to do with what’s on the outside of the oats  -  the tin.

Click here for my favorite way to eat oatmeal. I can’t really call it a recipe, it’s more like Instructions for Assembly.

Share your porridge stories!

Related Posts (these are some of the components of the oatmeal assembly)
Hemp:Hemp seeds: Better for you than flax seeds?
Coconut:Last time you had this nutrient was in breast milk.

*The World’s Fair was also called The Columbian Exhibition as it was a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World.
** Groat is actually the name for all grains in their whole form when the outer hull has been removed but the germ, bran, and endosperm are intact.
***It has higher protein than all other grains, except quinoa which is not really a grain. Here’s an excellent glossary on grains.

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  • Derek Lee

    Cook’s Illustrated did a taste test of steel cut oats a couple of years ago. The top rated one is the Bob’s Red Mill Organic Steel-Cut Oats. Unfortunately, the McCann’s didn’t fare very well in the taste test.

    Personally, we’ve been buying the organic steel-cut oats from the bulk bins at our local Whole Foods. They pass our personal taste test fine and also are great on the grocery budget :)

    • Michelle

      I am shattered! Really? I have been loyal to McCann’s forever! Perhaps they’re coasting on their tin. I will give Bob’s a try, and report back …

    • Heather

      I cheat – I put my bulk-bin organic steel-cut oats in my old McCann’s tin because it looks so cool :)

  • MommyLisa

    I just discovered using brown rice this summer with greek yogurt a bit of honey and berries. Yum.

    • Michelle

      I love that too!! I so often add cooked grains to yogurt that I find yogurt a little bland without them. I add sunflower seeds quite frequently, as well. I’m into texture…

  • 6512 and growing

    My friend once ordered a 20# bag of rolled oats, which was accidentally delivered as whole oat groats. She gave it to me and my “eat anything” husband. It took us 3 years to conquer that 20# bag, but we did.
    These days I like my oats rolled. Glad to hear the nutrition is comparable.

  • Sarah

    I love oats and usually eat some form of them for breakfast. I discovered last summer that one way to cut down the cooking time on steel cut oats is to soak them overnight (1/4 c. oats, 1/2 c. liquid). The next morning I would add a bit more liquid and microwave for 2-3 minutes. These days I’ve been experimenting with other grains for breakfast and I’m currently loving Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain Hot Cereal. Yum!

  • Annie

    Just learned a great way to cook steel-cut oats. The night before, prepare as directed (1 cup rinsed oats to 2 cups water – or whatever your favorite ratio is), bring water to a boil and cook oats for one minute. Turn off burner, put lid on pot and let sit until morning. When you wake up for breakfast chances are you will only have to cook the oats for about 5 minutes or so.

    • Heather

      Again, I cheat. I just pop my oats in my rice cooker with a little water the night before (or morning of, if I forget) and push a button. It comes out perfectly and should work well with those ceramic automatic rice cookers.

      • Jim

        The rice cooker method rocks! Ours has a porridge setting. We like equal parts steel cut oats, quinoa and kasha with a bit of ground flax stirred in with honey when it’s finished. The oil from the flax adds a buttery texture.

  • Natalie

    wow, this was such an informative and fun post to read. your writing is very engaging and compelling. usually i have a difficult time reading posts on blogs about the history of a particular ingredient or nutrition etc. etc. but i loved this so much and learned a bit as well!! thanks!

    • Michelle

      I’m so glad ! I know that I learn best when I am engaged and entertained, so that’s the way I like to write. I think most people retain stories better than facts.

  • Mandy

    I eat oatmeal every morning (the rolled variety) mixed with fruit, nuts, and cinnamon, but I only really like it cooked with milk instead of water. Has anyone ever made the steel cut oats with milk?

    • Chris

      I have and it takes them to a whole new level! I cook all my whole grain porridges (i.e. millet, kasha, quinoa, barley, oats)with milk and I find it also cuts back on the need for sweeteners because of the subtle sweetness and oh-so-creaminess the milk provides. Give it a try.

  • Steve

    Hey Michelle,

    Thanks for doing the homework. I think you hit the nail on the head. Either the processor starts the cooking process or the eater does. My question is, do the oats that have been “steamed” by the manufacturer have less nutrition because they have been sitting around oxidizing till the time they are actually eaten vs. cooking them right before they are consumed?

    Really appreciate your work!!!

    • Michelle

      That’s a really good point. My sense is the steaming is just enough to soften them so they can more easily be rolled. But they are not really cooked per se and so I doubt there is significant degradation after they leave the factory.

  • lynn @ the actors diet

    sadly i don’t have the patience for steel cut – but luckily i don’t really like them! rolled oats are my go-to breakfasts – i find that when you cook them with bananas it makes a very creamy bowl. i also add egg whites for extra protein and fluff.

    • Hannah

      There’s a fantastic restaurant in LA (Hugo’s) that makes a “frittata”/pancake with oats and eggwhites. Instead of syrup, they provide a pureed applesauce. Really delish and good for you!

  • Jill

    My gramma taught me to love oatmeal. She ate it with milk and butter. I loved it with brown sugar and raisons. We were up all night with her as she was dying in hospice. Finally, the nurse told us to take a break and go have breakfast. In a dumpy diner nearby, with Gramma on my mind, I ordered plain old oatmeal. I ate it with brown sugar like I enjoy, and milk like she did. We came back and she passed away within minutes of our return. I don’t know if the oatmeal was something cosmic or some kind of spiritual something or other…but that’s what your post made me think of. So thanks for kicking up a good memory of something my Gram and I shared. Boring ol’ oatmeal. :)

    • Michelle

      That is so lovely and so poignant. It was as if she saw you eating her favorite meal and knew that all was right with the world and she could go now. It’s who we share our food with that elevates even the humblest, to the most precious.

  • Belinda @zomppa

    Okay okay, got me sold! =) The tin is one darn good reason.

  • Cathy

    Just had my steel cut oats this morning! I got a rice cooker as a xmas gift from hubby (it was ok, I gave him a pressure cooker!) and just discovered (from online research, and a few trial runs) how to cook McCann’s in the rice cooker—just set it and leave it! The rice cooker even has an automatic “keep warm” setting so when it is done, it will keep the oatmeal warm and perfect for 12 hours…My rice cooker is one with “fuzzy logic” and basically you rinse the oats, and use a 2:1 ratio of water:oats–put in rice cooker, set on “porridge” mode and leave it…turns out perfect!

    • Heather

      oops, I wish I had read this before I posted. It’s true – it works perfectly and stays good for hours if you sleep in. It should work for non-fuzzy logic rice cookers too.

  • Stephanie

    So besides Sweet Beet, my main source of food knowledge/entertainment comes from Alton Brown and the show Good Eats. Years back the seminal episode Alton did about oats kicked me off instant oats forever, as he maintained that these were pre-cooked and flash-dried to the point where the soluble fiber was compromised and the nutrients just weren’t intact anymore. I believed him, and after a quick Google search found that he reiterates his point about instant oats again in a second oats episode (to to 1:51 for his explanation of the differences):

    I’m inclined to treat both the Sweet Beet and Alton with the same relative trust in expertise, so now I’m not sure who to trust! Can you explain your sources a bit more, how you arrived at this conclusion? Battle of the foodie experts …

    • Michelle

      I’m in agreement with Alton! (And thank you for the link.) He appears to be suggesting that “some” of the soluble is lost with instant (he does not claim all is lost) and I agree with him. When something is reduced in size and shoved through rollers, that cant NOT affect the food’s nutrients, especially in the oats case where the outer layer where much of the soluble fiber resides, is being affected.

      Bottom line (in my opinion) if you eat instant, you’re still getting some soluble fiber. Exactly how much is lost, is unclear. More importantly though, it tastes like mush! Spend 4 more minutes and go traditional.

  • Jacquelyn Hoag

    thanks for the reminder to restock and prepare steel cut oats…a friend dropped in last summer, spent the night, and made us breakfast out of her back pack….steel cut oats, with coconut milk and several kinds of dried fruit. She had made enough oats on her previous stop to put them in a jar and reheat for us.
    For oatmeal lovers….any and all leftover oatmeal make great muffins and coffee cakes.

  • Stephanie

    Second comment, unrelated to the first. One great advantage to rolled oats as opposed to pinhead/Irish oats is that they make great Bircher Muesli or Swiss Oatmeal, because they are set up to absorb the yogurt and milk more quickly. I ate this for breakfast happily for a full 8 months before burning out – but it was a good (and healthy) burn-out. Hell maybe I’ll try returning to my former breakfast love, give it another go …

  • Chris

    For those of us in Canada who don’t have access to Whole Foods, Sobeys sells a Compliments Organics instant oatmeal that is just oats without all the fillers found in Quaker Oats :)

  • jMack

    As a live-in housekeeper and breakfast cook, I learned from the father of the household to cook steel cut oats overnight in a double boiler, on the lowest heat, with a heat diffuser. Not energy efficient to be sure, but it was mind blowing. He also suggested eating it with a slug of buttermilk. Even more incredible. Which I guess is pretty close to using a rice cooker and yogurt. I wonder if a slow cooker would work? I have rolled oats every morning, raw (muesli) with yogurt and fruit. Once a week or so I go through the “trouble” of making steel cut oats. Especially if have some buttermilk on hand…

    • Michelle

      I had never thought about having buttermilk with my steel cut, but i LOVE the idea! I might even try cooking the oats in it … Can’t wait for Saturday!

  • Patricia

    McCann’s is the BEST oatmeal anywhere on the planet! I found a quick and easy way to cook it for those that like lots of fruit. I use a “fuzzy logic” rice cooker on the porridge setting and set my kitchen timer for 25 minutes–which is all it takes to cook as it is a sealed rice cooker that steams the contents as it cooks.

    I use 1/2 of a rice cup measurer of oatmeal, 3/4 of a regular liquid measuring cup of water, and 1/2 cup of either cranberry, or apple juice; then slice up a whole apple or pear, add some dried cranberries, goji berries or dried cherries, then 25 minutes later when the oatmeal is done, I add walnuts on top.

    The fruit juice is sweet enough not to need sugar or any other sweetener! It is truly like a very healthy dessert for breakfast!

  • Josh Austin

    A friend of mine introduced me to steel cut oats served with a sliced raw apple and some homemade granola. It needs nothing more.

  • Lynn

    You have not lived until you’ve eaten a bowl of Macroom Oatmeal. You can get it in the US through It is worth every cent it costs, even shipping. Of course, it tastes better eaten in Ireland, but we can’t have everything – at least, not all at once. Sláinte!

  • meezermom

    Yeah Oatmeal! We have a tradition at our house – we call it Oatmeal Friday.Every Friday morning we serve what we call ‘loaded oatmeal’ (Bob’s Red Mill steel cut or Scottish; with a variety of condiments: in season fresh fruit – berries in the summer, chopped apples in the winter; nuts – almond silvers, pecans, walnuts; dried fruit – craisins, raisins, dried cherries; and a large spoonful of dark molasses sugar. I like rice milk on mine, while my hubby likes his dry. Even after our daughter married and moved to her own home across town she still comes before work for Oatmeal Friday.
    Thanks for all the great new tips for serving oatmeal! I’m excited to try some of them next Friday.

  • The Table of Promise

    Actually, another important thing to consider is glycemic index. Because instant oatmeal has so much additional surface area, the body’s ability to absorb it is much greater. Thus the body has a higher blood sugar reaction to an instant oat than a steel cut oat. It is much the same difference between whole grain wheat flour and say, whole wheatberries.

    This is big reason I do believe that steel cut oats are in fact healthier than instant.

    Also you didn’t mention the overall anti-inflammatory properties of oats. I recently had an itchy rash after a bad virus. I bathed in an oatmeal bath and the itching subsided nicely. I love oats.

    • Michelle

      This is a really interesting point you raise (the glycemic one). However, I’m not sure I agree. If one didn’t chew their steel cut oats, then I has see this argument, but the chewing process breaks the oats up, adds more surface and makes it easier to digest and be absorbed? In other words, the chewing does what’s already been started FOR us with instant.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of instant (I think they taste like baby pablum and do think some of the fiber is compromised in the steaming and flattening), but I’m just not sure that from a glycemic standpoint that the surface area arguments is totally valid.

      Anyone else have thoughts on this?

      • The Table of Promise

        But you have to consider that you chew instant oats (in a way I guess) too. But even the most effective chewer isn’t reducing steel cut oats to a puree. I believe what the processing does to instant oats goes far beyond normal chewing. In chewing you might only hit half the grains and the rest would just get mixed in with the rest. (eeewwwww. sorry for that image)

        I found it difficult to find a true Glycemic Index in chart form that had any detail on the internet. When I searched I found mostly bloggers listing out foods that they considered to be “good” or lower GI. However there is one interesting website out there that had something to say about it. They say there is an 8 point difference between steel cul oats and old fashioned oats, but they don’t say anything about instant. My gut feeling is that instant are probably even higher on the GI scale because they are moving more towards flour. And think about it, they take less time to soak up water, imagine what they do in your stomach. Plus your point about some fiber being removed would have a big impact on the glycemic load. Instant oats definitely act differently when digested. Although nutritionally, aside from the fiber, there is probably not much difference.

        • The Table of Promise

          And also, it is a pain to make steel cut oats. But when I was breastfeeding I would make a big batch of oat groats and barley and cook it on the weekened. Then I would simply reheat a bowlfull on a busy weekend morning. It was perfect, and way easier. Oats and barley are great for supporting a healthy milk supply.

        • Michelle

          Thanks for your further analysis. I personally am a steel cut loyalist (and will forever remain!), but I think it’s important for people who DO eat instant, to know they are still getting much of the same nutrients (maybe not all but still a lot) and if it’s a question of eating instant oats versus instant Froot Loops, well ….

  • Carmen

    Hi Michelle!

    Thanks for the post! I am new in your blog and I starting to read some of your older posts. I enjoy all of them, and I love the fact that you always answer any questions readers might have. Thanks!!!

    I have every morning McCanns instant oatmeal (the maple and brown sugar) with a serving of fruit. I know you said is better to have the whole grains, but I really don’t have time to do it every morning.
    I sometimes feel the maple and brown sugar is sometimes too sweet, depending on the fruit I mix it with. You recommended the Whole Foods Brand, since I don’t have Whole Foods, do you recommend any other brand?

    Thanks and I appreciate your help!

    • Michelle

      I have to admit to not being a connoisseur of instant, but if you really want to stick with instant (and by the way,the instant you love is still a whole grain!) and it’s the simply the sweetness of your brand you don’t like, two suggestions: 1) many health food stores sell bulk instant oats, or 2) consider soaking the traditional thicker rolled oats overnight in the pan/dish you would cook them in and they will cook as quickly as instant the next morning!

      The other thing that McCann’s instant has which I”m not a fan of is flavors (yes, they are “natural” but flavor is flavor). To me “flavors” in an ingredient list is always a sign of lower quality ingredients and/or an admission by the manufacturer that they know this product will be on the shelf for a long period of time. (Added “flavors” are more shelf stable than the actual/real foods themselves, eg. blueberry flavor is more shelf stable than the actual blueberries themselves). A touch of your own brown or maple sugar is really all you need. I actually wrote about my thoughts on flavors here.

      They also add guar gum to their instant to give is more of a gluey texture, again not something that’s really necessary in instant oats or an ingredient that’s delivering any nutrition to you.

      Good luck !

    • Fraanco Johnson7

      no time? leftover oatmeal is as good as fresh made, does not spoil easily and save lots of time for those in rush. try my style with just butter, salt and pepper. grampa says it will ”stick to your ribs”.

    • Michelle Madden

      I never buy instant or brands with any sugar added so I can’t really recommend any of those.  Basically any “flavored” oatmeal” is going to have a lot of sugar, so if you’ve decided to go with instant, then I highly recommend getting the “plain” instant (no sugar added) and adding any sugar, fruit etc, to your own taste.

  • Edd

    I’ve enjoyed steel cut for years, ever since my first taste at Martha’s, a great breakfast/lunch place on the Strand in Hermosa Beach, CA. My favorite weekend prep is to soak overnight in almond milk (okay, juice; no such thing as almond/soy/rice “milk”) then stir over a burner for 20 minutes or so. Add cut apples, walnuts and cinnamon, then top with banana and greek yogurt. Depending on the mood we’ll toss in raisins, cranberries, blueberries or peaches.

    I also do steel cut at the office using Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats: 3/4 cup water in a 1.5 qt. bowl and microwave 3 min. Then add 1/4 cup oats and nuke another 3 min. Let set for a minute, then stir in cinnamon, blueberries (or whatever), walnuts, slice a banana and top with yogurt. I don’t even think about lunch ’til 2pm. Especially great if you’re the type who runs or works out first thing in the morning.

    • Michelle

      I know many people cook their oatmeal in milk, but I love the idea of letting the oats soak in milk (or as you rightly clarify in the case of nut milk, the “Juice”) … the delicate sweetness of the liquid has far longer to get infused into the oats. Will be trying this….

  • Agent Scully

    I am a huge fan of Country Choice Multi Grain Cereal (oats, barley, rye and wheat). Not sure what kind of oats are in there, but I have it every morning with a tablespoon of almond butter and a teaspoon of mixed berry jam. Yum!

  • CM Doran

    I agree that McCann’s is very good….especially in Ireland. However if you can’t be in Ireland, bring Ireland to you and see my Irish father-in-law eat oatmeal…he uses a “Papa-bowl”…basically a serving dish-sized bowl for his single serving of the old-fashioned rolled variety–every morning! Porridge to him, with sugar [pronounced shookra] and milk [bainne].

  • Tammy

    Wow. I loved this post, then was blown away by all the comments. Didn’t think so many people had opinions about this grain! We all eat oats in my house almost every morning. I like them cooked moist and creamy, my husband prefers them barely cooked and clumpy. Most of us just use a dash of cinnamon and some dried fruit – avoiding the white sugar that’s in everything else we eat. I never thought to try a rice cooker – I got a mini crock pot just for this and it stuck something awful to the sides, so now I just get up early to cook it. I’ve had McCann’s, but now will have to try the Bob’s. The problem is, we eat so much of it, it’s more economical just to buy the rolled oats in bulk.

    Thanks so much for a great, informative website!

    • Michelle

      You can actually buy steel cut in bulk too! My local Whole Foods sells them as do most health food stores.

  • Betsy

    Two words, Crock Pot! I cook steel cut oats in a mixture of water and milk in my crock pot overnight. They are ready when you wake-up. No waiting. This is the ratio I use. (Serves 4, I double it for my family of 5 with leftovers)
    1 Cup Steel Cut Oats
    2 Cups Water
    2 1/2 Cups Milk
    Every crock pot is different so you will have to play with yours to figure out the timing. I set mine for 5 hours on low. My crock pot automatically switches to warm and stays that way until morning.
    Give it a try, you will never wait for oatmeal again!

  • suzanne

    I’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast almost daily for all of my life. My mom got the 7 kids started in the ’60s with Quaker’s slow-cooking. We used to add a puddle of milk in the moat, and sprinkle on the sugar. I’m now a reformed oatmeal eater. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill multigrain cereals to which I add sliced almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, and dried, unsweetened cranberries with a dollop of Wildwood probiotic soy yogurt on top. Heavenly! And my parrot loves it too!

  • Ron Pierce

    I tried pin oats one morning and had so much gas that I placed myself under house arrest for 24 hours. No one would come near me. Needless to say, I tossed the rest of the package and went back to instant oats which by the by are very good with chunky peanut butter, raisins, and brown sugar.

  • tomas

    I don’t really like any cooked cereal, though I do eat it frequently. I’ve found that left-over steel cut oats makes an excellent thickener for stew.

  • Mary

    Grains require careful preparation because they contain a number of antinutrients that can cause serious health problems. Phytic acid, for example, is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. It is mostly found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
    Soaking and sprouting reduces anti-nutrients and helps you absorb the full benefit from grains.
    Soaking Ratio~ 1 cup grain:1 cup water w/ 1 T acidic liquid, lemon juice, buttermilk or whey. Soak overnight, rinse and prepare as usual in morning-only it cooks faster than normal.

  • Chris

    I used to shop for healthy instant oatmeal packets but finally just decided to buy rolled oats in bulk. They actually do fine in the microwave, I use 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1 cup water and microwave them for two minutes. My wife uses half this amount and half the cooking time.

    I’ll add flax seed and nothing else if I’m making it at work, at home I’ll often add cinnamon and sometimes cocoa powder.

  • barbara

    Last night i made a savory porridge – this might sound weird but it was a Steel Cut Oats and Brown Rice Chicken Congee – it ws DELICIOUS! the oats lend their nutty flavor and thick consistency well for this porridge-y soup.
    I sauteed some ginger, garlic and onion in a stock pot, then added chicken broth, and brought to a boil. then i added 1 part cooked steel cut oats and 1 part brown rice and reduced the heat, added some cooked chicken breast and let it simmer for a while. right at the end I scrambled two eggs and poured them into the soup,(kind of like egg drop soup) before i serve it and top with fresh shallots and a dash of soy sauce.

  • Joanne

    Barbara – that sounds delish! I’m gonna have to try that!

    I’m starting to eat steel cut oats and picked up a lot of great suggestions on preparation.

    Awesome blog! Thanks! :)

  • Aelia

    My favorite way to make steel-cut oats actually comes from the McCann’s website;

    Toast your oats in 1-2 tbsp butter (depending upon how much you are making) then add cinnamon and boiling water/milk. (I use a 50/50 blend of water and milk) Let it boil for 5 minutes, then cover and let it rest. In the morning, bring it back up to temperature, sugar to taste, and eat the heck out of it. (Nom nom nom.) I then refrigerate whatever I don’t eat immediately and have it for a snack or breakfast the next day.

  • Jen Norton

    I happened upon your blog a week or so after painting the John McCann oatmeal can itself . Love the stuff, and all the different ways people enjoy it. I’ll have to try some of the ideas here! I put a link to your oatmeal post in my blog…and if you’re inspired by the McCann can, visit my post at ( )

  • Karen – from

    Hi – I’ve ditched my daily 1/2 bagel with lox for oatmeal as my go-to-breakfast as part of my attempt to lower my cholesterol without Rx drugs. My rice cooker doesn’t have a ‘porridge’ setting though that made me giggle) – so I found a great recipe for a crockpot / slow cooker instead. And it’s Alton Brown, but different from the Alton Brown post above. Here’s a link.

    But need help! As I don’t love cranberries and figs, I ditched those and tried other things, but not great success. Dried blueberries made it look like I was eating oompa-loompa food. And I tossed in Trader Joes apple rings, but that ended up kind of mushy and somewhat chemical-tasting.

    Any ideas how I can modify this recipe for an apple kind of taste??

    Karen (from, & thx for the Twitter follow!)

    • Michelle

      I’m a big fan of fresh (not dried) apple and/or pear in oatmeal. Either add it in the last five minutes of cooking just to soften it a bit or chop it finely and add it once oatmeal is cooked.

      • Karen – from

        Thanks! I’ll try that. Though I’m a decent cook w/ veggies and dinner, I am just not fruit-girl so trying to add in fruit in new ways – esp breakfast. This sounds great. Thanks so much. -karen

    • Mary

      I recently tried a dollop of all natural apple butter (Bayfield brand). It was excellent.

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  • James

    What is the PH values of rolled oats VS steel cut? Also what is the acid production upon digestion?

    • Michelle Madden

      Not sure on this one … perhaps you can tell me a but more about your concerns behind the question? Are you concerned that steel cut is higher acidity than rolled oats and therefor harder to digest? Steel cut are less refined, so that does mean a bit more work for your intestines, but for most of us, this is a good thing!

  • long skirts

    I really believe you should not add any issues regarding this subject. Thank you a lot for a great story

  • Fraanco Johnson7

    why all the sweeteners with oats? ”oats n eggs” was a favorite. butter, salt and pepper all the. raised in a scots family, ”oats n eggs (soft boiled or over easy) is the greatest. mix all for the heartiest of all breakfast`s. for a real taste treat, add ”greek” seasoning (cavenders) it can be addicting for those with craving taste buds. also add bacon, sausage or??? this beats all that sweet stuff, you bet!

  • Steelcuts4lyfe

    Hey you guys do realize you are discussing oatmeal right?

  • Carollrdh

    I slice a whole slihtly green banana and mix the cereal into it..I use 1 C water so its creamier and green bananas have high resistan starch for better weight control…..feel full longer..

  • Carollrdh

    I slice a whole slihtly green banana and mix the cereal into it..I use 1 C water so its creamier and green bananas have high resistan starch for better weight control…..feel full longer..

  • MomCat

    I buy Country Choice Organic Steel Cut Oatmeal. I make 4 servings at a time, 1 cup oats to 4 cups water. I refrigerate 3 servings and microwave the following mornings. I don’t need another gadget like a rice steamer.
    I can’t say for sure if this is a “miracle” oatmeal but my total cholesterol dropped 24 points in one year. Previous to that I ate one-minute oatmeal with no appreciable decline in the number. I will, say since eating steel cut, regular oatmeal is mushy. I add cinnamon and applesauce for flavor

  • blackwatch

    good read..highly entertaining!

  • Pooh40

    If I cook a large batch of oatmeal and have a dish each morning, am I losing some of the nutrients in those ‘morning after’ breakfasts?

  • Caitlin

    Plain steel cut oats keep my feeling full till lunch time. Plain instant oatmeal has me starving after 2 hours. Makes me wonder about its nutrients after they cut it up and steam roll it. So, I don’t eat it anymore.