Most people soak their legumes in order to help decrease the possibility of digestive upset and reduce the cooking time. But what about soaking grains, seeds, and nuts? How many times have you eaten a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast only to feel tired, sluggish, and hungry only an hour later? What about whole grain muffins? Seems like they would be healthy and filling with all of the fiber that they have, but I know from personal experience that I always feel bloated and sluggish after eating them for breakfast. For the last year, I have been experimenting with soaking not only my legumes, but nuts, seeds, and grains as well, and I have noticed a big difference in how I am able to digest these foods.
It turns out that soaking and fermenting nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes not only improves their digestibility, but the absorption of nutrients as well. Phytic Acid is present in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. It binds with Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, and Zinc in the intestinal tract, thus blocking their absorption. In the long term, this could lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. There are also Enzyme Inhibitors in raw nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes that can neutralize our own enzymes in our digestive tract. Soaking and Fermenting allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. During the process of Soaking, gluten and other difficult to digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.
Soaking your nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes only requires one more step in food preparation. Depending on the food, you need to soak your nuts/seeds/grains/legumes for 7-24 hours (usually overnight). An acidic medium is required in order to break down the phytic acid. This is obtained my mixing Whey (the liquid “stuff” in yogurt is the easiest way to obtain it), pure yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk with warm water (see the link for the chart below for specifics on how to soak nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes). If you suffer from milk allergies, you can substitute Vinegar or Lemon juice. After soaking, you simply prepare the meal the same way as if it weren’t soaked (sometimes with less water, of course). If it is boiled, always skim the foam off the top as these are the anti-nutrients that you have removed by soaking.
Below is a PDF of a simple chart to refer to when soaking the different types of nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Specific recipes will be added to the site shortly.