Oats with Apricot Butter

I was 8 the first time I fainted. Totally unconscious, lips turned blue. It happened a few more times that year, for seemingly no reason. I was dragged from test to specialist to test to figure out what was wrong with me, and at the end of it all, we found out the answer was nothing. Just a little low blood pressure. In fact, I still have really low blood pressure (poor me!) and there’s nothing I can do about it. The only advice my doctors gave was to eat breakfast.

Fast forward 10 (cough) or so years, and I’m still eating a hearty breakfast every morning before I leave the house. My current incarnation is a bowl of steel cut oats, topped with a dollop of yogurt, a few toasted sliced almonds, homemade apricot butter, and a drizzle of honey (or a little bee pollen, pictured above). I know it sounds like a lot, but with a little planning, the whole thing comes together in about 3 minutes in the morning.

Now, I know some of you aren’t really breakfast people. You’re just not hungry in the morning. Or maybe you pick up a muffin on the way to work because you don’t don’t have time to cook and eat at home. And that’s really too bad, because there are a lot of advantages to eating a good breakfast, only one of which is not fainting. You see, our bodies are programmed to crave a similar amount of calories from day to day.  Yes, it might change a little if you go from a desk job to being a construction worker, but for the most part we’re all gonna eat the same, whether we eat most of our food in the mornings, or wait until later in the day.  So, it makes sense to eat a good healthy breakfast, because we’ll be able to nourish our bodies with what they need when we eat some fruit, nuts, yogurt and/or oatmeal. Eating just lunch and dinner can lead to the after dinner munchies, where we tend to eat more empty calories with chips, chocolate and ice cream. Another thing, eating more calories earlier in the day means you have more energy, and more time to burn off those calories.

As you can see, this meal has a few different components. Feel free to mix and match and switch it up to your liking. A little cream or soymilk for the yogurt, different nuts or seeds, use your favorite jam or preserves (check the label for added sugar), or use fresh in season fruit. If you’re not keen on making the oats the night before, but lack the 45 minutes in the morning, use rolled oats instead, they’ll only take about 10 minutes to cook. A note on the apricot butter: please, don’t leave out the whey. You need it for the lacto-fermentation. This fermentation, which happens when you leave it out on the counter for a few days, is the heart of the butter. It adds a great depth of flavor, probiotics that help with digestion, and it makes the nutrients more available to your body. This is one of the ways traditional people preserved the harvest before refrigeration. To make the whey, just strain your yogurt a bit – through a strainer lined with cheesecloth set on top of a bowl. It will only take 5-10 minutes to drain the 2 tablespoons you need for the recipe. You could also make labneh or homemade ricotta  and use the whey from that.

The oat recipe makes enough for me for a week, and the apricot butter makes enough for a month. If you’re feeding a crowd, go ahead and double everything. You can heat the leftover oats in a covered saucepan with a little water for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

Oats with Apricot Butter

2 c. dried, unsulphured apricots
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 T. whey 
2 T. raw honey

1 1/2 c. steel cut oats
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 c. water

whole fat, plain yogurt, preferably from grass-fed cows
sliced almonds, toasted
honey or bee pollen

You’ll have to start the butter a few days ahead of time. Place apricots in a saucepan, cover with water, and cook over medium heat for 5-15 minutes, or until soft. Drain and transfer to the food processor. Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt, whey and 2 T. honey and process until smooth. Scoop into a jar, close tightly, and set on the counter for 2 days. After that, it can be stored in the refrigerator.

The night before the butter is done, bring 3 c. water to boil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Stir in salt and oats, turn off heat and cover. Let it sit overnight, and in the morning it will be done. If you’d rather do it the day of, instead of turning off the heat, turn it to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

To assemble, scoop about 1/2 c. (or however much you’re hungry for) oats into a bowl. Top with a tablespoon or two of yogurt, apricot butter and almonds. Drizzle with a little honey, or sprinkle about 1 tsp. bee pollen and serve.

(Apricot Butter recipe from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon)

 

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