"You make such fancy oatmeal."
That was what my husband said to me the morning I made the oatmeal pictured above. It was loaded with butter, dried cranberries, soaked and dried pecans, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. After the photo shoot I added a moat of raw milk. And some sliced banana. And a dollop of peanut butter. I admit, I went overboard a little bit. But man was it good!
Oats are nutritious, cheap, and can be cooked in minutes, so they make a great breakfast! But they present us with a few problems...
problem #1: They contain phytates, substances that block your body's ability to absorb minerals.
problem #2: By themselves, they don't contain enough protein to make a breakfast that satisfies.
problem #3: The husband doesn't like them.
So what to do, what to do? Here are some solutions. (Unfortunately problem #3 appears to be unsolvable despite my fancy toppings. Oh well.)
solution #1: minimize anti-nutrients
This is a problem with all grains, as well as nuts and legumes. Eating too many unsoaked grains can cause nutrient deficiencies. Traditional cultures used to soak their grains for several hours (or sometimes days!) to get the most out of them. Several people (including Katie from Kitchen Stewardship, where I guest blogged last week) have done a lot of research on the effectiveness of soaking in minimizing anti-nutrients. The results have been less than crystal clear, but I'm choosing to stick with it, mostly because I seem to feel better after eating soaked vs. unsoaked whole grains, and I have read several testimonies from people who cannot easily digest unsoaked grains but do fine with soaked ones.
Here's how you do it.
You will need:
-equal amounts rolled oats (I like thick rolled oats best) and filtered water
-1 T. acidic medium per cup of oats: whey (from draining plain yogurt to make yogurt cheese), plain yogurt, buttermilk, or lemon juice
-1 T. whole wheat flour or buckwheat flour* per cup of oats
8-24 hours (24 is best) before you are going to eat your oatmeal, place your desired amount of rolled oats in a small saucepan. Add an equal amount of water (I usually do 3/4 c. oats and 3/4 c. water, which is a good amount for my toddler and I). Add your acidic medium and the whole wheat flour. Heat this mixture gently on the stove, because the process works best if everything is warm. Don't overheat, because then you are cooking the oats, instead of soaking them. You might want to set a timer for a minute or so, to make sure you don't forget about them (not that I've ever made that mistake...) Turn off the heat once they are lukewarm, and cover.
The next morning, add more water (the same amount you added the day before, so for me it's another 3/4 cup...or just eyeball it) and a pinch of salt (salt really enhances the flavor!). Bring to a boil in simmer gently for a few minutes until cooked. Soaked oats cook faster than unsoaked, so this is a great way to get breakfast on the table quickly.
Add your desired toppings and serve! Make sure to put some butter in there!
*Why do you have to add whole wheat or buckwheat flour? Oats are very low in phytase, which is necessary for neutralizing the phytates. Wheat & buckwheat are higher phytase, so adding some gives the oats a little boost. Freshly ground flour contains the most phytase. You can grind small amounts in your coffee grinder if you don't grind your own grain.*
(For more information, see Katie's post on this topic.)
solution #2: up the protein
One reason my husband does not like to eat oatmeal (besides an aversion to its consistency) is that it leaves him shaky-hungry in an hour. If I could encourage him to try it again, these tips might help. How can you add more protein to oatmeal?
My favorite way is to throw an egg in there. No, not a scrambled egg fried-rice style. You can't even tell this egg is in there, but it adds about six grams of protein to your breakfast.
Here's how you do it.
After you have cooked your oatmeal to it's desired consistency, turn off the heat. Crack an egg into it and quickly stir stir stir. If you don't get to it fast enough you might end up with chunks of egg. I always stir quickly and vigorously and I've never had that problem. Stir until the egg is no longer visible - it will only make your oatmeal a little creamier, which is not a bad thing! The residual heat should be enough to adequately cook the egg, but if you don't trust that, go ahead and leave the heat on low.
Other ideas for adding protein to oatmeal:
--chopped crispy nuts
--a dollop of nut butter
--raw whole milk
Or eat it with a side of:
--scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
--bacon or sausage
And as for problem #3, you might just have to make your husband some oatmeal cookies instead. Unfortunately, I haven't mastered a soaked/sprouted version of those yet. But they sure are a favorite around here! (I use the recipe from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking - one of my favorite cookbooks.)
So what's your favorite way to eat oatmeal?
This is part of Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Frugal Food Thursday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday.