Since transitioning into the living foods lifesetyle, soaking, sprouting, culturing and fermenting grains, vegetables and beverages have eased into a comfortable rhythm that is simultaneously meditative. A farm-girl at heart living in an urban apartment in a bustling city that imports over 90 percent of its food, sprouting and fermenting are the simplest steps I can do to cultivate a connection with daily food consumption. Yes, I have always loved great food, but it was mostly in the form of purchased, branded items neatly presented in beautiful packages, ready for consumption with a few simple steps. (As a record, I spent about $430 on iHerb in 2014, and $350 in 2013.) Now I actually take care of food: nurture it, grow it, take pride in it. It has became a bonding tool with both nature and people and to express the way I feel about eating.
Apart from the spiritual connection offered by living foods, the sprouting and culturing process causes biochemical changes that gives a nutrition fillip. If you are interested in knowing the nitty details, I have researched and written about it on the ‘techniques’ section. Give it a click!
How can I substantiate the claim that this is the Most Nourishing Bowl of Oatmeal? Nourishment is a nebulous concept, but vaguely we all know that it is connected with wellness – physically, emotionally and intellectually. Physically, whole oats are a powerhouse of complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, soluble fibre and and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and manganese. Sprouting and fermenting with kefir further reduces the anti-nutrients such as phytates and increases vitamins. Emotionally, the preparation process is also a nourishing activity where you are deeply engaged in the process of life. You will marvel at the transformation of something dormant into active and living. You will feel connected, empowered, joyful, and a deep sense of fulfillment. Intellectually… well, you can encourage and educate your friends or children about the benefits of slow and living foods!
I have tried various types of oats in the testing stages. Rolled oats, which have been previously steamed, are un-sproutable and will ferment to slime. Not all whole oat groats will sprout; it must be raw and unheated. I have had no luck with Bob’s Red Mill, my go-to brand. Furthermore, do you know there are two types of oats, conventional ‘covered’ oats and hulless ‘naked’ oats? The former is milled to remove the outer hull to produce oat groats, whereas the latter has loose hulls that naturally opens during maturity and is removed during thrashing. Pick hulless oats for sprouting as these naked oats are more likely to be raw and intact, undamaged by heat created during de-hulling. In addition, hulless oats are said to be higher protein than conventional oats. So far I am still on the hunt to source hulless sproutable oats; Rawfully Tempting has suggested Jaffe Brothers, but it is not apparent if they ship internationally. Finally, if you want to keep this recipe completely raw you can simply blend the sprouted oats to a pudding; my experience is that it gives a slightly gritty texture that only slow-cooking can overcome.
Many people like to start their day off with some sort of oatmeal porridge. If this agrees with you, I promise this will not disappoint. Above are some of the water kefirs I have been experimenting with – beet, mango and in smoothies. Kefirs are so much bubbly fun they deserve a post of their own, to come.
- 1 cup raw whole oat groats, sproutable *
- 2 cups de-chlorinated or boiled water, cooled to slightly warm to the touch
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup water kefir, adjust as necessary
- Almond milk or non-dairy milk
- Seasonal fresh fruits
- Nut or seed butters
- Four days before you want to cook the porridge, put the oats into a large sprouting jar and fill the jar with 2 cups of water and lemon juice. Leave the oats to soak at room temperature for 10-12 hours. Drain and rinse well until the water runs clear.
- Place the jar in a warm corner of your kitchen, out of direct sunlight, to initiate the sprouting process. Using the help of a bowl or plate, angle the jar so that it is on an incline to allow drainage. Rinse the oats two or three times a day to keep them from drying out. I do this in the morning and evening. By day 3 you should see small tails inching out of each grain.
- After two days and a final rinse, once the oats have sprouted, transfer to the slow cooker and add 4 cups water. Turn the setting to high and cook overnight for 6-8 hours. The next morning, allow the oats to cool, then stir in water kefir. Dish out into serving bowls and top with milk, fruits and your favorite nut butter.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume within 3 days. The probiotics and enzymes in the water kefir will continue to work on the oats and it will increasingly become softer and acquire a fermented taste.
*Sproutable oats are raw oats that have not been treated with high heat. Look out for the word "hulls" or "sprouting seeds."
Shortcut alternative (2 days): soak 1 cup whole oat groats for 24 hours in 1¾ de-chlorinated water and ¼ cup water kefir. Drain and rinse well, reserving the fermented liquid for the next ferment. Transfer the oat groats to the slow cooker. Add 4 cups water and slow-cook overnight.