Today's post explains the simple process of soaking grains. Wolves In Sheep's Clothing fully explains the need for this method of grain preparation and in our home, other than the slow fermentation method used in creating sourdough starter and the long-rise period required for authentic sourdough breads, this is the method of grain preparation most often used. This is true only because our mornings don't generally allow a lot of time for meal preparations, so we save the bigger breakfasts for Saturdays. During the week, however, we usually eat either oatmeal or farina, ('Cream of Wheat' is the name by which many know farina), hard boiled eggs w/sourdough toast, or maybe a good slice of raw cheese melted on sourdough toast.
Although it is perfectly natural for many animals, like cows, to eat whole grains raw, man is not created to do this. So, although there is much ado about eating 'raw' foods, we'd be wise to follow the traditions of our forefathers by excluding raw grains from our diets. The scientific principles behind this are outlined in my last post, but perhaps the easiest route of explanation is to remind that the cow has three stomachs while mankind has but one. In fact, any animal that chews the cud has other means of digestion that man lacks. Chewing the cud in itself is something man does not do, yet the act aids the simplest rabbit in the art of digesting grasses.
When man attempts to do the same, we do so at risk to our digestive system and every system affected by the digestive system...ie: all of them. Thus, as infants, we may develop colic. As children, tummy aches. As adults, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, etc. Are non-soaked grains the only cause of such problems? Did I say that? I did not. But whole grains that have not undergone the process of mimicked germination can cause any of these problems and certainly contributes to them. Many factors come into play, as with all things pertaining to health...genetics, for one. However, no evolution of a second or third stomach has, as yet taken place. (Don't hold your breath).
There are two major reasons to pre-process grains before eating them. The first is the fact given above...We need another stomach to 'do it right'. The second is contained in my last post: The wholesomeness of grains cannot be released without germination, therefore, germination must be mimicked. Along with this, it is becoming more widely understood that there are particular substances within the grain that are only removed during germination. These substances, if not removed, interfere with and block absorption of all the wonderful nutrients found in grains.
In the past, before mass production and combines, wheat and other grains would be gathered and stacked in the field. You may recall paintings depicting this. Those were the grains used by the local populace and by the time they arrived in the home, they had endured rain, dew and sun and for the most part, they had germinated. The blocking substance (phytic acid) found in grain, as well as enzyme inhibitors, protect the grain until germination. Phytase, the good enzyme indwelling grains, is only released during germination. This is the enzyme that specifically helps our digestive system absorb/digest the nutrients of that particular grain. (It is an awesomely interesting fact that every food known to man has its very own enzyme that aides in its digestion.)
So, man has never possessed the extra stomach needed to help in the proper digestion of grains, and today, due to the marvels of the industrial age, he is not provided with grains ready for consumption. Fortunately, we can hearken to the wise food traditions of our non-industrialized great-grandparents as well as well-nourished people groups world-wide who have never known the benefits of industrialization. Seemingly via intuition, all of them developed ways to make grains more friendly towards the human gut. The methods require the use of an 'external stomach', namely a pot, pan, or bowl and an acid that mimics digestive juices in action.
I have learned of two very good methods for preparing breakfast grains and both work equally as well. Both use two essential ingredients: time and acid. For maximum nourishment, the acid should be whey (not the powdered kind), yogurt, kefir or buttermilk. These are all dairy products and in the forms given here, are full of beneficial 'critters' for the intestine. However, those with severe milk allergies may use vinegar (try coconut vinegar), or lemon juice.
The basic amount, which would serve 3-4, is 1 Cup cereal, such as rolled or steel-cut oats, to 1 Cup filtered water. To this, add 2-4 T of the acid. (See last paragraph.) For next morning ease, mix this in the same pan you plan to cook it in, allowing for the addition of another cup of water just before cooking.
Cover the pot with a tea towel-you can secure with a rubber band if you feel more comfortable with that. Soak this 'porridge' in a warm place overnight. (I mix ours up right after dinner clean-up.) The 'warm place' we use is the closed oven with the light on. The next morning, add another Cup of water and 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, stir well, bring just to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer. It will be ready in less than 5 minutes.
The other way to do this is to soak the cereal in the acid starting the morning before you want to eat it. Do not refrigerate, but just leave it covered at room temperature in a warm place...the top of the fridge or in an oven with the light on is fine. Before bed, drain and rinse-I use a fine mesh colander. (This method is particularly good for those who may not like the extra little bit of zing the acid can add to the taste of the cereal.)
Now put the soaked cereal in a small, lightly greased crock pot, preferably one with a low setting. Add 1Cup of milk, (preferably raw, or try organic coconut milk for a spectacular flavor), 2 Tbs. butter and 2 C. of filtered water. Cook on low overnight and when you waken in the morning, it will be ready to eat! For the same reason some like programmable coffee and tea pots, this method is great for those wanting to eat, but not cook, first thing in the morning.(I must admit, once I discovered this method, I haven't used the other.)
Whichever method you choose for preparation, when it's ready, get your creative juices flowing and customize it. Add honey, butter, coconut oil/milk, cream, raw milk, walnuts/pecans/almonds, blueberries, real maple syrup, vanilla, chopped apples or dates, or even a spoonful of organic/homemade peanut butter...You get the idea. It will be so delicious that even your guests will enjoy it. Our latest guest, who rarely eats oatmeal, commented on the 'smorgasborg' of additions we provided, and ate every bite of her steel cut oats with gusto. Needless to say, both of us were well satisfied.
If there are leftovers, there's no need to leave your porridge in the pot until it's nine days old...No, save it in the fridge until you're ready for it, add a little milk and an egg or two until it's the consistency of thick pancakes. Ladle onto a hot, well-greased griddle, then turn the heat to medium or even a little lower, and cook your oatcakes until done on both sides. It takes a bit longer than pancakes, so be patient and be sure not to cook too high, too fast! Scrumptious with a bit of butter and real maple syrup!
Next Post: Prepping Nuts