As we approach the darker days, we may start to turn to denser foods like whole beans, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. These foods are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And these foods are great for stews, soups, sides and dips, and snacks. However, many people often complain about how these foods affect their digestion. Most experience gas, bloat, and constipation, especially those who already have IBS or FODMAP sensitivities.
A reason why these foods may cause the gas and bloat is because they contain phytic acids and enzyme inhibitors that may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the beautiful nutrients that are inside of them. This is due to phytic acid’s ability to bind to essential minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium in the digestive tract and inhibit their absorption in the body. Annoying, huh? Well luckily, we can work this out through the process of soaking.
SOAKING also makes these foods, which are initially indigestible, into foods that are full of enzymes, vitamins and minerals. The enzymes created by soaking helps you to digest the grain (bean, nut or seed) properly so your body can absorb all the nourishment that it provides.
Removing this phytic acid layer is quite simple. In doing so, we have better nutrient absorption, increased vitamin B levels, and even neutralizes toxins in the colon and keeping it clean. So if you love these foods but fear eating them because they give you the toot-toots or whichever belly problem, let’s consider soaking them before cooking. Here’s how:
Beans, legumes & grains: Soak individual food in a bowl filled with water for 8 hours. Leave about 3-4 inches of space because the water gets absorbed and the beans get bigger. Add 1 tbsp. of raw apple cider vinegar or the juice of half a lemon. This helps to remove the phytic layer.
Nuts and seeds have varying soaking times anywhere from 4-12 hours. These too, should get 1 tbsp. of ACV or lemon squeeze as well.
After they are done soaking, rinse them a couple of times then cook (if beans or grains). They should cook in a shorter amount of time. Nuts and seeds can be air dried (to be eaten within a couple of days), lightly roasted or dehydrated on a low setting for some crunch. Note: After dehydrating, freeze them to preserve them.
Optional* (but highly recommended) Add a strip of KOMBU ( a type of seaweed) when cooking beans, legumes, or grains. KOMBU makes beans, legumes, and grains even more digestible, plus they leach out an abundance of vitamins and minerals and enhances flavor.
SPROUTING is a delicious and edible way to eat grains and beans in their raw form. The sprouting process takes additional days after they’ve been soaked.
Step 1 – Soak your grain, nut, bean or seed in water with an added tablespoon of lemon juice or ACV. Make sure the water is double the amount of grain, nut, bean or seed, because it will be absorbed a bit. Leave the bowl or jar on your countertop at room temperature for the specified time. If your grain, nut, bean or seed calls for a longer soaking time, then you’ll need to change the water once or twice.
Step 2 – Drain the liquid, then rinse and fill back up with fresh water. Drain the liquid slowly at an angle to create a humid environment. Use a muslin cloth to allow the water to drain out while also keeping fruit flies from coming in. Your goal is to keep the kernels moist until they sprout a bud. They do this by being exposed to light and moisture.
Step 3 – Repeat Step 2 every few hours, or at least twice daily.
Step 4 – In 1-4 days, your sprouted grain, nut, bean or seed should be ready. Refer to the chart for sprouting times.
Step 5 – Eat within 2-3 days. You can put them on salads, sandwiches, in smoothies, soups or accompanied with any dish.
Although soaking and sprouting is a bit time consuming, the nutritional benefits are tremendous. If you have the time and want to try out sprouting, then rad go for it! If sprouting seems like too much of a project for you then save it for later. However, I highly recommend that you soak your grains, beans, nuts, and seeds so that you get full absorption of the vitamins and minerals without getting any stomachaches.
Tip: Soak your kernels before hittin' the hay or before work, that gives them at least 8 hours of soakage, then all you have to do is put them under the heat or in a dehydrator.