Today's meal idea is all about oats - a true superfood. Here at Smiling Horse, oats are very popular and THE top choice of you-know-who - neigh! We've discovered that just 1/4 cup of oats provides significant amounts of manganese, molybdenum, phosphorous, copper, biotin, protein, carbs and lots more. Oats have been shown to improve cardiovascular health, enhance immune response, stabilize blood sugar and help protect against some types of cancer. Lots more great benefits - google if you're interested! Like all cereal grains, oats have phytic acid and lectins, which make them unhealthy to eat raw, which is why it's important to prepare grains carefully to reduce this acid if you want maximum nutritional benefit. Soaking them for at least 8 hours before cooking is quick and easy. There is lots of information out there about soaked oats, so if you are unsure about soaking, check out your trusted nutrition sources.
Interesting Factoid: Why are raw oats not easily digested? Answer: As a cereal crop, they're a member of the grass family. They're actually a seed and can survive long periods of dormancy in the soil - even a few years - so they're like little fortresses - tough to break down!
Method: In a saucepan the evening before, put one cup of oats and one cup of water. Add two tablespoons of an acidic medium such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Cover and let it sit on the counter overnight - at room temperature, not cooled. In the morning, add another cup of water, a teaspoon of salt and cook as usual. They will cook quickly because they were soaked overnight.
Note: I discovered - it isn't recommend you use whole oats (groats), which are not easily digested unless they are cooked, so don't use those for soaking and don't use steel cut oats either unless you are cooking them. They're basically chopped oat groats and still include the outer husk. Also, don't use quick oats for soaking, which digest in a shorter time and won't provide the same long-lasting energy boost. The best option for soaking is rolled oats, which are actually groats that are steamed and then rolled, making them more digestible. They are available in gluten-free form (oats are not gluten-free unless processed that way), and if you can find organic, that's ideal because oats, like most grains, are commonly grown with the use of pesticides and fungicides.
My recipe: It's just soaked oats in a bowl with banana slices, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, chopped dates and a teeny amount of maple syrup. Lots of great stuff here including Omega-3 fatty acids in the walnuts and all of the fantastic vitamins and minerals found in everything, including the cinnamon, which is another neat little beneficial food. This hearty breakfast will power you for at least three or four hours, is easier to digest and will leave you feeling full but not uncomfortable. (If you have specific digestive challenges, you may not be able to process grains - your own research needed there!)
Feel free to let me know in the comment section below why you do or don't eat soaked oats! What are your favorite toppings?