Made from the grains of the oat plant, the dish we know as oatmeal is made from ground oat groats (sometimes called "milled oats"), steel-cut oats or rolled oats. Oat groats are the seeds of the oat plant with the hulls removed.
If the groats are cut into small pieces, they are called "steel-cut oats." When groats are steamed and flattened, they are called "rolled oats."
Oatmeal can be eaten raw with milk, like a cereal, or heated and eaten as porridge.
Though oatmeal remains a common breakfast dish today, it has been served up for thousands of years. Oats were cultivated in ancient China as far back as 7000 B.C., but the ancient Greeks were the first to eat oatmeal as the porridge-type cereal we know today.
People around the world enjoy oatmeal in several different ways. In Germany and Switzerland, people eat oats like a form of cereal. Uncooked oats are soaked in a mixture of milk and cinnamon overnight. In the morning, nuts and fruits are added.
In the United States, Vermont boasts the highest per-capita consumption of oatmeal. A popular Vermont variation of oatmeal begins with steel-cut oats, which are soaked overnight in a mixture of water, salt and maple syrup. The next morning, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger are added, and the oatmeal is cooked. When the oatmeal is ready, it is served with cream, milk or butter.
Don't be fooled, though. Vermont isn't the only state that loves oatmeal. A recent study found that more than 80 percent of U.S. households have oatmeal in the pantry.
When the weather gets cold in January, oatmeal is warm, nutritious, delicious food to fill your tummy before you head off to school or out to play. And remember — January is National Oatmeal Month!