Eating for Life

An overnight success

Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA/Photo by JIM BARCUS/The Kansas City Star
Steel-cut oatmeal made in a slow cooker offers more nutrition than instant oatmeal. This peachy version introduces soluble fiber into your breakfast.

T hink of oatmeal as your wakeup call to good nutrition: A cup of cooked steel-cut oats has 8 grams of total fiber. Two of those grams are soluble.

In the ’90s oatmeal became the first whole food to receive FDA approval to make a health claim because it contains beta-glucans, a soluble fiber that absorbs cholesterol from the blood. Studies showed just 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal a day can produce cholesterol-lowering effects.

Instant oatmeal is easy to prepare, but it has just half the fiber, and the thin, precooked flakes produce cereal with a bland flavor and gluey texture. By contrast, steel-cut oats have a chewier texture and naturally nutty flavor.

The tradeoff is they take much longer to cook, and that’s an important consideration for busy cooks trying to get the family out the door every morning. The Star’s Winter Peach Oatmeal lets breakfast cook while you sleep. Just fill the slow cooker with oats and water before bed and let it cook all night.

Shopping tip: Steel-cut oats are also known as Scotch oats and Irish oatmeal. Whatever name you prefer, the oat groats have been cut into two to three pieces with a steel blade; they haven’t been steamed and rolled into thinner flakes like quick-cooking oats. With the recent emphasis on eating more whole-grain foods, more mainstream supermarkets are stocking tin canisters of steel-cut oats. One popular brand is McCann’s.

Cooking tip: If speed is of the essence, cook 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats in 3 1/2 cups water according to package directions. Top as directed with peaches, yogurt and walnuts.

Winter peach oatmeal

Makes 6 servings

1 cup steel-cut oats (or Irish oatmeal)

4 cups water

1 cup dried peaches, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup white grape juice

1 (6-ounce) carton peach or vanilla flavored low-fat yogurt

6 tablespoons English walnut pieces, toasted

Combine oats and 4 cups water in 3 1/2 - to 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting 6 to 8 hours or until oats are tender and cereal is thick.

Combine peaches, nutmeg and white grape juice in a small saucepan. Cover and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes or until peaches are tender. Uncover and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until liquid is slightly reduced.

To serve, spoon cooked oats into individual serving bowls. Top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons warm peaches and syrup, then a dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Per serving: 214 calories (24 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 1 milligram cholesterol, 37 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 22 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA/Photo by JIM BARCUS/The Star

Steel-cut oatmeal made in a slow cooker offers more nutrition than instant oatmeal.