Sally Fallon's Irish Oatmeal

I still have some oats that I bought last fall from Kevin, the grain farmer from Shakefork Community Farm in Humboldt County. These are the same oats I used for the oat cakes I made in October. They're whole oats, and they look very different than the rolled oats many of us are used to. I've been meaning to use these for a long time, and finally this week I did! (or at least some of them, I've still got about a quart in my pantry.)

I'm a big fan of Sally Fallon, the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, but I had never made her traditional Irish oatmeal recipe - I usually opt for eggs at breakfast time. I had some yogurt whey left over from my latest batch of ginger ale, and it's a vital ingredient, so I decided to try it.

Sally Fallon is a big proponent of soaking your whole grains before use. You can find a lot of the reasons why here. She points out that whole grains contain antinutrients (most notably phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors) that detract considerably from their nutritional benefits. Here's a quote from the Weston A. Price Foundation website:

Most of these antinutrients are part of the seed's system of preservation—they prevent sprouting until the conditions are right. Plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in order to sprout. Proper preparation of grains is a kind and gentle process that imitates the process that occurs in nature. It involves soaking for a period in warm, acidulated water in the preparation of porridge, or long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of bread. Such processes neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

So, the key is to soak your cereals in a slightly acidic water solution. Many of the recipes in Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions use water and a little bit of yogurt whey.

Before I started the oats soaking I had to process them a bit. I cooked them in a 350 degree oven for just about 5 minutes, until they seemed a bit more golden in color and were fragrant. Then I processed them in the food processor to cut them a bit. You don't want to process them too much - the object is not to have oat flour, but steel cut oats.

I soaked two cups of oats in four cups of water and about 1/4 cup yogurt whey. The recipe says to soak them from 7-24 hours, so I started them mid-day on Sunday for Monday's breakfast. Here's what they looked like early Monday morning. Not very appetizing!

I put them in a saucepan and started them cooking.....

They cooked up very quickly - in just about 8 minutes they were the perfect oatmeal consistency.

I ate my oatmeal with some local sorghum syrup and homemade butter. I could really taste the sour flavor from the whey - it was quite different from any oatmeal I'd ever had, but I enjoyed it, and it kept me going strong all morning, which is what breakfast should do!

It's odd - I just reread the recipe below and realised that I didn't use the additional water for cooking. I simply dumped the oats and water I used to soak them in into a pot and cooked it. I guess I'm not the greatest at following directions at 6 in the morning! It still turned out great......

Irish Oatmeal
From Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

1 cup whole oats
2 cups warm filtered water
3 Tablespoons whey, yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk (or if severe mild allergies substitute lemon juice or vinegar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups filtered water

Place oats on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until they turn light brown. Process roasted oats to a medium grind in a home grinder. Soak from 7-24 hours in a warm place in 2 cups warm water with the fermenting agent (whey, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, vinegar, or lemon juice.) Bring additional 2 cups water and sea salt to a boil, add soaked oatmeal and cook over very low heat stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.

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  1. Yeah, it's always best to strain off the soaking liquid and rinse with filtered water before cooking. But hey, you'll get it next time!

  2. "Nourishing Traditions" is on its way via Amazon, but I had some oat groats on hand and couldn't wait. I'm a Paleo fan so this won't be something I eat every day, but wow - whole oats have such a great "weight" to them. Miles beyond instant oatmeal.


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