AskDefine | Define oatmeal

Dictionary Definition



1 porridge made of rolled oats [syn: burgoo]
2 meal made from rolled or ground oats [syn: rolled oats]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Meal made from rolled or round oats
  2. A breakfast cereal made from rolled oats, cooked in milk and/or water. (Porridge in UK)
  3. a light greyish brown colour, like that of oatmeal.
    oatmeal colour:   


breakfast cereal


  1. of a light greyish brown colour, like that of oatmeal



See also

Extensive Definition

Oatmeal is a product of ground oat groats (i.e. oat-meal, cf. cornmeal, peasemeal, etc.) or a porridge made from this product (also called oatmeal cereal). In the United States and Canada, 'oatmeal' can refer also to other products refined from oat groats, such as cut oats, crushed oats, and rolled oats ("quick oats"). "Instant" oatmeal is pre-cooked and dried cut oats, usually with sweetener and flavor additives.
Oatmeal is also used in some alcoholic drinks, cosmetics, soaps, external medical treatments, and is sometimes an added flavour in canned animal products. It is also used as a thickener in some brands of canned chili con carne.

Breakfast cereal health benefits

There has been increasing interest in oatmeal in recent years due to its beneficial health effects. Studies have shown that daily consumption of a bowl of oatmeal can lower blood cholesterol. After reports found that oats can help lower cholesterol, an "oat bran craze" swept the U.S. in the late 1980s, peaking in 1989. The food fad was short-lived and faded by the early 1990s. The popularity of oatmeal and other oat products again increased after the January 1997 decision by the Food and Drug Administration that food with a lot of oat bran or rolled oats can carry a label claiming it may reduce the risk of heart disease, when combined with a low-fat diet. This is because of the beta-glucan in the oats. Rolled oats have also long been a staple of many athletes' diets, especially weight trainers', given oatmeal's high content of complex carbohydrates and water-soluble fiber which encourage slow digestion and stable blood-glucose levels. Despite these developments, according to the New York Times, Harry Balzar of the NPD Group stated that "the proportion of Americans who eat oatmeal for breakfast has not changed in 20 years;" "one in five Americans eat oatmeal." Oatmeal porridge also contains more B vitamins and calories than other kinds of porridges.
Some of the items added to oatmeal porridge to enhance its flavour include: salt, white sugar, brown sugar, stevia, cinnamon, honey, jam, molasses, maple syrup, butter, chocolate, soy milk, condensed or evaporated milk, and cream. Various types of fruit and nuts are also often added, including: strawberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, mangos, bananas, raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries, pecans, walnuts, and even peanut butter.
Cooked oatmeal has a lower GI value than has uncooked, because cooking releases water-soluble fibers from the flakes. These fibers release glucose very slowly.

Cultural associations


In Scotland, oatmeal is created by grinding oats into a coarse powder. Various grades are available depending on the thoroughness of the grinding, including Coarse, Pin(head) and Fine oatmeal. The main uses are:
  • as an ingredient in baking
  • in the manufacture of bannocks or oatcakes
  • as a stuffing for poultry
  • as a coating for Caboc cheese
  • as the main ingredient of the Scottish dish, skirlie, or its chip-shop counterpart, the deep-fried thickly-battered mealy pudding
  • mixed with sheep's blood, salt, and pepper to make Highland black pudding
  • mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep's intestine to make "marag geal"' Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast.
  • Traditional porridge (or "porage")
  • Brose: a thick mixture made with uncooked oatmeal and butter or cream; eaten like porridge but much more filling.
  • Rolled oats, crushed oats, and other "instant" variations are often used for this purpose nowadays, since they are quicker to prepare.
  • Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water which is then strained and heated for the benefit of infants and invalids.
Oatmeal has a long history in Scottish society because oats are better suited than wheat to the short, wet growing season. Hence it became the staple grain of that country. Ancient Scottish Universities had an holiday called Meal Monday, to permit students to return to their farms and collect more oats for food.
Samuel Johnson referred, disparagingly, to this in his dictionary definition for oats: "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." His biographer, James Boswell, noted that Lord Elibank was said by Sir Walter Scott to have retorted, "Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?"
A common alternative method of cooking oatmeal in Scotland is to soak it overnight in salted water and cook on a low heat in the morning for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.


In the U.S. state of Vermont oatmeal making has a long tradition originating in farm families. While there are variations, most begin with heavy steel cut oats. The oats are soaked overnight in cold water, salt and maple syrup. Early the next morning, before beginning farm chores the cook will add ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and sometimes ground ginger. The pot is placed over heat and cooks for upwards of 90 minutes, being served after the chores with cream, milk, or butter. As most contemporary Vermonters no longer have farm chores, the recipe is simplified to a briefer 10 to 30 minute cooking at a higher heat. Vermont leads the U.S. in per capita consumption of cooked oatmeal cereal.
oatmeal in Japanese: オートミール
oatmeal in Russian: Овсяная каша
oatmeal in Finnish: Kaurapuuro
oatmeal in Chinese: 燕麥片

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

breakfast food, cereal, cornflakes, dry cereal, farina, frumenty, grits, gruel, hasty pudding, hominy grits, hot cereal, kasha, loblolly, millet, mush, porridge, puffed rice, puffed wheat, rolled oats, wheatflakes
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