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How and Why You Should Soak Your Oats



Do you regularly consume cereal grains like oatmeal for breakfast? If so, if I told you there was a simple way to improve not only the nutritional value of this warm classic breakfast but also its digestibility, would you do it?

While grains are not tolerated well by everyone, for those that can eat them, this one simple step that I want to talk to you about today, will help break down anti-nutrients and hard to digest components of the grain and at the same time, increase highly beneficial nutrients making it a much more nutrient dense food!

With a toddler in our home, oatmeal has become one of our favorite go-to breakfasts, so making it as nutrient dense as possible for her and I is very important to me since we consume it pretty regularly.

The way that you do this is by soaking the grains.

This process may sound intimidating at first if this is a new concept to you, but I promise you it is SO simple if you can just remember to plan ahead. Honestly that is the hardest part.

If you haven’t been able to tolerate grains before, you may experiment and find that you can add certain grains back in to your diet after adding in this one simple step of preparation. I will only be showing you how to properly prepare oats today, but if you want to learn more about how to properly prepare all grains, I recommend reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon or reading more on this on the Weston A. Price Foundation site.

Why should I soak my grains?

All grains and legumes contain an anti-nutrient called phytic acid. The problem with phytic acid is that it binds important vitamins and minerals and prevents your body from fully absorbing them. If not careful, an overconsumption of foods that contain a high amount of phytic acid may result in mineral deficiencies, specifically zinc, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. They also contain enzyme inhibitors. Enzymes are what help our body to digest the foods that we eat. In other words, grains and legumes are resisting being digested.

But why??

By nature’s design, grains and legumes do NOT want to be digested! That’s right! Grains are one of the hardest foods to digest, it not properly prepared.

Why is that?

Well, grains are really just seeds. Seeds are designed to grow in to a plant, but will only do this under the perfect conditions (good soil, water, air and sunlight). Until it is under these perfect conditions, it will resist digestion in order to be passed out the other end after being consumed (think in nature when animals consume seeds) to then hopefully land on good soil and be watered and nurtured by fresh rain air and sunlight to grow into whatever plant it was destined to be!

Interestingly, traditional societies took great care to soak or ferment their grains before consuming them as porridges, breads and casseroles, something our modern culture has moved away from for the sake of convenience. This traditional practice essentially aims to mimmick the watering process of seeds in nature which neutralizes vitamin and mineral binding phytic acid as well as enzyme inhibitors. The end product being a much more easy to digest food that provides vitamins and minerals your body can actually absorb!

So How Do I Soak My Oats?

If you desire to up the nutrient density and digestibility of your classic oatmeal breakfast, here is how you do it! It really is so simple.

The key in releasing important nutrients from grains is to activate phytase. Phytase is a natural enzyme that is present in varying degrees within grains, seeds and nuts. When it is activated, it helps to break down phytic acid (what binds important vitamins and minerals and prevents them from being absorbed). Soaking grains in a warm acid medium like apple cider vinegar will activate phytase and help to greatly reduce the amount of phytic acid. Oats unfortunately have a very low amount of phytase  (the enzyme that helps break down the phytic acid), so, soaking in warm water with an acid medium will not be enough on its own to adequately reduce the amount of anti-nutrients that naturally occur.

Because of this, it will be important to add another grain that IS high in phytase to your oats before you soak them and let them soak for approximately 24 hours.

You can do this by following the following formula:

  • Set your alarm to do all of this the morning before you wish to eat it. Trust me, if you don’t do this, you will forget and keep putting off this simple step because you just simply forget to do it until its too late and you don’t have a long enough time to let it soak. Just mix it all together while your preparing breakfast for that morning or right after you get done cleaning up the dishes for that mornings breakfast.
  • For every 1 cup of oats (ideally certified gluten free), add enough warm water to cover the oats
  • Add two teaspoons of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Add 1 Tablespoon of buckwheat groats (these are very high in phytase which is what will help break down the phytic acid in your oats)
  • Soak for 24 hours at room temperature. Just cover your with a towel and let it sit on your counter until the next morning.
  • Once soaking time is complete, drain oats in a fine mesh strainer and gently rinse
  • Transfer your soaked and rinsed oats to a pot on the stove and cook how you normally would and add your favorite toppings!

I recommend mixing in a good healthy source of fat like grass fed butter or coconut oil, some collagen for added protein and gut support, raw unfiltered honey and fresh berries with a dash of cinnamon! This is my personal favorite way to dress it up and add even more nutritional value.



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