Our classic breakfast is a green smoothy followed by oatmeal. It might sound like just an average thing, but we love these so much that we look forward to it every morning. Our oatmeal is simple, yet surprisingly delicious, nourishing, grounding, and uplifting. There are, in fact, reasons for this deliciousness, which is the mindful care I have developed over the years. I paid attention to each step in the making of the bowl of oatmeal to make it more delicious and nourishing—in flavor, texture, and energy. So I want to share this with you today, hoping you will like to try some of these steps, if not all of them!
First, let’s talk about how nutritional the oats are. Oats are gluten-free and also anti-oxidant, as well as anti-inflammatory, which is gentle on our digestive system. The grain has much fiber, is packed with vitamins and minerals, and has good amounts of protein. It is lower in calories, yet nicely satisfying. It has a moistening nature which can beautifully nurture our body and energy. It’s one of the perfect grains to have in the morning to nourish, ground, and vitalize us.
Rolling the oats by yourself!
This is one of the luxuries I feel I have in my life, to have the oat/grain flaker. In 2015, when I was visiting my friends in Switzerland, I was introduced to this wonderful tool by them, and I fell in love with it. I had been using and appreciating the grain grinder for many years, but to be able to roll the grains by myself was not what I had known. What a wonderful thing to make your own fresh rolled grains!! Like the milled flour can get more and more oxidized as you keep in your pantry (and even in your fridge), so it is with the rolled oats, too. To receive the maximum nutrients of the grain, eating freshly rolled oats is the best way to have them. Also, it changes your relationship with the rolled oats, when you roll the grain by yourself. We can truly experience and appreciate that they are coming from the oat grains. This has definitely transformed my experience of eating oatmeal. Rolling the oats is a beautiful ritual to prepare the meal for the next morning, which will nourish the body at the start of a new day.
Soaking overnight changes everything
As I just mentioned, the oats are rolled the night before the breakfast so that they can be soaked in water overnight. This extra process is very important not only for the better flavor but even more so for the digestion. Oats are a highly nutritional food, including their high fiber content. And this fiber is quite coarse. Therefore, eating oats as it is could well stress our digestive system, especially if you have a sensitive one. Soaking is a wonderful way to allow the fiber to get softer, hence it can get broken down while cooking. You feel it when you eat, how gently it feels to your stomach. The easier digestion also allows the body to absorb the nutrients effectively. That’s why I highly recommend you to soak the rolled oats overnight!
And the taste changes too, when you soak them. As the oats ferment during the soaking hours, it becomes so much more flavorful when you cook them in the morning. It’s just like cooking rice or any other grains. The power of soaking is truly magical.
Choice of the pot is the final game changer!
As you can see in my article “The Essentials of Cooking Rice,” the flavor as well as texture of cooked grains differ significantly depending on what kind of pot you use. Here, the same thing can be said for cooking oatmeal. When we got Le Creuset’s grain pot last year and cooked the oatmeal for the first time, we were amazed how delicious our oatmeal was. The cast iron pot can heat up and cook the oats so differently from a stainless pot. Its quality of heat is much stronger and thorough, which can the fiber break down better. And with its heavy lid, all the energy is contained within the pot without any leakage, which is where the magical alchemy occurs.
This always reminds me of the Japanese 重ね煮 (kasaneni) layered cooking method, where you layer the ingredients in the pot in the order from yin to yang energy, then put the lid on and cook them without any interference. The idea is to allow the nature do its own process, by letting the flavor and energy of all the ingredients merge and blend by themselves. And it truly does, surprisingly. I believe the similar thing is happening with the oatmeal. Under the heavy cast iron lid, the water and the grain merge and transform into something magically delicious.
The Le Creuset’s grain pot is even more special than a usual cast iron pot. Due to its round shape at the bottom, the grains will circulate by themselves in the pot, and this self-mixing movement makes it even more delicious.
Sprouting does make a difference
It is one extra step that requires some effort and time, but I feel and taste it is absolutely worth it. Actually, not to the degree that I would see each oat grain sprouting, but I use the oat grains only once I have washed and soaked them overnight, and then dehydrated them. This extra process allows the grains to release their enzyme inhibitor and activate themselves. It makes the grains easier to digest (you feel its lightness) and more flavorful!
Regulating the heat depending on the season and your body’s condition
Although it’s just cooking rolled oats in a pot, it can bring quite a different texture, energy, and flavor due to how they are cooked. This is my standard way of cooking oatmeal: I soak the oats with flaxseeds overnight in the grain pot, and the following morning, I turn on the heat to cook them. Once it starts boiling, I bring the heat down to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then I let it sit for another 10 minutes, and it’s ready to be served.
Depending on the climate and our body’s feeling, I would, however, modulate this process. For example, when we have the foggy and cold morning (which is quite often the case where we live), I feel the need for more heat and less moisture, since there is enough moisture and coldness outside which could affect our body’s feeling of cold heaviness. This climate condition can be relevant to the springtime for many of you. In order to balance, I would cook the oatmeal with a little higher heat for 10 minutes after boiling rather than simmering. Through adding more energy of fire, it will bring more heat as well as dryness to the oatmeal which would warm and uplift the body.
Or if you are in the hot environment, it might be helpful to cook the oats with a little more water and simmer with very low heat for 10 minutes once it started boiling. The extra water as well as less heat will bring cooling and moistening effect to the intense heat that the body is experiencing.
Through being attentive to the environment that we are living in as well as the condition of our body, we can be flexible and creative with cooking this simple oatmeal. I believe you will feel the results beautifully.
Lastly, the topping
The bottom line for me is that it is very delicious just eating the oats plain. We don’t pour on top or cook with any kind of milk, but we often like eating with some dried and/or fresh fruits. One of the classics is eating with marinated prunes, which is absolutely delicious (recipe coming soon). In the picture, we had also banana and seasonal strawberries added. Fresh fruits can add freshness in flavor as well as beautiful color. Sometimes, I like also mixing with mashed banana. Eating with some coconut oil is also lovely. I make some spices or herbs for it sometimes too, but that will be another article.
May we enjoy our breakfast that nourishes our body at the start of a new day!