Eating to Run: Oatmeal

I like to eat as much as the next girl -probably a little bit more than that if I’m being honest. There have been times in my life when I was motivated to run primarily to offset my calorie intake. I still appreciate that aspect of running – of course. But I’ve grown to appreciate so much more about running, and I’ve realized how important adequate nutrition is to the success and – more importantly – my enjoyment of running. So while I’m training for a marathon it makes sense to focus my food choices on those that pack the most nutritional punch.

You’re probably aware of something called steel cut oats. They have been written about, talked about, cheered about, studied, etc., for years now. People who eat them feel sorry for people haven’t yet seen the light. Just kidding, of course.

I have tried to make steel cut oats a couple of times but until recently I really haven’t been able to understand the excitement. Or even the attraction. I mean, it’s just oatmeal.

But sub-zero temps and ice everywhere I look have inspired me to eat mostly comforting, warm, filling foods recently. It makes me cold to even look at the salad bar in the office cafe. I’ve been eating chili, lasagna, and even oatmeal for dinner.

I decided to look for a recipe for steel cut oatmeal that would teach me how to achieve this superior oatmeal experience I was hearing so much about. Cooks Illustrated is always a helpful resource when I want to know both the how and the why of cooking or baking. I used the technique outlined in their  “Perfect Bowl of Oatmeal” recipe, and adjusted the ingredient ratio a bit for myself. This turned out perfectly. I’m late to jump on the bandwagon for steel-cut oatmeal, but I am officially converted. Here’s my version. I like to add some dried fruit and a splash of milk before I eat mine.

Toasted Steel-Cut Oatmeal
serves 3 (I divide it between 3 mason jars so I can grab one on the way to work)

1 T. organic cold-pressed coconut oil
1 cup steel-cut oats

2 cups 1% organic milk
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt

1. In a small skillet, heat the coconut oil and add the oats. Stir to coat. Toast the oats until the start to develop a slightly darker color. Remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, heat the milk, water, and salt together until they are about to boil. Stir in the oats and reduce heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Understanding Oats
Both rolled oats and steel cut oats originate as oat groats (unbroken oat grains). It’s how the groats are cooked and processed that differentiates them. Toasting in a low oven develops the oat’s flavor profile and prevents spoilage; steaming softens the groat.

It’s the processing that takes place after the groats are cooked that makes them different. Rolled oats (a.k.a. old-fashioned oats) are the result of steamed groats that are then  pressed between rollers and dried. Steel-cut oats result from splitting the whole groat into pieces. The two types of oats bring similar nutrition to the table, including complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and iron.

Disclaimer: There are a lot of opinions and a lot of scientific data out there. Just to be clear, I am not an expert – just an enthusiast.


One thought on “Eating to Run: Oatmeal

  1. Thanks for the post! My husband is a runner and cyclist and I’ve have heard a lot about steel cut oats. He runs long distances and has trouble getting enough calories during a run. I posted a recipe for overnight muesli that you may want to check out. It is also high in protein for endurance. Thanks for sharing!

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