Q. I have a few questions about oats. I have noticed that regular oatmeal is so bland, and that I really like the oats when the label says 100% whole oats (like the Hodgson Mills brand) or the steel cut oats. They are thicker and fuller, but are quite a bit more expensive. The plain Quaker (or store brand) “oats” are soupier and don’t have much substance. I put cinnamon and fruit on all of these. Which of these oats are better for me? M.F. Grand Rapids
A. According to the Quaker Oats web site, there is no nutritional difference between quick oats, old fashioned oats and steel-cut oats. They all have the same calories, fiber, and all help to reduce blood cholesterol levels if you eat them consistently.
The difference between the oats is the texture, and that’s probably what you are noticing. Each type of oat is considered a whole grain (containing the bran, germ and endosperm).
“Steel cut” oats means that the oat grain is cut into thirds, but not rolled into flakes. Alternate names for steel cut oats are Scotch oats, pinhead oats and Irish oats. These oats are the chewiest, and take about 30 minutes to cook.
“Instant” or quick oats are steel cut oats that have been rolled into thin flakes. They cook up quickly, have the least defined texture and are rather soupy. These are good for baking, too (oatmeal cookies, anyone?)
“Old-fashioned” oats are whole oats that have been rolled flat into thicker flakes. They take about 5 minutes to cook, but have a defined texture (these are the ones I prefer).
I may have a new favorite hot cereal: Quaker Oats Multi Grain (pictured above). It is a whole grain blend of rye, barley, oats and wheat, with a texture similar to old-fashioned oats. This cereal got a thumbs up from me and my husband. Grand Rapids is used as a test market for new products, and I hope this is not one of those good products that goes away after a few months (I noticed that the Multi Grain hot cereal is not listed on the Quaker web site under products, but it seems you can order it directly from the company. Maybe they haven’t gotten around to updating their product page?)