How to soak and cook oatmeal the traditional way, aka “overnight oats” for a digestible and nourishing breakfast that will keep you feeling full all the way to lunch!
How do you cook oatmeal the healthiest way possible? Is it acceptable to cook it in the microwave, quickly poured out of convenient, ready to use packets? Do you think this is a healthy start to the day?
Reality Check: Ripping open a package of instant oatmeal, pouring it in a mug with some water and nuking it in the microwave for a couple of minutes is NOT a nourishing breakfast! And guess what … you will feel hungry again about an hour later!
Don’t get me wrong here – oatmeal can and should be a healthy breakfast!
How you choose to cook oatmeal, however, is the critical step that most people completely miss and which determines how much nourishment and benefit you will actually derive from the experience. It is one of the most important cooking skills to learn yourself and teach children before they leave home.
Preparation determines how long the oatmeal will fill you up. What good is a bowl of oatmeal if you are hungry again and ready for a donut fix by 10 am?
Overnight Oats the Traditional Way
Learning to prepare overnight oats as practiced for centuries by ancestral societies will take a little planning on your part. But, you will be greatly rewarded with a much more nourishing, digestible breakfast that will stay with you all the way to lunchtime!
Traditional peoples knew through observation that grains were very hard to digest and caused health problems over time for those who consumed them without careful preparation.
Throwing out those boxed breakfast cereals that are at least twice as expensive per serving and toxic to boot and replacing with a simple, nutritious bowl of porridge will also help your food budget considerably with no loss in pleasure or enjoyment particularly on chilly winter mornings!
TIP: I’ve had people email me to complain that when you cook oatmeal by first soaking for at least 7 hours or overnight, it results in a sour tasting porridge. I’ve found that soaking in water plus lemon juice produces a delightful and slightly lemony porridge that is not sour at all and absolutely pops with flavor! If you still need help adjusting to the taste of soaked oatmeal, the linked article plus video will share an easy way to slowly adapt.
How to Cook Oatmeal (traditional method)
The traditional method for preparing overnight oats and cooking oatmeal the next morning that results in a bowl of porridge that is very digestible, filling and nourishing compared to modern convenience methods.
Mix the oats, 2 cups of water, and lemon juice in a pot. Cover and leave on the counter (NOT in the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours or overnight. If you have trouble digesting grains, feel free to soak for as long as 24 hours.
When soaking is complete, add 1/2-1 cup additional filtered water to the pot. Bring to a boil with the salt. Cook oatmeal thoroughly for 5 minutes. You do not need to rinse the oats before cooking.
Traditional oatmeal is best served with butter and/or cream for optimal assimilation of minerals. A natural sweetener, nuts, raisins or other fruit may be added as desired.
If you are just starting to soak oatmeal for breakfast, feel free to just soak with water at first and gradually build up to the 4 tablespoons of recommended acidic medium (I prefer lemon juice).
Detailed Video Tutorial
In this longer video below, I show you exactly how I cook rolled oats into oatmeal.
It requires the initial step of soaking the night before. Then, it cooks up quickly the next morning!
Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers for a fast warm-up on the stove on subsequent mornings.
No Rinsing Required
You do not need to rinse the soaked oats before cooking. The antinutrients are deactivated, so no further effort is needed other than simmering for a few minutes on the stove!
I do not recommend soaking oat groats. The linked article explains why.
Soaked Oats vs Sprouted
If you don’t think you can manage the two minutes it takes before you go to bed to put on a pot of oatmeal to soak, this article shows you how to prepare traditional oatmeal without soaking using sprouted rolled oats instead.
This article on sprouting vs soaking explains the differences nutritionally and digestively speaking.