In Pictures: Ingredients for Authentic French Breakfasts

Are the Various Types of Oatmeal Nutritionally the Same?

Oats gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process that they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Although oats are then hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and their germ allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients. Different types of processing are then used to produce the various types of oat products, which are generally used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods and stuffings:

  • Oat groats: unflattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread.

The different types of oatmeal are not at all the same in terms of nutrition. The very outermost portion of the oat (called the hull) is always removed before the oat is eaten. However, once the hull has been removed, there are several further processing steps that can be taken. Because these additional processing steps almost always serve to lower the nutritional value of the oats, I recommend the least number of additional processing steps to give yourself the best nourishment possible from your oats. The least processed forms for oats are oat groats and steel-cut oats. Oat groats consist of the hulled but unflattened and unchopped oat kernels. Steel-cut oats are the same as oat groats, except for being chopped with steel blades. Because they are the least processed, these two forms of oats are also the most nutritious.

Old-fashioned oats are chopped, steamed, and rolled to give them their flatter shape. Because they are more processed, they are less nourishing than oat groats or steel-cut oats. However, they are still better sources of nourishment than most quick-cooking oats or instant oatmeals. Quick and instant oatmeal usually have their oat bran—the layer of the grain that’s just beneath the hull—removed. Many vitamins and much of the oat’s fiber are contained within the bran, and so its removal is particularly problematic when it comes to nutritional value. Oat groats, steel-cut oats, and, to a slightly lesser extent, old-fashioned or rolled oats would be your best choices here, with quick and instant oatmeal usually being less nourishing due to further processing and the removal of their bran.

Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods

Steel-cut oats Old-fashioned (rolled) oats Quick oats
Description Also called Irish or Scotch oats, these are cut, not rolled. They look like chopped-up rice, take the longest to cook, and have a slightly chewy consistency. Sometimes called rolled oats, these look like flat little ovals. When processing these oats, the kernels are steamed first, and then rolled to flatten them. They take longer to cook than quick oats but are quicker than steel-cut oats. Also called instant oats, these oats are precooked, dried, and then rolled. They cook in a few minutes when added to hot water and have a mushy texture.
Typical Serving Size 1/4 cup dry 1/2 cup dry 1/2 cup dry
Calories 170 190 150
Total Fat 3 g 3.5 g 3 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g 0.5 g 0.5 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg 0 mg 0 mg
Carbs 29 g 32 g 27 g
Fiber 5 g 5 g 4 g
Sugars 0 g 1 g 1 g
Protein 7 g 7 g 5 g
Calcium 2% 2% 0%
Iron 10% 15% 10%

Surprised? It looks like they’re pretty similar, but one thing that sets them apart is how they compare on the glycemic index. The less-processed steel-cut oats have a much lower glycemic load than higher-processed quick oats. Low-GI foods slow down the rate that glucose (sugar) gets introduced into your body, and in contrast, high-GI foods cause a spike in your blood sugar as well as insulin, causing you to crave more sugary foods when your glucose levels drop. The best option then are the steel-cut oats, with rolled oats a great second choice. They’ll keep you feeling fuller longer, which will keep your energy levels up and help you lose weight.

Source: Popsugar

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Oats . . . . .

Egg Idioms From Around The World

Saacha Bos wrote . . . . .

Procurar cabelo em ovo: To look for hair on an egg = to give too much importance to insignificant details. (Brazil)

(Dat is een) eijte: (That is a) small egg = that’s very easy. (Netherlands)

Etwas für ‘n Appel und ‘n Ei kaufen: To buy something for an apple and an egg = buy something at a bargain; cheap. (Germany)

Los huevos se pusieron duros: The eggs have gotten hard = times are tough. (Puerto Rico)

Kümmere Dich nicht um ungelegte Eier: Don’t worry about unlaid eggs = we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. (Germany)

Jī dàn li tiāo gǔ tou (鸡蛋里挑骨头): To look for bones in an egg = to nitpick. (China)

Yǐ luǎn jī shí (以卵击石): To strike a stone with an egg: to attempt the impossible, to test one’s fate) Mandarin

Dat is het hele eiereneten: That is the entire egg dish = that’s the whole story. (Netherlands)

Me da hueva: Give me egg = I don’t want to, it makes me tired. (Mexico)

Es un huevo sin sal: An egg without salt = a mediocre, dull person; without spirit. (Spain)

Er was geen kip: There was no chicken = there was nobody. (Netherlands)

De kip met gouden eieren slachten: To slaughter the chicken with the golden eggs = to get rid of something that makes you a lot of money. (Netherlands)

Lopen als een kip die haar ei niet kwijt kan: Walking like a chicken who can’t lose her egg = pacing nervously. (Netherlands)

Yaitza’ ku’ritzu nye u’chat (Яйца курицу не учат): An egg does not teach the chicken. (Russia)

Se parecen como un huevo a una castaña: As similar as an egg to a chestnut = not similar at all. (Spain)

Source: Lucky Peach

Baobab – the African Fruit Packed with Nutritional Goodness

Baobab fruit is a curious-looking greenish pod from southern Africa. Crack it open, and inside is a powdery white fruit that is a powerhouse of nutrients. Fans say it offers six times more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas, more antioxidants than blueberries and more than twice the calcium level of milk.

It is also high in iron and magnesium, is stuffed with fibre and, as if that wasn’t enough, has prebiotic qualities that can stimulate your gut’s “good bacteria”.

Though its virtues have been preached for many years by health food fiends, baobab has only recently made its way into the mainstream. Waitrose now sell an apple and guava juice with baobab extract, while M&S has just launched a raspberry and redcurrant juice “booster” loaded with the fruit. At the Eden Project in Cornwall, there is even an annual baobab festival, in partnership with the non-profit association Phytotrade Africa. Phytotrade, which supports rural harvesters and producers across southern Africa, won approval from the EU in 2008 for the food to be imported (previously, non-western fruits and vegetables were hard to bring in). It now oversees the export of about 20 tonnes of baobab a year, with the growing industry crucial in bringing money to local people, who harvest and process the fruit.

The baobab tree has an iconic status in Africa, rich in myth and legend. It is often referred to as the “upside-down tree” because its branches resemble roots sticking up. Many believe that it was turned upside down by angry god, who grow tired of the tree’s arrogance. The Ngoni people believed an enemy tribe could turn themselves into baobabs, so threw spears through some of the trees, which are still there today.

Henry Johnson, the market development manager for Phytotrade, says, that unlike most fruit and vegetables, which have been altered as a result of human intervention over the millennia, the baobab is a truly ancient food. “The few mature baobab trees that have been carbon dated put their ages at over 1000 years. But it has been suggested that many reach double this age,” he says. “You may well be eating fruit from the very same tree that was alive and feeding people at the time of the Battle of Hastings. Or indeed if baobab trees do in fact live more than double that age, then perhaps fruit from a tree that was alive when Jesus was walking the earth.”

The Phytotrade team can talk about the health virtues of baobab till the cows come home, but are reluctant to pin the word “superfood” on it. “We’ve tried to avoid that kind of moniker, as it makes it sound like a fad item,” says Arthur Stevens, the association’s supply chain manager. “We want this to be a long-growth product because we see it as hugely beneficial for farmers in southern Africa and we don’t want them to be left high and dry.”

Rosby Mthimba, a baobab farmer from Malawi, says that in Africa the baobab has traditionally been eaten fresh from the shell as a snack – “We wake up in the morning and if we are a little hungry, we often break off a bit and chew it” – or, in periods of hardship, as an alternative to grains like maize: “During times of drought, it plays a very big role, because people add it it to porridge to make it thicker.” Interestingly, certain baobab trees yield a much sweeter fruit, even compared to the ones they grow next to. Nobody quite understands why, but local people, says Rosby with a laugh, always know the best trees to harvest from.

So how can we Brits get a little bit of baobab in our own cooking? The powder isn’t too enticing neat, but is easily stirred into porridge, yogurt and smoothies, and the Eden Project says it great for baking, imparting a zingy flavour to biscuits, cakes and flapjacks. Zambia-born chef Malcolm Riley, who now lives in Devon and goes by the moniker “The African chef”, is a fan of using the fruit in jams and chutneys – its pectin content means it is a a natural thickener.

Whether or not baobab will eventually sit in your weekly shopping basket along with bananas and bread remains to be seen. But this is a foodstuff which is certainly now out of Africa.

Source: The Telegraph

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Baobab could be the next big thing in gluten- and grain-free baking . . . . .

Why Do Recipe Writers Lie about How Long It Takes to Caramelize Onions?

Tom Scocca wrote . . . . . .

Browning onions is a matter of patience. My own patience ran out earlier this year while leafing through the New York Times food section. There, in the newspaper of record, was a recipe for savory scones with onions, currants, and caraway. Though I wasn’t particularly interested in making savory scones, one passage caught my eye:

“Add the onions to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until they begin to turn dark brown and somewhat soft, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and a pinch of the fine sea salt; continue cooking until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes longer.”

Soft, dark brown onions in five minutes. That is a lie. Fully caramelized onions in five minutes more. Also a lie.

There is no other word for it. Onions do not caramelize in five or 10 minutes. They never have, they never will—yet recipe writers have never stopped pretending that they will. I went on Twitter and said so, rudely, using CAPS LOCK. A chorus of frustrated cooks responded in kind (“That’s on some bullshit. You want caramelized onions? Stir for 45 minutes”).

As long as I’ve been cooking, I’ve been reading various versions of this lie, over and over. Here’s Madhur Jaffrey, from her otherwise reliable Indian Cooking, explaining how to do the onions for rogan josh: “Stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn a medium-brown colour.” The Boston Globe, on preparing pearl onions for coq au vin: “Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until golden.” The Washington Post, on potato-green bean soup: “Add the onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.”

If you added all those cooking times together end to end, you still wouldn’t have caramelized onions. Here, telling the truth about how to prepare onions for French onion soup, is Julia Child: “[C]ook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.” Ten minutes plus 25 to 30 minutes equals 35 to 40 minutes. That is how long it takes to caramelize onions.

Telling the truth about caramelized onions would turn a lot of dinner-in-half-an-hour recipes into dinner-in-a-little-over-an-hour recipes. I emailed Sam Sifton, the Times food critic turned national editor, to ask if the Recipe Writing Guild had some secret agreement to print false estimates of onion-cooking time. He wrote back: “I can reveal that onion caramelization takes longer than the Guild believes. But it need not take as long as you believe it to take! You can speed it up with butter, so long as you are careful not to burn.”

Could onions be browned, at all, in 10 minutes? I embarked on a quest to find out. Someone on Twitter had suggested things would go faster with sweet onions. This seemed a little like pepping up a bread pudding recipe by treating sliced pound cake as a kind of bread. But I bought a Tampico sweet onion, chopped half of it into tiny bits—only half, so as not to crowd the pan—and turned my biggest burner as high as it would go. Butter seemed a little risky at that temperature, so I went with olive oil, in a cheap, lightweight nonstick skillet. In five minutes, a few flecks of brown had appeared among the otherwise raw-looking onion bits. After eight minutes, some of the onion had begun to take on the scorched aspect of the unfortunate onions stuck to bagels. At the 10-minute mark, the brown flecks had turned black, in a mince that was a mix of brown and still-pale bits. The onion was done cooking—that is, it was beginning to be ruined—but it was not very well caramelized. At 11 minutes, I scraped an inedible mess out of the pan.

But the onion lies had not yet been fully refuted. Melissa Clark, the author of the Times’ scone recipe, claimed in a Diner’s Journal post that she relies on “a somewhat unusual technique,” one that “takes less than half the time of the traditional slow-cooked method of caramelization and makes for sweeter, more intensely flavored onions with a complex, chewy texture.” The secret, she writes, is starting the onions in a dry pan, and adding the oil later.

Note that half the time of the traditional method is still 20 minutes, not 10. Nevertheless, I decided to follow her instructions to the letter. I used a red onion, as Clark specified, “halved through the root and thinly sliced crosswise.” I started slicing it paper-thin. Not good enough? I got out the knife sharpener and touched up the edge on the cleaver. Now it was tissue-paper thin. I heated the pan—dry—over a generously medium-high flame, then added the onions.

After five minutes—when according to Brown, it would “begin to turn dark brown and somewhat soft”—the onion was resolutely white and pink, and only slightly translucent. I added the oil: one tablespoon, extra-virgin. The white parts turned the color of extra-virgin olive oil.

At 10 minutes, when it was supposed to be done, the onion was translucent and soft, with only a tinge of gold. Soon after, one golden speck appeared. By 15 minutes, the onion was even softer and more golden. At 20 minutes, there were deep brown patches, and I was afraid they would scorch while I set down my spatula to take notes. At 24 minutes, the risk of scorching forced me to lower the heat to medium. By 25 minutes, they were pretty well caramelized, and at 28 minutes they were as done as I’d want.

So Clark was only off by 180 percent on the cooking time. You can save 12 minutes off caramelizing onions, provided you pin yourself to the stove.

That is the deeper problem with all the deceit around the question of caramelized onions. The premise is wrong. The faster you try to do it, the more you waste your time. This isn’t some kitchen koan. It’s a practical fact. The 10-minute-cum-28-minute caramelized onion is all labor and anxiety. Give yourself 45 or 50 minutes to brown onions, working slowly on a moderate flame, and it’s an untaxing background activity. You can chop other vegetables, wash some pots, duck out to have a look at the ballgame on TV in the next room. Keep half an eye on the pan. It will only need close tending toward the end.

Recipe writers approach kitchen time with a stopwatch. The Times’ scone recipe, as written, claimed to take 45 minutes. Once you subtract out the (fictitiously shortened) onion-cooking time, the one-minute caraway-seed-toasting time, the 15-to-17 minute baking time, and the 10-minute cooling time, that leaves the cook seven to nine minutes in the middle to mix the dough (including grating frozen butter into it), shape it, cut it into scones, and lay the scones out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Oh, and somewhere in there, the onions needed to “cool completely.” Isn’t home baking soothing?

In truth, the best time to caramelize onions is yesterday. Often enough, you need to have them ready before you can start on the rest of the dish. Thus the recipe-writers’ impulse to deceive. Browning onions is slow work, and it comes first. So get a pan going after dinner, and they’ll be ready when you need them. Or throw the onions in a crock pot and go to bed. In recipe time, that’s hours and hours. In your time, the time that matters, it’s less than five minutes.

Source: Slate