”So.. your last name is ”Bendelsson” people will ask with a confused look after I’ve presented myself. No, not really, I say kindly and repeat my apparently complicated names even slower, ”Elenore Bendel Zahn” and then I add with a smile ”and that’s before we go into the middle names..”. Yeah my parents are divorced (and are those three names really that strange?)
I believe names are important. Not in a superficially attached way, no. More of an energetic, can-act-as-a-key-kind of way. I don’t think names are random but rather something we choose to help us in this life or periods of this life. In my mind, a name can bring us some form of clarity for a certain period of time and then it may have served it’s larger purpose. That said, I don’t think I’ll ever change my first name but I can honestly say that I have had some help and guidance by other names. One or two that have in their own little ways brought forth clarity and reminded me of something I needed at that time. Names that I have been called by or kept in my heart just for myself.
So. Why all the woo-woo name stuff all of a sudden? Well, you know Bircher muesli? This genius invention otherwise known as overnight oats was brought to life by the swiss physician, Maximilian Bircher-Brenner who developed it after observing the sensational and to him radical and natural health of shepherds (oh I love this story). My last name, Zahn has it’s roots in those same swiss alps and although I have sadly never been, my rather obsessive lifelong love for oats, muesli and oat-y breakfasts has to originate from somewhere. At least that’s what I tell myself to keep it a wee bit more intriguing then the pretty mehh sound of say ”overnight oats” or Quaker for that matter (who uses GMO ingredients and is owned my Monsanto).
Anywho. Even if the original is rather brilliant I still had to spice things up a bit to make the Bircher muesli even more Earthsprout approved. Sorry Maximilian but that’s just the way we roll around here. (and.. ehm, thanks <3 )
Fun & Fabulous Facts
I know oats may seem oh so last century (well, actually oats date back to 2000 BC) but I’m telling you, this powerful grain has a load of cool stuff to offer. What do you say to good heart health, a blood cleanse and lowered cholesterol levels? Oats are surprisingly rich in protein and unlike cereal grains oats actually have more of the otherwise tiny load of the amino acid Lysin, making it a balanced and complete source of protein. Just choose oat groats or good quality rolled oats and you are all set. First and foremost though, let’s clear up one major misconception. Oats have for way too long been clumped together with the ”gluten grains” and wrongly so. Oats are naturally gluten free but may have been handled in an environment where they also process wheat, hence the possibility of gluten residues. But! If you are staying away from gluten and now think you’ll never be able to enjoy the oatorama, don’ fret! You can simply grow some yourself! (Ok, kidding.. or maybe not, oat is actually a very easily grown crop). What I meant to say was that there are brilliant brands out there (like Bob´s red mill) who offers guaranteed gluten free oat products. Hooray! So what do you say we get into some oatanatomy? Cuz what kind of oat product is really the ”best” one out there? Steel cut oats? Oat bran? What, what, what?!
Hulled oats /Oat groats
The freshly harvested oat grain will have a tough hull, somewhat like a shell that wraps around the hard bran. This hull is always removed but don’t be sad, it’s impossible to chew and tastes just like the pure protective fiber hull that it is. Yes, I have tried many times growing up beside oat fields. Oats that have only been hulled are simply called hulled oats (oh smarty pants!), oat groats or whole oats. The brilliant thing is that oat groats are not at all damaged by the hull-removing process like our buddy Barley is. Therefore oat groats are a great choice when you feel like cooking up some whole grains (soak first!) or make your own whole grain flour for various baking experiments. Soaked oat groats are what I use to make my oat milk.
A favorite thing among sporty peeps seems to be only eating the peeled off bran of the oat kernel since it contains heaps of filling fiber. I say – why miss out on the insanely nutritious inside of the oat kernel? Why choose one isolated part when the entire thing comes so cleverly packed with minerals, vitamins, absolutely amazing fatty acids, amino acids and healthy, complex carbohydrates. But, if you are choosing between wheat bran and oat bran you ought to go with oat bran all the way.
Steel cut oats
Are simply oat groats cut up in a few pieces and so it still has got most of the bran layer intact. Steel cut oats can be cooked for a meal, salad, breakfast or why not added to a granola batch and will have shorter cooking time then oat groats.
Are basically oat groats pressed into flat flakes. Depending on which brand you go with this process can either be done with or without steaming or baking (raw rolled oats vs regular rolled oats). It can also be done more or less carefully using old fashioned stone presses or huge metallic machinery. 100g of rolled oats will give you a whooping 13 grams of protein and will take 10-15 minutes to cook.
This product is the most processed one where oat groats not only get pressed, they will also be cut into smaller pieces or fragments. Quick oats will cook in only 2-3 minutes. I should also mention the instant oats which are the same as quick oats with the exception that they have been cooked and dehydrated before hitting the store shelves. This is why they will only need hot water added to them to be done.
So..What do I choose?
In our cupboard you will find oat groats that I can easily grind into flour for baked goods or I’ll soak and cook them for a meal or soak and make divine oat milk. There are raw rolled oats for making raw stuff like bircher muesli, other treats, crusts or raw quality flour. There is also the bag of old fashioned rolled oats that I reach for when making cooked oatmeal, toasted granola, baked cookies/crackers or bread and last but not least it is often times used for making bircher muesli when I can’t get a hold of raw rolled oats. If you are to choose one kind of oat product, go for a bag of regular high quality rolled oats. It’s without doubt the one oat product you will use the most.
Rooibos infused Bircher muesli w red berry delight
Infusing your milk of choice with rooibos tea will add that extra juicy sweetness otherwise gained by using tons of sweetener. If you are not into berries you can choose whichever fruits currently hanging out at whole foods or your nearest farmers market. The thing with Bircher muesli is that it’s insanely versatile so play with the list of ingredients and if you feel like using exclusively oats, do it!
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp quinoa flakes
2 tbsp buckwheat flakes
1 tbsp hemp hearts
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tea bag of organic rooibos tea
3/4 cup milk (oat/almond/other)
a small pinch of good quality salt
1. Bring the milk to a simmer, turn off the heat and add the tea bag. Let steep for a minimum of 5 minutes.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the milk once it’s infused, stir, refrigerate and let it soak overnight.
Red Berry delight
1/2 cup cherries, pitted
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup red currants
1. Prepare the berries in the evening, cover and let them hang out in the fridge overnight too. This way you’ll be all set if your mornings are busy. Just grab a jar of overnight oats, add some layers of berries (ta-daa, Bircher muesli!) and you are ready to go create some miracles (or put on a pair of rubber boots an early dewy morning and go berry picking!)
From a steaming hot Sweden and heart relaxed and roaring from the new moon (can you feel the phase shift?)
Elenore Lova Magdalena Olofsdotter Bendel Zahn (..phew;)