Do you soak your oats? After my midwife turned me onto Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I began the habit of soaking oats, and walnuts, and pecans too (but that is another post)!

The process of soaking oats and grains (including rice) was very common world wide for nearly all cultures before industrialization. Soaking oats allows enzymes to break down and neutralize phytic acid found in the outer layer of the oat. If the phytic acid remains untreated it blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. A diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.

All that you need to soak oats are water, oats and time. In a glass bowl put as much oats that you will need and cover with water, just enough to cover them. You can also add a pinch of salt, or if you can eat dairy, you can use whey. Then cover the bowl and let sit on the kitchen counter over night. In the morning cook them as usual, but with less liquid as you will see they become very soft.

My two favorite ways of eating soaked oats are in Bircher Muesli and what I call, Morning Custard. Bircher Muesli was introduced to me by our friend’s mother, Pia, in California. Pia is Swiss and was known in the family for her wonderful muesli. It is not the kind of muesli that comes in a box filled with dried fruits and nuts in the cereal isle. Oh no, Pia’s Bircher Muesli is a wonderfully satisfying and refreshing treat to eat at any meal. She uses a food processor with a shredder attachment to cut up all of her ingredients, even the grapes! I highly suggest you use this method if you have the shredder attachment. But I have sadly lost my shredder attachment, so I just chop up all of the fruit as small as I can.

It is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to add or subtract which ever fruits you and your family enjoy the best, or use what ever is in season. My favorite ingredients are a mixture of pineapple, strawberries and plenty of fresh orange juice. My Bircher Muesli always contains these ingredients. The original Swiss Bircher Muesli used sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Pia’s recipe also included lemon juice, so feel free to add that to yours.

My second way of eating soaked oats is in what I call, Morning Custard. I found this idea a couple of years ago, just after Lua was born and am still making it. You cook oatmeal then add eggs right at the end to create a wonderfully creamy and satisfying bowl of oatmeal, which to me resembles a warm winter custard. Perfect for this time of year. Try it, you’ll love it!

Bircher Muesli

1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup rice milk
1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
3 apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
3 oranges
1 package of strawberries, rinsed with stems removed
1 bunch of green grapes, halved
1 bunch of red grapes, halved

Place oats at the bottom of a large bowl, add rice milk, cover and place in the refrigerator over night. In the morning add the chopped pineapple and apples. With 2 of the oranges, halve and squeeze juice over fruit. With the last orange slice off both ends and using a small sharp knife to remove the rind and white pith. Then chop orange and add to fruit. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to make a large batch, it goes quickly!

Morning Custard
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup water
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
raw honey or maple syrup

Place oats and water in a bowl, cover and let sit on the counter over night. Place two eggs in a bowl (still in shell) and let sit over night, also to come to room temperature. If you forgot to do this (which I have MANY times) in the morning just place eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes and they will be good to go. In the morning add a bit more water to a small pot and add soaked oats. Cook over medium heat until cooked, it really only takes a couple of minutes because they are so soft from all the soaking. Once they are cooked, turn off heat. Crack eggs in a separate bowl and whisk, then add egg mixture to cooked oats. Stir quickly and place back on low heat for just a couple of minutes. Add the coconut oil, cinnamon and vanilla and serve warm. I love raw honey and walnuts on mine, but add whatever you like best. Enjoy!