Originally published in The Journal on December 28, 2017.
Steel cut oat breakfast bowls are one of the most popular trends for foodies and Instagramers right now, and it’s clear why. Flavorful combinations of seasonal ingredients are also packed with nutrients from the colorful topping down to the base: oats.
Steel cut oats (often called Irish or Scottish oats) differ from rolled oats and instant oatmeal in terms of nutrition, cooking time and texture. The differences are due to how much the whole oat berry (called a groat) is processed. Steel cut oats are similar to rice in texture and some say in appearance too. They are made when oat berries are chopped into pieces and retain the most fiber and other whole grain nutrients. Next, rolled oats are made when an oat berries are steamed and then pressed into flat discs. They have more surface area than their Irish cousins, so they cook faster than steel cut oats. Lastly, we have instant oats, the most processed of the three. Instant oats are precooked and then pressed even thinner than rolled oats. Since they are so much thinner, the oats can’t retain their texture, and the resulting oatmeal is often mushy.
Mill City Farmers Market vendor Therese Moore hit the scene last winter with her sweet and savory steel cut oat business: 3 Bear Oats. After being inspired by savory steel cut oatmeal restaurant on a trip to New York City, Therese decided she needed to bring the trend home to the cereal capital of the country.
Based on the classic story of Goldilocks, 3 Bear Oat’s breakfast bowls come in three sizes, baby, mama and papa, and are available to eat at the market or to take home. They feature traditional flavors like apple and cinnamon, unique combinations like ginger and curry and, my personal favorite, the “Petite Canadien” with bacon, cheddar cheese and maple syrup. Therese sources all her toppings from fellow vendors at the Mill City Farmers Markets or from local food co-ops.
You can find 3 Bear Oats at the Mill City Farmers Market’s upcoming indoor winter markets. The indoor winter markets host about 40 local farmers, food makers and artists inside the Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., on select Saturdays November through April.