Happy Halloween!

Today also marks the three year anniversary of the cycling accident in Los Angeles which completely shattered my right knee, placing me in a wheelchair for over a year and preventing me from returning home to my very busy life in New York City. As such, I now think of this time as my “rebirthday” since my entire existence was forever changed on that day and I was bound to begin all over again from virtually naught.

During the initial time of the accident, I was absolutely terrified of dealing with such a challenge in a strange city where I knew very few like-minded people and the only paying work I had lined up was performance-related (and therefore impossible for me to accomplish in a broken state).
Also a concern was the fact that I had been adhering to an entirely raw, chemical-free dietary (and largely DIY) lifestyle since 2006, and had absolutely no idea as to how I would maintain that without the ability to wander the farm markets on a weekly basis in search of seasonal goodness.
Life seemed to come to a screeching halt for a moment, and set in place so many new concerns:

 

– How would I get back home to New York?
– What will happen to the cats who had been living with me?
– How would I teach culinary workshops?
– How would I keep appointments I had made to visit organic farms on behalf of LORAX Community?
– How would I prepare food for myself?
– Would I have to eat cooked food again due to lack of fresh options?
– Would I be forced to decide between allopathic treatment and living the rest of my life in a wheelchair?
– Where will I stay now that I’m in a wheelchair which requires me to use special access facilities?
– What will happen when my savings run out?
– What of my apartment, furniture and other personal belongings?

I immediately decided to begin a fast until the habitat situation was resolved, since using the lavatory for ‘important matters’ was no longer possible. My room was quite small, and the door to those facilities would not allow me to pass through in even the smallest wheelchair. Thus, other means were employed and intake of fibrous matter was strictly verboten from my dietary intake until a resolution could be reached. Fasting also helps to clear the mind, allowing me to focus on resolving issues without any distractions or potential issues which could arise due to mindless consumption of poorly combined elements (unfortunately, this is quite a common occurrence for most living in a modern day, ‘convenience’ oriented society).

Shortly thereafter (maybe 2 weeks later) I was relocated to a rather noisy and unpleasant location in downtown Los Angeles, and then after that to a far more peaceful environment near Redondo Beach featuring many special access facilities including a small kitchenette area with ample counter space, spacious washroom, and brand new comfortable bed piled high with cozy pillows.
During this transitional process I was able to reconnect with one of the farmers (Rick Dominguez of Rick’s Seasonal Produce) with whom I had made an appointment to visit, who kindly offered to make sure that I would not be without fresh organic produce at any time. Rick’s kind offer set my mind at ease, especially since he made a special point of travelling outside his usual market radius to bring goods to my new remote spot near the beach. We became friends over time, sharing food and even visiting the beach or making a few excursions to visit shops for supplies.
Fortunately, I had also brought along the Vitamix I had been using to teach workshops on behalf of LORAX Community. Thus, I would be able to run ample amounts of fruit & greens through to ensure maximum nutrient intake through potable healing elixirs. Without access to a working phone or any of my account information relating to my life back East, I decided that the healthiest option was to simply “let go” and forget about my past life, home, and material possessions in favour of focusing my energy entirely on my healing and studies related to my teaching, as well as overall existence as a arbiter of compassionate living. Thus was the true beginning of my healing process, and carried me through for the next year+ until I finally found a way back to the East Coast.

Three years later my life is completely changed, and my leg has nearly been restored to 100% thanks to clean, raw, plant-derived foods (including medicinal herbs), pure water, large (often seemingly impossible) amounts of self-discipline, practical application of yoga techniques learned over the course of a lifetime of practice, and most importantly…

Occupational therapy in the form of this blog and matters related.
Essentially, life is about learning, experimentation, & applying suitable adjustments based upon acquired information.

Sometimes this means removal of certain elements from our everyday lifestyles for various reasons, as I did several 5 or so years ago with all grains due to health concerns & other factors (some of which were largely related to lack of practical knowledge of proper utilisation).

Despite numerous lifestyle changes along the way, my underlying philosophy has always been veganism from an ethical (Ahimsa) perspective. Such has been the case for nearly a quarter of a century at present, and will not change, nomatter what may come to pass.

During the Summer months made a decision to experiment with re-incorporation of oats into my diet, despite having avoided them for the past 5 years or so for various reasons relating to numerous health concerns and a desire to maintain optimum mineral supply for my body to use in healing. Oral cavities were a matter of particular interest, as I had read several scientific studies relating to historical instances of humans actually reversing tooth decay by making certain nutrient adjustments in their everyday diets. According to one study conducted in the early 1900s by Doctors Edward and May Mellanby, elimination of all grain from the diet allowed the body to better absorb supplemental vitamin D & retain minerals necessary for healing and regeneration of decaying teeth. Certain groups of children participating in the study were also given oats, which actually resulted in an increase of tooth decay in nearly all subjects. The doctors attributed this increase to the presence of phytic acid, which I recently learned may be reduced in oats through a simple process of fermentation.

My desire to rekindle a relationship with oats had been inspired around this time by a culinary tweet from Healing Inspirations, a fellow Ahimsa advocate who uses his account to inspire others toward compassionate lifestyles through simple everyday choices. His post included some type of plant-based cheese product (not raw) made from oats and various other ingredients. I have already mastered the fine art of crafting raw, aged cheeses from various seeds and nuts through a process involving fermentation, so why not try that with oats?

Ah, I remembered… Generally speaking, oats are neither raw nor free of gluten due to common processing.
And then there’s the matter related to dental/bone healing/degeneration studies such as that mentioned above by the Mellanbys, proving that oats also contain certain elements which actually BLOCK the body’s ability to absorb minerals essential for the body to properly heal and regenerate…

However, the fact that I had been avoiding tree nuts for several months due to various reasons (lack of availability during certain seasons being the biggest) really sparked my interest in the potential of oats as an economical, nut-free catalyst for culinary experiments. This (seemingly) led me toward new understanding of how I may possibly be able to use them without fear of detriment, thus I decided to embark upon a new journey…

Live fermentation & a little nutrient alchemy!
According to several studies, mineral-blocking acids known as phytates may potentially be broken down and essentially neutralised in the process of live fermentation. These acids may be further disabled with addition of small amounts of buckwheat (one of my kitchen staples) into the equation. Since my raw food kitchen is all about soaking, sprouting, and culinary chemistry, experimentation with raw, organic, whole oat groats seemed a simple and fun way to learn more about something I once loved yet reluctantly banished from my life due to health-related concerns. In fact (and even more serendipitously), my initial idea actually involved fermentation anyway!

Life flows so brilliantly, ne? =)

Although I enjoyed my Summer of oats very much, in the end I found them more difficult to digest (even in a fermented state) than other more simple produce, and even seeds or nuts which I also pre-soak and often ferment before use. I recently completed an extended water fast followed by a rather comprehensive cleanse (consisting of fresh juicing, amongst other things), and found that the “unbinding” process which normally happens quite quickly in my system was far more of a task to achieve this time around. I attribute this as a result of grain consumption, as I vaguely remember having struggled similarly upon having first given up grains several years back. As such, I have decided to follow my Autumn cleanse with a return to my original grain-free way of life and perhaps use them only very occasionally (as in a possible “rice” ingredient for a ThanksLiving or similar holiday feast). However, the sensual experience of eating them was quite enjoyable, even somewhat comforting as a familiar flavour from childhood. I would highly recommend trying fermented whole oats to anyone first embarking upon a raw and living foods journey as a fine (and overwhelmingly convincing) replacement for rice, so long as they are comfortable with oats and willing to make a bit of effort to reduce potential negative effects from the phytates contained within.

Working with Raw Oats

Cleaning whole raw oat groats w/filtered water before preparation

If using whole oat groats not certified as free of gluten, be sure to wash well until water runs clear and no debris remains.

Please bear in mind that the fermentation process works only with whole, raw, unprocessed oat groats (as opposed to heat processed rolled oats, or other types of “oatmeal” products). Another caveat to consider is that one may find it exceedingly difficult to find whole oat groats which bearing both “organic” and “gluten-free” certifications. Oats, by nature, are actually free of gluten. However, when they are grown or processed in the vicinity of wheat or other gluten-bearing products, they often become contaminated or are considered to be compromised past the point of certification regulations. As such, you will likely be faced with a choice of certified organic -or- certified gluten free as I was.

Although I am indeed highly sensitive to gluten, I am violently opposed to the genetic modification of food and am far less willing to risk my long-term health by opting for anything potentially containing GMOs. At present, the organic certification is the only guarantee I have that any given single item is free of GMOs, so I opted for the organic over gluten guarantee and simply pre-washed the oats extensively before soaking (lest any gluten debris may have potentially contaminated the package).

 

After having pre-washed the oats, I then allowed them to dry for a moment before transferring them into a large Mason jar & covering them in mineral spring water to soak for at least a day. After several hours, they would absorb quite a bit of the water and have softened to the point of usability, but fermentation takes a bit longer and the texture truly improves a great deal with time.

Straining cleaned oat groatsOatSoak

Once finished fermenting (12-24 hours), the raw oat groats are ready for use in a wide variety of ways–both sweet and savoury!

My first experiment was oat yoghurt, which was quite easily the most elementary of all projects: Blending Oat Yoghurt

  1. Simply place the entire jar’s contents into the Vitamix (or similar high-speed blender)
  2. Blend until smooth, and maybe pour in some additional water (for those who prefer a thinner consistency) along the way.
  3. Pour it all back into the jar and leave it on the counter (or other warm spot) for several hours or longer.
    The longer it sits to ferment, the more tart and yoghurt-esque it will become.

Et voila!
From that point you may wish to add fruit, vanilla bean, or something similar to create a sweet breakfast parfait…

Oat Yogurt Fruit Parfait
…sweet frozen treat
Vanilla Oat Yoghurt Swirlpop

…or add cucumber and mint to create a lovely raita condiment for savoury Indian style dishes.

Raw Cauliflower Curry Bowl w/Vegan Raita

Perhaps you may not wish to blend it down at all, but prefer to use them groats as one would use grains of rice in other projects:

Raw Vegan Curry & Korma Plated w/Raw Oat BiryaniRaw/Vegan Mexican Squash Bowl w/Savoury Fruit, Oat "Rice" & Sour Cream

Raw Hoummous w/Oat "Rice" & Savoury Fruits

Once fermented, there are countless applications and variations thereof for raw, fermented, LIVING oats and the sky is essentially the limit!

Oat & Beetroot BurgerRaw Vegan Cinnamon Oatmeal Fig Bites

And now I have an incredibly fabulous Hallowe’en treat to share with those of you who have seen fit to share your time and energy with me in having read this entire entry:

Please click the image to find my recipe for this 100% raw, vegan, living foods “sweetza” (sweet pizza) with oatmeal cookie crust, chocolate sauce, & sweet/spicy fruit toppings.

Raw Vegan Sweet Pizza w/Oatmeal Cookie Crust

Blessings for compassionate wellness and enjoyment to all beings! ♡Ⓥ★

2 Comments

  1. 2-15-2015

    What other grains can I use for fermenting? Do I follow the same process as set out for fermenting oats?
    Thank you.

  2. 3-15-2015

    Greetings Simone, and thank you for your comment!

    Although I have sprouted a variety of common grains over time for planting (with the purpose of growing grasses to implement into non-human animal health routines), I personally do not consume them for various reasons. I do work with seeds rather often (sprouted sunflower seeds are a favourite), and do a fair amount of fermentation with various nuts–which are fabulous for making cultured cheeses, yoghurts, and other creamy things–during months when they are in season and available directly from small growers of such. I intend to include some ideas for such in the book on which I have been working (no release date set just yet, mainly due to massive data loss which has set me back quite a bit on the project), but no plans to include anything related to wheat, rice, or other overly man-manipulated grains which have a tendency to create digestive issues or wreak havok on one’s allergies.
    In fact, even after my fun and enjoyable experience in working with them for research, I have found that my system feels far better on fresh fruit and veg, and am no longer inclined to consume even fermented oats.

    I do work with buckwheat fairly often (which is not technically a grain but a seed), which I find works best for me when sprouted. If you are at all interested in learning more about working with buckwheat, please feel free to have a look at this past post on the subject.

    I am grateful for your message, and sincerely hope that some of this proves helpful to your needs! =)

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