In herbal medicine, oats (Avena sativa) are used:
• as a nerve restorative
• brain and heart tonic
• to improve stamina
Oats contain gluten called avenin, different to the gluten found in wheat (gliadin), rye (secalin) and barley (hordein).
It is said that around four out of five people with coeliac disease can tolerate oats.
But as oats are often grown, transported and processed with gluten grains like wheat, they can get contaminated.
Most of us are happily familiar with rolled oats in breakfast porridge and Anzac biscuits.
But there’s more:
• steel cut oats (oats cut into neat little pieces on a steel buhr mill) make a very different porridge
• oat flour adds tenderness and a sweet fragrance to breads, cakes, biscuits and muffins, and oat groats,\
• like other whole grains, make hearty additions to soups and stews
• form the base of delicious salads and main dishes
• and make a fine and satisfying breakfast bowl.
• And then there’s Oatmeal Stout. Chin! Chin!
• All can be cooked as a hearty thick cereal or raw – soaked in kefir overnight for bircher style muesli (sweet and savoury … kefir miso muesli), garnished or flavoured to taste.
• Rolled oats and oat flour make pie crusts and cookies, bliss balls and bars.
Tolokno is oat flour from Russia
Whole oats were soaked for 24 hours (sacks of oats would be submerged in a pond or river) and the swollen grains then set overnight in the Russian oven -a large masonry oven for cooking and home heating.
The oats would be taken out, the oven re-fired, and the oats placed inside again to gently roast until completely dry and smelling of malt.
The oats would then be pounded or ground, and the resulting sifted flour was called tolokno from the verb “to pound.”
It would be cooked with milk or meat bouillon to make a thickened soup –in contrast to modern grain products–was very easy to digest, considered good for stomach or intestinal ailments and deemed an excellent food for convalescents and children.
Oat kisel’ is another traditional Russian delicacy made from soured oats
Whole oats were sprouted, gently dried in a warm oven and then set in warm water for 24 hours at the back of the oven where they started to ferment.
The oats and the soaking water, now containing many nutrients from the oats, were slowly heated to just boiling point while a patient cook stirred constantly.
The kisel’ was then strained and the liquid poured into a dish, where it would gelatinize, becoming thick enough to cut with a knife.
It was pleasantly sour (“kis” is related to “kvas” and means sour) and was traditionally served with milk and honey.
Kisel’ could also be made with rye or peas, and in the latter case was served with meat broth.
Some of the early beverage recipes included oatmeal.
Farmers would put a handful of oats in their jar of drinking vinegar (aka switchel).
Throughout the day they would drink the liquid off the top.
The oatmeal would get soggy and sweet from sitting in the jar all day long.
Switchel or switzel was also known as haymaker’s punch in the 19th century when it was served to quench farmers’ thirst during the hay harvest
It is believed to have originated in the West Indies and may have derived from a 15th-century vinegar-based drink called Oxymel.
These vinegar-based drinks essentially served the same purpose as lemonade at a time when neither clean drinking water nor fresh lemons were easy to come by.
Soak & Dry
Soak overnight and dehydrate oats first as they can be a bit tough on the digestive system – blitz to make flour.
Before food dehydrators were around, people used the wind, sun, open air, and fire to dehydrate foods.
Key factors to consider maximizing air exposure to ensure even air circulation, uniform thickness throughout, temperature fluctuations (constant temperatures are best), humidity (lower is generally better).
ANZACS are the iconic biscuit of Australia and New Zealand, one with a history of both love and sacrifice.
1 cup rolled oats (soaked overnight and dried) use rolled amaranth / quinoa flakes for gluten-free
1 cup flour of choice (banana)
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter / coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup applesauce / apple puree
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tablespoon boiling water
MIX + MATCH: dash of ground wattle seed, vanilla powder, goji berry or incaberry / cacao nibs.
For a spicier variation, add a dash of ground ginger to the flour mixture.
1. Preheat oven to 160C and line two oven trays with baking paper.
2. Gently melt coconut oil with the honey in a small saucepan. Let cool.
3. Combine the rolled oats, flour and coconut.
4. Mix bicarbonate of soda with boiling water and add to the cooled coconut oil / butter mixture.
5. Stir the oil / butter and bicarbonate of soda mixture into dry ingredients, add applesauce / puree and mix until combined.
6. Place teaspoonfuls of mixture (it is normal if quite runny) onto your prepared trays and flatten the mixture with a fork (the thicker the biscuit + softer and chewier the center will be). Unlike traditional Anzac biscuits, these will not spread any more during cooking.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 120C until golden brown. Remove carefully from trays (they will still be quite soft) to cool on a wire rack.
8. Store in an airtight container – if they last that long.
The cooking time will determine the crispness of the biscuits.
They will still feel soft to touch when cooked and will firm up on cooling.
For a chewier biscuit, cook until light golden in colour.
For a crunchier version, cook until biscuits are deep golden in colour.
The biscuits will lose their crispness over time if not stored in an airtight container.
Tahini Anzac Biscuits
1 cup oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons hulled tahini
3 tablespoons honey
3 dates – deglet noor
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 180C or 350F. Line a tray with baking paper.
Place the ingredients into your food processor and blend until the mixture is well combined and sticking together. Use your hands to press and shape the mixture into balls. Place the balls onto your prepared tray and gently flatten.
Bake the Anzacs for 12 – 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 5 – 10 minutes before gently transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Use Anzacs as the base for individual unbaked cheesecakes: place a whole biscuit in the bottom of a muffin tin (lined with a paper case to remove easily), top with raw cheesecake mix, chia pudding or blitzed avocado, lime and banana or whatever turns your crank and refrigerate.
Use broken biscuits as a crumble topping for poached fruit, drizzled with Switchel.
Love and bacteria, Xo, Lynnie
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