Alright you guys, here’s the post you’ve all been asking me to write for months: How To Make Soaked Oat Porridge.
Confetti! Glitter! Balloons! Kittens!
Does that appropriately capture your enthusiasm? Too much? Well, it sums up how I feel about sharing this process and recipe(s) with you because soaked oat porridge is one of my go-to breakfasts. Seriously, I have days where I have to literally force myself to eat something else, like say my green smoothie bowl. And while I know soaked oat porridge (or overnight oats as they are also called) is not a new concept, you may be surprised to learn that the benefits of soaking oats extend far beyond saving time in the morning.
First let’s talk about the problem with whole grains like oats and then how to overcome said problems and get the most nutrients out of ’em via soaking.
THE PROBLEM WITH OATS & WHOLE GRAINS
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Did I just say there was a problem with whole grains—the food that so many health aficionados advocate including in our diet? Yeah I did, but suspend judgement for a moment and let’s delve into the science.
Whole grains contain a substance called phytic acid, an anti-nutrient and the storage form of phosphorus. It’s called an anti-nutrient because it combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc in your intestines and blocks their absorption (not cool!). Oats have higher levels of phytates than other grains and this is one of the reasons they and other whole grains have gotten a bad rap lately, especially among avid paleo and Whole 30 followers.
Additionally, whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors that make it more difficult for your body to breakdown and process the nutrients found in the grain. This can lead to digestive woes, inflammation, and eventually leaky gut if enough undigested food particles irritate the lining of digestive tract and make their way into the bloodstream.
Obviously, oats have loads of health benefits so don’t confuse my spiel for a campaign against them. After all, I did say I eat bowls of this stuff on the reg, remember?
IT’S NOT ALL GLOOM AND DOOM
Oats are rich sources of B vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. They are higher in fiber than any other grain—specifically beta-glucan. This type of fiber is what’s responsible for binding with cholesterol in the blood and removing it from the body (i.e. the reason so many health aficionados and professionals recommend including whole grains for heart health). Beta-glucan also helps blunt blood sugar spikes when compared with other starches like white rice or bread. The slow digesting carbohydrates in oats make them a perfect fuel source for a pre- or post-workout meal.
So how can you reap the most benefits from oats? Great question! There are three processes to make grains more digestible: soak, ferment, or sprout. Each of these is quite different so for the sake of not putting you to sleep, I’ll cover fermenting and sprouting in future posts.
THE SOLUTION: SOAK YOUR OATS
The process of soaking grains is a method that has been used by traditional societies for hundreds of years to make grains more nutritious and easier to digest. Our anatomy is why digesting grains is often more difficult. While many plant and grain-eating animals have four stomachs and very long intestinal tracts, we only have one stomach and a much shorter tract. This means that our guts have less time to breakdown grains, which require a lot of lactobacilli to digest.
Lactobacilli is a genus of bacteria and various strains help digest food, produce vitamins, and facilitate digestion. By letting grains soak overnight in a warm environment, we are giving the friendly bacteria a chance to do some of the digestive work ahead of time.
HOW TO MAKE BASIC SOAKED OATS
To properly soak oats, you need to have five things:
- Warm filtered water (it should be pretty warm—heat in the microwave if needed)
- Acidic medium (whey, lemon juice apple cider vinegar, organic buttermilk or kefir)
- Time (a minimum of 12 hours, preferably 24 hours)
- Glass container or jar
- Sea salt
Measure out 1/3 cup oats (heaping) and place in a glass container.
Fill with 2/3 cup filtered water and add your acidic medium. For every 1/3 cup oats, you’ll add about 1 tablespoon of acidic medium. Also add the sea salt.
Cover container and leave in a warm, ambient location for 12-24 hours. I like to leave ours right by the stove or on the stovetop so that heat from the oven will later help speed up the soaking process.
If you do this before bed, you’ll have a new batch of freshly prepared soaked oats ready to go everyday. I like to let mine soak at least 24 hours so I simply start my next batch as I’m eating breakfast. You can also prepare a few servings to soak at a time, but don’t leave them soaking for more than 48 hours or your oats will start to turn into more of a science experiment. After 48 hours, pop them in the fridge and they can continue to soak for up to five days.
Soaked oats can be eaten without cooking further, although I prefer to heat them add egg whites because it really elevates the texture—not to mention adds a boost of protein, which is always a good idea when eating starchy carbohydrates. To keep it super simple, here’s my top reasons why you should soak your oats.
4 REASONS WHY I SOAK MY OATS (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO!)
1. It makes them easier to digest.
As I said, soaking grains overnight neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, essentially pre-digesting them and making their nutrients more readily available. If you are someone who has a hard time digesting grains or who has intolerances or allergies to them, you may find that you are able to eat them without discomfort when properly soaked. And even if you don’t, it’s
2. It saves a lot of time.
Soaked oat take less than half the time to cook compared to dry oats. Preparing a bowl of soaked oat porridge with dry oats will take about 20-30 minutes on the stovetop, whereas you’ll spend about 5 minutes doing so after soaking first for 12-24 hours.
3. Cold or room temperature oats are higher in resistant starch.
If I’m pressed for time in the morning, I’ll skip the stovetop preparation and eat cold or room temperature overnight oats in a jar. And even if I’m not in a hurry, I often allow my oats to cool completely before eating them to increase the resistant starch content. Resistant starch is what feeds the healthy bacteria in our guts, helping to maintain our immune system and optimize our digestion.
4. The recipe options are endless!
Once you master basic soaked oats, which will take you all of 30 seconds, the creativity begins. You can stir in any type of fruit, spices, sweeteners (although I would recommend using natural sources like stevia, honey, or maple syrup if anything), nuts, nut butters, coconut butter (my favorite), ghee or butter, dried fruit, chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, goji berries—and so on!
Here’s two of my favorite flavor combinations to get you started…Soaked Oat Porridge With Berries and Coconut Butter Drizzle & Soaked Oat Porridge With Figs, Almonds, and Honey Drizzle. Mmmm.
// RECIPE No. 1 //
SOAKED OAT PORRIDGE WITH BERRIES & COCONUT MANNA DRIZZLE
Serves: 1 | Prep time: 24 hours soaking overnight| Cook time: 10 minutes
1/3 cup gluten-free, old fashioned rolled oats, pre-soaked (follow soaking steps outlined above in post)
2/3 cup filtered water or nut milk of choice
Dash of sea salt
1/2 small granny smith apple, diced (1/4 of apple if it’s a really large one…this adds a nice crunchy texture but can be omitted if you choose)
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
1 stevia packet (I only like the flavor of this brand)
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
5-6 berries (strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries are all great and low in sugar)
2 tsp coconut manna (a.k.a coconut butter a.k.a. LIFE; I use this brand)
1 tbs walnuts, chopped
cinnamon to taste (I obviously use heaps)
- Take pre-soaked oats and pour into a small pot/saucepan.
- Add more filtered water, diced apples, frozen or fresh blueberries, stevia (could substitute for 1 tsp honey or maple syrup if you don’t like stevia), vanilla extract, sea salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and stir vigorously. Add cinnamon and continue stirring until the oats are slightly thickened and some of the H2O is evaporated.
- Remove pot from heat and allow oats to cool for a few minutes. It’s important to let the oats cool a little bit before adding the eggs, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg whites in your oats. If it happens, it’s not the end of the world but definitely not as delicious! It’s OK for the cooked oats to still be hot/warm, just not boiling hot.
- While oats are cooling, crack eggs in a small bowl, whisk with a fork and add to oats, stirring to incorporate.
- Once eggs are well mixed into oats, gently heat over low to medium heat for another minute or so, continuing to stir vigorously until small air bubbles appear on the surface. The oats should be really thick and fluffy!
- Remove pot from heat and pour oats into a bowl. Add chopped walnuts, fresh raspberries and blackberries, and drizzle with coconut manna.
Enjoy the best, fluffiest, most filling and nourishing bowl of oats EVER!
- Because nuts also contain anti-nutrients, try soaking them along with your oats to reduce the phytic acid content.
- Oats are also naturally gluten free as long as they aren’t grown near wheat-producing farms. In such cases, there is a risk of cross contamination. Make sure to purchase oats with a certified gluten free label (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s), if you try to avoid gluten.
- You can prepare the soaked egg white oats a few days ahead and keep covered in the fridge. I like to prepare a big batch on Sunday morning and eat it throughout the week! Simply multiply the recipe by as many servings as you’d like and take care to use a larger pot—the oats will really quadruple in size once cooked. Seriously 1/3 cup dry oats will yield about 2 1/2 cup cooked oats with egg whites. It’s pure magic.
- Vitamin C also helps increase phytase activity (the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid rendering it inactive) so including fruit high in vitamin C with your oat porridge may also be helpful. Good sources are fruits like strawberries, kiwis, and citrus.
- To boost the protein without using eggs, try hemp hearts, nut butter, or a high quality plant-based protein powder. If you tolerate dairy, you could add whole fat organic yogurt. Whole fat has less sugar and contains more enzymes to help breakdown the lactose…Not to mention fat helps with satiety!
// RECIPE No. 2 //
SOAKED OAT PORRIDGE WITH FIGS, ALMONDS + HONEY DRIZZLE
See previous recipe for ingredients; omitting stevia and blueberries.
Add 1/2 tbs of chia seeds to oats as they soak for a crazy fluff factor
1-2 fresh figs (tiger stripe and mission figs shown here)
1 tsp organic, grass-fed ghee
1 tsp almonds, raw unsalted, chopped
2 tsp raw organic local honey
Prepare oats as instructed in previous recipe (adding chia seeds during soaking process or directly to pot with soaked oats) and top with sliced figs, almonds, ghee, and drizzle with honey. Enjoy!
So there you have it! Soak your oats for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption regardless of whether or not you think you have digestive issues. Everyone can truly benefit from this process, as it’s such a huge time saver, not to mention crazy simple.
Soaked oats are quick, energizing, nourishing, and when given a boost from protein and healthy fats, super filling. Now because I KNOW everyone has their own favorite spin on oatmeal and porridge, I’d love to hear how you like to top yours! Comment below and tell us, what’s your favorite way to make oats?
Favorite toppings? I want to hear it all, especially deets on your favorite drizzle. Because let’s be real, I eat soaked oat porridge solely for that coconut manna drizzle. It is LIFE.