A few years ago when i first read somewhere online that in addition to his morning big bowl, Rip Esselstyn often eats a bowl of oats before bed, I felt like I had been given permission to eat more oats. Then I read in a thread on the McDougall discussion board that for some people eating oats at night helps ensure their cholesterol numbers will be lower in the morning. It sounded kind of like knowing how to manipulate the urine sample for a drug test, and it made me laugh.
But maybe scrubbing the arteries out with a little oat scrub at night is not such a crazy idea. And if you like oats as much as I do, well, then it’s pretty good news.
Still, there are complications. If you need to be gluten-free, be sure to find gluten-free oat products. If oats themselves are too tough for you, then I wish you well in finding a more suitable night time snack.
Or should I say dessert. I wanted something a little treat-like I could eat as dessert, but that wouldn’t give me the awful effects regular desserts made with sugar end up delivering. And I wanted something a little bit different than more rolled oats.
This interest came about at the same time I began trying to sprout nearly everything in sight, and a Carrie On Vegan post about sprouted oat groat cereal came to mind. Carrie recommends using raw, gluten-free oats for her recipe, which is a wise choice for many of us. But I remembered that a year ago when Everything Came Up Roses in Portland and I was able to attend the Vida Vegan Conference (where I first heard of Carrie and her blog), my son and (now) daughter-in-law and I made an outing to the Bob’s Red Mill store, where I was treated to a 25 lb bag of gluten free oats. I also picked out a small package of oat groats, since I’d read somewhere on the internet (I think in a fascinating NYT magazine article about gut health research–maybe this one by Michael Pollan) that oat groats are especially good to our guts. But when I got home I realized why the person checking us through had made the peculiar face he made when he rang up this small bag. They weren’t gluten free. Although I am not celiac, I wasn’t sure if I should take the chance, so they sat in my cupboard for a long time.
When I’m not sure how to proceed, I use the internet like a big encyclopedia (which is one of the many reason why I am a proponent of net neutrality). I typed in raw oat groats to see what would come up besides Carrie’s recipe, just to give me the lay of oat groat land, and I found Rawfully Tempting’s Fabulous Living Oatmeal. Besides offering an intriguing recipe using raw oat groats, it gives a good explanation of how oat groats are processed and that some are steamed, some have hulls and some don’t. It seems likely that the ones I got at Bob’s were not raw, and thus would not sprout. So using them for Carrie’s recipe was out. But even if they weren’t raw, I could still experiment with using them to make this uncooked oatmeal. And I’m really glad I did.
I didn’t notice much trouble, but nevertheless I decided to spring for the raw gluten free ones so I could compare. They are softer, and, for me, a bit easier to digest. I can sprout them if I want. But even though I truly have been sprouting nearly everything in sight, this living oatmeal tastes so good, I still haven’t gotten past using it raw in this recipe. So I’ve yet to discover what the sprouted oat groats taste like. Something to look forward to, when the spirit moves me.
Here’s what I got, the same kind Carrie recommends:
One language oriented caveat from this literal gal, that also leaks a little bit into an ethical sticking point: it seems oddly and perhaps inappropriately funny to me that there is such fine distinction in the Rawfully Tempting recipe about which oat groats are truly living and which are not, when whichever kind you use end up being literally pulverized in the food processor. If they were living before that, I’m hard pressed to see how they could survive such treatment. This contradiction is another one of life’s irritating mysteries concerning how hard it is to be absolute about anything. I tried to get at this impasse in the following sonnet from my chapbook If A Sparrow. By no means do I intend to be making light of my commitment, or anyone else’s commitment, to eat and live in as much harmony with all creatures as possible. It’s just that the road to greater awareness of the consciousness and sensibility of living beings is infinitely complicated.
Sun falling onto the kitchen counter
is thick as paint and if paint had a sound
it might be a seal embracing itself
like a quiet I feel enclosing me
that turns solitude into entropy.
At the center of it I hold a carrot
to the cutting board. The orange root rages
with color but keeps the silence with me.
Some science says that carrots scream
when picked and cut open, but it’s a violence
we can’t hear. That we mostly don’t listen
to the kind we can hear is enough to
numb against such startling intricacy,
such pale grief, its own ghost, haunting my knife.
Literally living or not by the time you eat it, this version of oatmeal is delicious. And though I think it’s meant to be a single serving, I like to eat a little bit of it at a time for dessert. The groats, naked or not, raw or not, steamed or not, are even more filling than conventional oatmeal, as is the dried fruit and the few pumpkin seeds. And of course it’s delicious with other fruit, or no nuts or seeds, or different spices. So get curious and see what it’s like to let your oatmeal live. Or at least let you taste buds live it up while you enjoy this unique version of an old classic, and ponder the complexities of ethical awareness.
Living Oatmeal–for Breakfast or Dessert
3/4 cup of oat groats (gluten-free if needed, raw and naked if desiered), soaked in about 3 cups of water for 24 hours
1 tablespoon of homemade date paste or maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
3 tablespoons of almond milk or other non dairy milk
1/2 tsp of good vanilla extract
Soak the oat groats in about 3 times their amount in water (so about 3 cups) in a bowl or a quart jar for 24 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Put the soaked oat groats, date paste, almond milk and vanilla in the food processor bowl with the oats. Process until the oats are mostly ground up. Spoon some into a small dish. Garnish with cut up strawberry, a sprinkling of raisins, a few pumpkin seeds and an extra splash of almond milk.
Carob or chocolate ginger version: Spoon some processed oat groat mixture into a small dish. Add a splash of almond milk. Add a tablespoon or even 2 tablespoons of carob of cocoa powder and a liberal sprinkling of powdered ginger. You can also sprinkle with dehydrated buckwheat groats if you have them. Also excellent with a little orange zest added in. Mix it all together with a spoon until it is a deep carob or chocolate clump. Enjoy every mouthful.
If you go check out the Rawfully Tempting recipe, you’ll see that she uses more pumpkin seeds and walnuts, and that she processes the pumpkin seeds with the oat groats together in the food processor, and then adds some of the raisins and walnuts to be processed as well. I wanted a lower fat version with less pulverizing, so I left out the walnuts and just used a few pumpkin seeds as garnish. You could use either one, or both.
If you read my blog faithfully, you may have noticed the presence of a few foods that were not on my “Sure Things” list a while back. I’m happy to report that in small amounts, I seem to be able to eat strawberries and even oranges. Haven’t sat down for a big bowl of them together quite yet, but in small amounts among other things, as in this living oatmeal, it’s full steam ahead. I’m very happy about that. I’ve also learned that the buckwheat groats don’t give my gut as much to say if I soak and dehydrate, or soak and sprout them first. With that treatment, they are definitely back on my Sure Things list. It’s a pleasure to welcome these old favorites back into my meals.