Winter recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal was originally published to my other blog, Canadianfoodiegirl.com, on February 27, 2014. This is one of my favourite posts ever from that site.
An update: I've recently discovered Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats. They are ready in under 10 minutes, stove top. I found them at Costco when they were being sampled. Online you can buy them at well.ca.
So, you can choose overnight (steel cut) oatmeal, which smells delicious in the morning but requires planning, or the quick cooking steel cut oats, which cook while you shower.
Several years ago I went through a phase during which I’d make steel cut oats in my slow cooker once a week using Alton Brown’s Overnight Oatmeal recipe as a guideline (rather than a strict instruction) and portioning it out to make 4 servings last for 5 work days.
Recently I started making it again but with a half recipe each day for the two of us so that it’s fresh each day. Throwing the ingredients in the slow cooker before bed takes less time and motivation than whipping something up in the morning when I’m trying to get out the door. The smell of the cooked oats in the morning will get you out of bed.
I use a variety of add-ins. They include goji berries and other dried fruit, hemp seeds, flaked coconut, chia seeds, ground cinnamon (almost always those last two), sunflower lecithin granules and vanilla powder. I’ve added canned pumpkin. Sometimes I add yogurt when I portion it out.
Steel cut oats could be considered a “power food” because they are an excellent source of protein, soluble and insoluble fiber and select vitamins and minerals. The benefits of steel cut oats exceed the benefits of rolled oats because of the way they are processed.
High in antioxidants, high in vitamin C, with compounds rich in vitamin A. goji berries contain 18 different amino acids and 20 different vitamins and minerals. One source says, “Boasting 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach, as well as calcium, zinc, selenium and many other important trace minerals, there is no doubt that the humble goji berry is a nutritional powerhouse.” but when I read statements like that I question the quantity. Just how much of you have to eat to get all that iron?
People find that goji berries improve their PH levels.
Goji berries are good for yeast problems. According to The Candida Diet website (Candida: Acid or Alkaline?), Candida relies on an alkaline pH to convert to its fungal form, so maintaining the acidity in your gut is a crucial part of treating Candida. Vitamin C found in the berries would contribute to that acidity. That article from The Candida Diet states,
Candida overgrowth relies on increased alkalinity in your intestines. It needs neutral or alkaline conditions to switch to its fungal form. This is why acid-producing probiotics like acidophilus are so effective at slowing and even reversing the overgrowth, and why caprylic acid is an effective antifungal.
And yet, I've also read that yeast cannot exist for long in an alkaline environment. My analysis is that the distinction comes down to alkaline or acid forming; not just looking at the food when it goes in your body, but as it goes through it. Here's an explanation from FitDay about what's meant by “acid forming”:
The foods we eat are digested and they break down into either an acid or an alkaline end-product in our tissues. This end-product is called the ash and is what remains in the body after the food has been broken down. Foods that produce an alkaline ash are called alkaline forming food whereas those producing acid ash are called acid-forming foods.
Take lemons, for example. They're acid, but in the body they turn alkaline, so they're “alkaline forming”.
Cinnamon is a blood sugar stabilizer. It's anti-fungal, which is great for those of us dealing with candida overgrowth. Here are just two sources about the nutritional benefits of cinnamon: Sun Warrior's blog and health.india.com.
I was first made aware of sunflower lecithin by Melissa Ramos when I participated in her Sexy Liver Detox (get on her mailing list or watch her blog to learn when the next one is). Doing a search for “lecithin” on her blog for this post, I found this from a blog post she wrote in 2009 about her love of eggs:
Lecithin which is found in the yolk also makes up for two thirds of our brain. So without enough of it, we feel nervous and on edge. Not to mention the lecithin found in the yolk inhibits the cholesterol found in eggs.
…that sounds like something we can use in the winter.
If you like to delve into science-y stuff: Other sources have told me that lecithin is rich in Phosphatidyl Choline, which comprises a major portion of our brain and nervous system. Something called phosphatidylserine (try pronouncing that), found in lecithin, can alleviate dementia and early symptoms of Alzheimers, improve memory, attention span and learning ability. For people like me with characteristics of ADD, this is a plus! Phosphatidylserine reduces excessive release of the stress hormone cortisol, too. I could tell you more but the Phosphatidyl Choline/choline research rabbit hole is deep and even I need to emerge for air.
One more thing: Lecithin is helpful in the body’s ability to utilize the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K, and E.
My thought on lecithin based on what I've read over the last number of months is that it's under-rated, not enough people know about it, and it's a nutritional powerhouse. So, as Melissa indicates, eat your eggs or consume sunflower-derived lecithin. Sunflower lecithin granules can be found in bulk at Bulk Barn and Now Foods (one of my favourite brands) produces it in, liquid, softgel, powder and granule form. (Those are store affiliate links but I'm not affiliated with Now Foods. They've been one of my favourite brands for several years.)
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried figs
4 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half
In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and set to low heat*. Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours.
Stir and remove to serving bowls. This method works best if started before you go to bed. This way your oatmeal will be finished by morning.
*With a half recipe I cook it on the WARM setting, otherwise the oatmeal that touches the pot burns and sticks. I like crunchy bits at the bottom, but 9 hours on low makes them too crunchy.