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Monday, March 9, 2009


Why do I have whey in my fridge? 


And where did I get it?

What am I going to do with it?

All very good questions!

Whey is a component of milk.  Milk contains fat, protein (casein and others), sugar (lactose), enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.  In the process of making yogurt, the beneficial bacteria convert the lactose into lactic acid, giving the yogurt its sour flavor.  I like to drain some of the whey out of my yogurt to make it thicker.  Whey contains some protein, lactic acid, and I'm sure some other things.  Read about making yogurt, here.

Since the whey is acidic I can use it to neutralize the phytic acid in my grains (in the bran of grain).  The phytic acid, if left un-neutralized, will rob your body of important minerals.  For example, I know people like to eat Cream of Wheat for its iron content, BUT you won't be absorbing that iron because of the phytic acid!  Ideally, we should be eating all whole grain foods, but only those that have been soaked or sprouted.  Read more here.

If I want to cook brown rice, I will soak it in filtered water (for a few hours) with some whey added.

I have switched my family from modern oatmeal (rolled oats, quick oats) to old-fashioned oatmeal.  The less something is processed, the better.  Instant oatmeal is the most processed, quick oats a bit less, rolled a bit less, but THE best are whole oats!  I buy whole oats (called groats) from Whole Foods.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal


I like to use a mixture of oats, rye, and wheat.  The rye gives it a flavor reminiscent of the Roman Meal hot cereal I ate as a child.  The reason I started adding the wheat and rye is that oats are particularly low in phytase, the enzyme that breaks phytic acid down.  Regular soaking methods don't reduce the phytic acid very well (in oats).  Amanda Rose, from Rebuild From Depression, suggests adding 10% wheat to your oats.  I started doing that and thought rye would be good, too.

I place 3/4 cup whole oats, 2 tablespoons wheat berries (soft or hard), and 2 tablespoons rye berries in a blender.  I grind for about 30 seconds.  I then put the semi-ground grain into the pan I'm going to cook it in the next morning, or if it's unavailable, a mason jar.  I add 1/2 cup whey and about 2 1/2 cups filtered water.  (Here you will have to see how much water works for you.  We like really thick oatmeal.  Add more or use less according to how your family likes it.)

I let this soak overnight and then in the morning I just bring it to a boil in a saucepan, with a bit of salt added.  I stir constantly until the mixture boils and then turn the heat down to simmer, place the lid on the pan and let it simmer until thick.  I don't really watch the clock at this point.  It could take 5 minutes, it could take 30.  I usually cook this and then set it on simmer and go blow dry my hair and put on some makeup.  The first step of stirring until it boils only takes a couple minutes, so overall this is an easy breakfast!

These proportions make 3 large servings.  If you are accustomed to eating instant oatmeal, then this recipe would give you at least 6 servings.  I have actually been doubling it lately so that we can eat oatmeal all week, but I only have to soak and cook it once.  I reheat portions of it in oven-proof ramekins (covered in foil) in a 350°F oven.  I think it even tastes better the next day!

We like our oatmeal with a generous pat of butter, lots and lots of cinnamon, some sucanat (unrefined brown sugar, contains the vitamins and minerals that are stripped from refined sugars), and cream.  Mmm!  You could add fruit to this, nuts, maple syrup--make it the way you like it.  (The picture above in the bowl is oatmeal without anything added yet.)

Now, when I switched my kids over to this new oatmeal, I wasn't sure they would be on board with me (especially my son, he's the picky one), so I just decided to call it oat porridge instead of oatmeal.  That way their wouldn't be a comparison, this was something new!  Porridge!  Not oatmeal.  My son didn't take to it whole-heartedly at first, so I tried toasting it.  In Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, there is a recipe for Irish Oatmeal and it calls for toasting the grains before soaking them.

Here they are spread on my pizza stone.  I would bake them in a 350°F for about 10 minutes.

When I tried this, my son liked his "oat porridge" much better.  I did, too.  After a while, he started loving it and said it was his favorite.  I eventually stopped toasting the oats, since it was an extra step and he didn't notice the change.  I think he just needed time to develop the taste for this new oatmeal.  Now we even call it oatmeal, too.  :)

I recommend starting out with just a little bit of whey (like a tablespoon) and increasing it each time you make the oatmeal, to become accustomed to the taste.  Like I said, I now use 1/2 cup, I think Sally Fallon's recipe only calls for 1/4 cup.  I figure the more the better and I always have an excess of whey from my yogurt.  (You can also use lemon juice instead of whey.)

I recommend reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for more information on properly preparing grains.  And checkout this excerpt of Amanda Rose's book, Rebuild from Depression.  This excerpt has some excellent information from studies that have been done that we aren't hearing about in the mainstream media.


  1. This looks great! I'll have to try it. I do something similar, but don't add the wheat and rye. I had no idea that oats didn't neutralize as well. Thanks for that information. My question for you is whether or not straight yogurt will work the same as the whey? I only rarely drain my yogurt and have not been ending up with much whey lately (some used to rise to the top of the yogurt automatically, but hasn't since I have refined my system a bit more.)


  2. Sally Fallon (in Nourishing Traditions) says you can use whey, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, lemon juice, or vinegar to soak your grains.

    Many years ago, when I had first checked out Nourishing Traditions, I tried soaking oats with yogurt and didn't like the flavor--the sour taste came through. That's why this time around I started with just a little bit of whey and gradually increased. Now I don't know if we are just accustomed to the taste now or if the yogurt really is a big difference over the whey.

  3. Good to know. Thanks!

    Incidentally, when I soak my brown rice in water with whey and then cook it, my whole house smells wonderful, very much like bread baking. Mmmmm...


  4. Cool! I am definitely trying this! We buy raw milk by the half gallon glass jug and if I leave it out for a few days, the whey separates (and the solids create a nice raw spreadable cheese).

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