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Quick oats are oats that have been processed to greatly decrease the total cooking time required in their preparation. They are not the same as instant oats, oats which have been precooked, so that all they require is a quick heating. There are a number of ways to use these oats, ranging from breads to breakfast cereal, and many markets carry them, both packaged and in bulk. Like other grains, they should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct light so that they do not go bad before they are used.
Oats come in a variety of styles, differentiated by how they are processed at the mill. Quick oats are produced by taking oat grains, cracking them into pieces, and then rolling them out. This is in contrast with regular rolled or old fashioned oats, which are simply rolled out, but not cut. The cutting and rolling reduces the size of the pieces, ensuring that the oats cook very quickly when they are combined with warm water, milk, juice, or other cooking media.
One classic use of quick oats is in breakfast cereal. Oats are popular as a breakfast cereal because they are high in protein and other valuable nutrients, making them an excellent start to the day, especially when combined with fresh fruit and other nutritious toppings. However, oatmeal can be time consuming to make, since traditional old fashioned oats require 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time. Quick oats reduce this cooking time, allowing people to spend less time on breakfast, but they are more nutritious than instant oats, another quick-cooking alternative to old fashioned oats.
Quick oats can also be used like old fashioned oats in baking. Oats are sometimes added to breads, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods to up the fiber content and to create an interesting texture. The oats make the food more chewy, and add a nutty flavor which some people find enjoyable. Oats may also be sprinkled as a topping on various baked goods. Unlike old fashioned oats, quick oats will cook all the way through in dishes with a short cooking time, including pancakes and waffles.
A serving of quick oats offers lots of dietary fiber and protein, and regular consumption of oats also appears to lower cholesterol, making them a heart healthy food. They can also be packed as a quick snack for the office, or included in the packing for backpacking and camping trips, since they offer the nutritional value of oats without the long cooking time.