We have some fabulous herbs and foods in our world that can assist us though busy times, or times of stress, and the humble oat is my first port of call today.
Oats are wonderful! In naturopathy we use oats both as a liquid herbal extract, and as a food in treating a whole host of conditions. They are warming and soothing in nature, and contain lovely amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, K, B vitamins, amino acids, and of course soluble fibre. Whoa! Traditionally, they have been used as a nervous system tonic, used for nervous debility and exhaustion, and to support an overly stressed nervous system.
Not only that, but they are well known for their effects on cholesterol management due to their soluble fibre and beta-glucan content. The beta-glucan increases the production of bile acids by the liver, which bind to cholesterol, preventing its reabsorption and it is promptly escorted out of the body. There have also been studies showing positive effects in lowering high blood pressure, and balancing blood sugar – awesome!
You can use them topically to calm irritated or itchy skin. Pop a cup of rolled oats in a clean old stocking or sock and soak in the bath with it’s milky goodness.
So pop on some porridge, make up some muesli, or whip up some oat milk! Oat milk is a great alternative for those not eating dairy, and it’s nice to make your own to avoid the vegetable oils and what not that comes with the shop bought varieties. Plus it’s loads cheaper! It may not have the protein profile of a nut milk, but it is still full of nutrients and has a richer taste compared to some other nut milks. I have used oat groats (the unhulled grain), rather than any processed form of oats, to gain the greatest nutrient benefit and flavour. This recipe works just the same with steel cut oats or rolled oats in their place if you are pressed for time – just skip the cooking part of the recipe. Don’t use quick oats.
I also like to include a nut, today it’s macadamia, to boost the protein and good fat profile.
Here’s what to do.
Vanilla Oat and Macadamia Milk
Makes a scant litre of oat milk
1/4 cup oat groats
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half and seeds scraped out
1 – 2 tsp maple syrup or honey (optional)
1/8-1/4 cup macadamia nuts, unsalted and, if you can, soaked for about 2 hours
3 cups pure water
Soak the oat groats overnight, rinse and add to a small saucepan. Cover with water, add the vanilla pod (not the seeds) and simmer until cooked (usually 30-40 minutes).
Drain and allow to cool.
Add the oat groats to a blender with the macadamias and 3 cups of water. Blend until smooth, then pour into a bowl through some muslin/cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. (I bought one of these last year and they are the bomb – I love it! I have also used it for sprouting. I bought mine from my local health food shop, but you can also get them online). Squeeze out all the milk you can and set your pulp aside. Strain the milk for a second time to achieve a super smooth result.
Whisk the vanilla seeds and maple syrup into the strained milk. Taste at this point and adjust as needed. You may like to add a pinch of sea salt, and if you are using this for baking not drinking, you may not need a sweetener at all.
Transfer to a glass air tight container and store in the fridge, it will last you between 3 and 5 days. The milk will settle a bit, so shake before use. You can play around with the amount of water that you add to this recipe – the less you add, the richer and ‘creamier’ the milk will be.
What to do with the pulp? How about these babies –
You can use the pulp in place of any nut flour in almost any baking/bread/biscuit recipe, but I thought I’d make some little truffles for fun. They are incredibly versatile, and you can adapt it to what you have in the cupboard. I have used a number of ‘superfoods’. I always feel a little funny saying superfoods, because I do subscribe to the idea that all food has the potential to be super, if we buy it in season, at its best, and prepare it properly. But you can’t deny the fabulousness of spirulina, cacao, coconut butter, maca and the like. Mix and match as you like.
Crunchy Superfood Truffles
Left over oat/nut pulp (around 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup nut butter (I used almond)
1/4 cup activated buckwheat (or sunflower seeds)
2 tbs raw cacao
1/2 tbs coconut butter
1/2 tsp (or more if you can handle it!) of spirulina
2 tsp maca powder
1 tbs maple syrup or honey
Bee pollen and sesame seeds for rolling (other options might be coconut, goji berries, chia seeds)
Mix all ingredients together and shape tablespoon sized portions into balls. Roll in bee pollen and sesame seeds (or chosen garnish). This amount makes about 5-6 truffles.
Refrigerate to firm up a little and enjoy! x