Cooking Whole Grains
Cooking with Whole Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds
In our modern society, food preparation often focuses on convenience and speed, rather than quality and digestibility. Our ancestors utilized a basic cooking technique that was inherent in all cultures, that of soaking foods before cooking them. This time-honored tradition fell by the wayside as the world marched toward ever increasing “modernity.” What we gained in convenience we lost in nutrition and actually contributed to a decline in our collective health. Our ancestors knew what they were doing and it’s in our best interest to revisit the practice of soaking before cooking. Here’s why:
Phytic Acid and Why We Don't Have 4 Stomachs Like Cows Do
Phytic Acid is present in the bran and hulls of most grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper and prevents their absorption. Phytic acid not only grabs on to minerals, it also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food. These enzymes are nature’s way of protecting the seed from germinating until the conditions are proper for growth but seriously inhibit human digestion. (Cows and other herbivores can handle raw grains because their digestive tracts evolved differently.)
Soaking grains, nuts, seeds, and beans in water for a period of time neutralizes the phytic acid and renders them much more digestible. Foods that we thought were healthy – unfermented soy products such as tofu, extruded whole grain cereals, rice cakes, granola, raw muesli – may be doing us more harm than good if we overconsume them. Knowing how to properly prepare grains is vital to maintaining a health-supportive diet. Vegetarians especially, who rely a great deal on grains and beans, should avoid over consumption of phytic acid by preparing foods using traditional methods in order to avoid nutritional deficiencies and health problems.
How to soak and cook grains
You can soak grains like rice, millet, quinoa, and wheat for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature in non-chlorinated water with 1-2 tablespoons whey, lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir to give it some acidity which helps neutralize the phytic acid. Place the correct ratio of grain to water in the cooking pot you plan to use. After soaking, cook as usual.
How to soak and cook beans
Beans should be soaked for a minimum of 12 hours and rinsed thoroughly. Cook them with a piece of kombu seaweed, which will enchance the predigestive process of the beans.
How to prepare lentils and split peas
Soak for 8 hours, rinse, and cook in non-chlorinated water.
How to prepare nuts and seeds
Place 4 cups of raw nuts or seeds in a bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sea salt over them. Add just enough warm non-chlorinated water to cover them. Soak at room temperature for 8 hours. Drain but don’t rinse and pat dry with a clean towel.
Seeds can be air-dried at room temperature. Nuts can be air-dried too, or they can be dried in the oven:
Spread nuts out on a cookie sheet and dry in the oven on the lowest heat setting, preferably no hotter than 150°F. How long depends on the size of the nut. You can also use a food dehydrator to dry nuts.
Breads and Baked Goods
Our American and European ancestors dealt with the grain "problem" in breads by making sourdough bread, biscuits, and pancakes. Read here for how to make sourdough starter. Once you have the starter, you can keep it going indefinitely with the proper care and feeding.
Sprouted Grains - Oryana sells presprouted brown rice, quinoa, and lentils. These are in the refrigerated bulk cooler. You don't need to soak these as they have already been soaked. We also sell sprouted almonds.
For more information about soaking foods: