Saturday, August 12, 2006

Avena sativa

Breakfast has always been one of my favourite meals – but let’s be honest, choosing between breakfast, lunch and dinner is a bit like picking your favourite child. I love them all!

About 70% of the time, oats are the key ingredient. They are perfect little “nerve pills” to help you start the day in a state of calm. But this little grain is so frequently misunderstood or misrepresented.

What do I mean? Chew on hard toasted muesli, with shards of indigestible, baked fibre coated in oil and sugar and you might give your jaw a great workout, but you aren’t doing your gut or nutrition levels any favour. Likewise the poor, raw oat, splashed with milk is as appealing as chaff.

Oats crave moisture. Not only does it soften the grain into a succulent mouthful, but it releases all the vitamins and minerals which are otherwise bound up by phytates. It is no act of chance that the Scots slowly cooked their oats to make a salty porridge, on a cold Highland morning. Nor the invention of muesli, as a mixture of oats and fruit, soaked over night in buttermilk.

For years I’d make up my own batches of muesli. In a large container I’d shake together a generous portion of oats combined with chopped nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I’d soak it in soy milk, to be greeted in the morning with a greyish concoction spiced with nuts and fruit.

However, I’ve gone a bit minimalist here at Chez Food Nazi. With so much fresh fruit, it seemed a waste to load myself up with the dried variety. I also found (thanks to a little ‘silent reflux’) that the nuts would start me coughing. So my latest ‘muesli’, is a changeable feast of sorts, sans nuts, with fruit of the day. Here’s this mornings delight.

Bircher-style soaked oats

1 large handful of rolled oats
a few dried cranberries (just because it’s my latest sweet treat)
Soy milk (or apple juice, rice milk, oat milk or even cow juice)

Soak in a covered bowl overnight, or if you have an hour to spare between waking and eating, just do it in the morning.

Before serving – grate half an apple and slice a golden kiwi*. Stir through and eat.

* Choose your favourite seasonal fruit, just 1 or 2 is enough. Passionfruit and mango in summer, fresh berries, peaches…

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so down with this post on the humble oat. Muesli is my saviour and whilst I am consistently reminded by the girly to make my own I seem to keep going for Carman's bircher onto which I throw some berries or pears or whatever I have lying around and just start spooning it into my gob!
Am also a sucker in the middle of winter for some banana porridge with a bit of cinnamon too...Yummmm!

4:21 pm  

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