This is a quick breakfast you can prepare the night before. It was created by a Swiss physician called Maximilian Bircher-Benner for his patients in the 1900s. His recipe requires the oats to be soaked in milk for a period of time to soften them, making them easier to digest. He was ahead of his time because soaking cereals, pulses, nuts and seeds increases the nutrients available, makes them easier to digest and it neutralises the negative effects of too much phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
Just a quick note about phytic acid: it binds to other minerals such as manganese, zinc or iron and because humans don’t have the enzymes needed to break down phytates, as much as 50 percent of these minerals — especially iron — passes out of the body unabsorbed. Hence why soaking increases nutrients.
I try to soak most grains e.g. quinoa, buckwheat groats etc. The soaking is known as activating. Eight hours or overnight suffices and can easily fit into your routine e.g. putting something to soak in the mornings so that it’s ready for supper. You usually need to have double the volume of water along with half a teaspoon of salt.
However, for the bircher I prefer almond or coconut milk. You can make this up in a batch for up to three days and just keep it soaking in the fridge. This is the recipe for this morning’s Bircher:
1 cup oats
2 cups almond or coconut milk
Some grated ginger
A sprinkling of cinnamon
A handful of almonds or other nuts or seeds
One tablespoon of Maca powder (a nutritious gluten-free food from the radish family and known as ‘Peruvian Ginseng’!)
Place all the ingredients in a bowl or container and leave to soak overnight. In the summer I would just top with some berries and eat it cold. In the winter I like to warm it up with a little more almond or coconut milk and serve with some fresh berries. I would just like to add that I don’t always serve myself breakfast in a fancy tea cup – I just thought it would make the photo prettier!
If you have any questions about soaking grains, pulses etc, please feel free to get in touch.