Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January Challenge: Soak the Oats!

I received a lovely report from a friend who is converting with her husband to whole, local, farm foods and leaving a more standard American diet consisting of processed meats and refined foods (cereals, pasta, etc.). She additionally, like so many of us right now, has budget restrictions that had been preventing them from spending money on organic foods.

I shared a list of baby steps catered to her back in October (similar to the 12-steps I recently posted), and I just received an email that contained the following statement:

"Thanks so much for those tips you wrote out a while ago. I have gone over them about 4 times now and each time I find I've changed one more thing to fit what you said! I'm very very encouraged at the progress we're making and that in the process we're even managing to cut down on our grocery budget. Not sure how when I'm buying local, grass fed, higher cost per pound stuff, but it's working and I'm happy. Last week I got a whole chicken from the farm (some feathers still attached!) and I made a roast, liver pate, and tonight I'll make broth. I figured it provided about 8 meals total of just meat (mostly sandwiches) for only $22!"

The processed food industry has accomplished quite a feat in convincing us they are offering a cheaper and more convenient option. In my experience, it is so much cheaper to purchase purely whole foods and make things myself, that it allows us to upgrade to organic, pasture-fed, sustainably-farmed options across the board. This is helped tremendously by the fact that we use a bulk, natural food, delivery company (that serves over 15 states) for even better prices.

With that in mind, my challenge for January is to trade in cold cereal for soaked porridge. This will save you money AND nourish your body better. For us, this means Oats, but you can try Kamut, Spelt, Rye, Teff, Amaranth, Ground corn, or Quinoa. In fact, different grains offer different nutrients, so the more you mix it up the better. I am going to take my own challenge by adding an additional grain (or more) to our morning porridge.

I know most of my readers already do this or have begun this challenge already this month, but that makes my first challenge all the easier to complete, no?

The basic single-serving recipe is as follows:

1/2 cup warm filtered water
1/2 cup oats (kamut or spelt)
1 tbsp yogurt (whey, buttermilk, or kefir. For severe milk allergies, you can sub lemon juice of vinegar)

Mix together and soak overnight on the counter for 7-24 hours (longer = more sour). In the morning, bring 1/2 cup water to boil and add oats, reduce heat, and simmer several minutes.

Rye will require soaking on the longer side and adding more water.

Teff, Amaranth, and quinoa really need to soak for 24 hours.

Coarse ground corn should be soaked in lime water.



  1. We eat oatmeal almost every morning. But, I don't usually soak it. I used to. I don't know why I got out of the habit. I'll take your challenge. :-)

  2. We love this. The first thing we did on Monday after we got home was soaked our oats. The next morning the house smelled sooo good. We love it.
    Speaking of, I have to go throw some in a bowl for tomorrow!

  3. Just finished the last helping of soaked oatgroatquinoaranth for my lunchie today!

    And guess what I am drinking right know what day it is...

  4. Last week, I finally started soaking a mix of oat groats, wheat berries, hulled barley, millet, amaranth, and sweet brown rice. I soak them all day and then cook them in the crock pot overnight.

    I completely agree with you that by relying more on whole foods, bulk purchases, cooperative networks, farm-direct food, and the like, we can dramatically improve how we eat without spending a lot more money on food. Once we learn some systems making the most of our efforts in the kitchen, we can save time and energy, too.

  5. Chris - I like the idea of cooking them overnight! No work come morning =) My crock pot is huge though.

    I love knowing there are other industrious foodies out there pursuing real food. Thanks for reading!

  6. is it possible to eat them uncooked the following morning instead of cooking them? or would you need to add more water for this? and which oats are safe to use as there are soo many variations? excited and confused.

  7. Generally speaking, you want to cook grains to further neutralize phytic acid. I have used soaked oats and dried them and then used them to make granola, but even so, I end up baking it until cooked and crispy. I use Organic rolled oats. If you use steal cut oats, you need to double the water for soaking because they absorb so much more. I am not sure if you also need to double the cooking water. I am guessing not, but extra water during cooking wouldn't hurt either.

  8. Do all you helpful people throw out the soaking water? It seems the above porridge recipe in this article suggests I simply soak the oats then add them to the pan of boiling water; no pouring away or rinsing involved. Many Thanks

  9. I find the oats soak up most of the water. There is no need to discard soaking water (even when it's beans, etc). The soaking will neutralize the phytates, not simply leech them into the water.

    No pouring, no rinsing.


Questions and Comments welcome! If you would prefer to contact me privately, please email mariannescrivner (at) gmail (dot) com.


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