Thursday, April 8, 2010

Soaking Nuts and Grains

My husband comments that I am always changing things and finding new ways that we "have to" prepare our food. He's not complaining, just confused, especially when he's helping me I give him new instructions for something that we've done before.

For some fortunate reason, when we started eating dried beans and brown rice, one of the first instructions I read for preparing them was to soak them overnight. I never knew why, I just thought that was what you do.

Now I know why.

Phytic acid is found in nuts/seeds and the bran of whole grains. It combines with nutrients in the gut, hindering absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc. Whole grains and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors which make digestion difficult. Soaking the grains from 12-24 hours (some grains need the latter, like oatmeal) in warm, acidic water (add some apple cider vinegar/kombucha to the water) will break down these not so pleasant parts of the grain, as will sprouting. Again I never measure, just make sure the grain is covered.

Soaking starts the sprouting process. All those nutrients locked up for the growth of the plant now get released. This includes; Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C. Soaking also breaks down complex sugars (which are responsible for gas/bloating - so now you can safely eat your beans). Aflatoxins (a mold found an all grains to some extent - and the main culprit for peanut allergies) is also naturalized. (Note: I am NOT saying if you are allergic to peanuts that soaking will make it safe for you.)

Apparently you're supposed to soak nuts in water with some salt added. This is because there are more enzyme inhibitors in nuts and the salt helps with breaking that down. Originally I started soaking nuts for myself because I heard that there are more nutrients available in soaked nuts. Also, after soaking the first time, I found that I enjoyed them way more when they were soaked.

After nuts have soaked for 12-24 hours, you can dehydrate them for later use, and to prolong shelf-life (just soaked nuts go bad fairly quickly). Dehydrate at a low heat, less than 100 F to protect the nutrients. Then you can make nut butters, or chop them for recipes, or keep on hand for snacks.

The main nuts that I soak are almonds and apricot kernels. My husband is allergic to a lot of nuts so almonds seem to replace them in many recipes. I eat apricot kernels (when I can get them) for all the health benefits they have, I find they are more tolerable when they are soaked (but that's just me, Joey thinks they're even more bitter).

If I'm eating something (anything) why not do a few simple things and get the best that I possibly can out of my food?

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