Grains, Nuts, Seeds and Legumes Must Be Properly Prepared
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Legumes are beans or peas that are from pods, also called pulses, but they do not include wax, yellow or green beans.
Important Note: All grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, if not fermented, must also be cooked long enough to break down their fibers, since human do not have digestive enzymes to break them down like herbivores (plant eating animals) do, i.e. cows. Fibers are the cell walls of all carbs, or plant foods, including grains, nuts, seeds, legumes (peas and beans from pods), vegetables, fruits, sugars, spices, herbs, etc., in other words all foods that are not classified as protein or fat, see Raw Versus Cooked Carbs.
Cooking carbs long enough releases all of the nutrients locked behind cell walls so they are available for humans to digest and utilize. It also means the large intestines is not forced into creating bacteria in order to break down fibers, which changes it into a fermentation pot. Fermentation also makes the large intestines acidic when it should be alkaline.
Therefore, after grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are properly prepared, as detailed below, they must also be cooked long enough to break down their cells walls. Since breads and pastry are cooked, and legumes must be cooked long enough so they are soft and easy to chew they aren’t an issue, however nuts and seeds are a big issue.
There isn’t much information available about how long different kinds of nuts and seeds must be cooked in order to break down their cell walls/fibers, and since their hardness varies so the timing is different timing for each kind. At this time this website doesn’t have enough information to advise you on cooking times, nor how cooking them, except in baked goods, affects their flavor or texture. Also, it is doubtful that most baked goods are cooked long enough to break down the cells walls/fibers of most nuts and seeds unless they are ground up. If you have digestive issues of any kind it is important not to have any nuts or seeds of any kind.
Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D., of the Weston A. Price Foundation point out: “…virtually all pre-industrialized peoples soaked or fermented their grains before cooking them or making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles.”
Why Soak or Ferment?
Soaking, fermenting, sour leavening or sprouting grains, and soaking seeds, nuts and legumes (any plant that grows seeds in a pod such as peas and beans) before cooking, baking or eating them initiates the sprouting process which neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and removes phytates (phytic acid) found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Phytates block absorption of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, etc., and most of all zinc, in the intestinal tract. These minerals are needed for strong bones and teeth, and for overall health.
These foods also contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with the absorption of proteins, which causes gastric distress and chronic deficiencies in amino acids. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize phytic acid, but it also removes enzyme inhibitors and breaks down complex starch.
The popular use of unprocessed bran is one of the worst examples of modern foods that cause serious health problems because of its high level of phytic acid. Granola is also another highly touted food for good health, but because it improperly prepared it is very detrimental to health.
Each type of these foods requires different handling – see the sections below for details.
Acidic Mediums for Soaking
- lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- whey (a thin, clear liquid that separates from natural yogurt and cheese); see Whey Recipe – see note below.
- raw apple cider vinegar, unfiltered and unpasteurized, i.e. Eden’s or Bragg’s
It is best to use warm non-chlorinated water for soaking, and to keep the mixture at room temperature while it is soaking.
Note about whey: Do not use whey protein powder as an acid medium because it has been denatured by high temperatures used during processing.
How to Prepare Grains
Amaranth, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Millet & Quinoa
These are the easiest grains to digest because they contain less phytates than other grains. Actually buckwheat, millet and quinoa are more seed-like than they are a grain.
Several hours of soaking softens the grain which results in baked goods that are lighter in texture. The longer they are soaked the less baking powder they require. In fact baking soda alone is enough to make them rise. Soaking first also splits cooking into two time periods, which can be convenient when you feel rushed to get food on the table.
These grains are soaked for 7 hours (a longer time is okay too), with enough warm non-chlorinated water to cover, to which 1 tablespoon of acidic medium has been added for every cup of grains, i.e. for every 1 cup of grains add 1 tablespoon of acidic medium.
Quinoa needs to be rinsed well before soaking. After soaking the water is drained off and then it is rinsed again. Fresh water is then added for cooking.
When soaking flour for a recipe, use only the amount of liquid and flour in the recipe, and no other ingredients. Also adjust the amount of acidic medium accordingly, i.e. 1/2 cup of flour requires 1/2 tablespoon, whereas 2 cups of flour requires 2 tablespoons.
Gluten is particularly difficult for humans to digest. It is contained in grains such as barley, bulgar, durum, kamut, oats, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, etc. Soaking gluten grains helps to partially break down hard-to-digest gluten, in addition to removing phytates and other unwanted enzymes, making them easier to digest and absorb. Early Americans got around these problems by making sourdough biscuits, pancakes and bread, which also partially breaks down gluten.
To learn the most current information on the growing, care of, and processing of wheat see “Wheaty Indiscretions–What Happens to Wheat, from Seed to Storage” – Here’s an excerpt from this article:
“Ideally, one should buy whole wheat berries and grind them fresh to make homemade breads and other baked goods. Buy whole wheat berries that are grown organically or biodynamically; biodynamic farming involves higher standards than organic. Since these forms of farming do not allow synthetic, carcinogenic chemicals and fertilizers, purchasing organic or biodynamic wheat assures that you are getting the cleanest, most nutritious food possible.
It also automatically eliminates the possibility of irradiation and genetically engineered seed. The second best option is to buy organic 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour at a natural food store. Slow-speed, steel hammer-mills are often used instead of stones, and flours made in this way can list “stone-ground” on the label. This method is equivalent to the stone-ground process and produces a product that is equally nutritious.
Any process that renders the entire grain into usable flour without exposing it to high heat is acceptable.
If you do not make your own bread, there are ready-made alternatives available. Look for organic sourdough or sprouted breads freshly baked or in the freezer compartment of your market or health food store.
If bread is made entirely with 100 percent stone-ground whole grains, it will state so on the label. When bread is stone ground and then baked, the internal temperature does not usually exceed 170 degrees, so most of the nutrients are preserved. Since they contain no preservatives, both whole wheat flour and its products should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Stone-ground flour will keep for several months frozen.
Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening “pre-digests” grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors.
These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.32 All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive.
Sprouting also causes a beneficial modification of various nutritional elements. According to research undertaken at the University of Minnesota, sprouting increases the total nutrient density of a food. For example, sprouted whole wheat was found to have 28 percent more thiamine (B1), 315 percent more riboflavin (B2), 66 percent more niacin (B3), 65 percent more pantothenic acid (B5), 111 percent more biotin, 278 percent more folic acid, and 300 percent more vitamin C than non-sprouted whole wheat. This phenomenon is not restricted to wheat. All grains undergo this type of quantitative and qualitative transformation. These studies also confirmed a significant increase in enzymes, which means the nutrients are easier to digest and absorb.”
Options for preparing gluten grains.
- Sour leavening method uses a sourdough starter made from rye flour (it takes about 1 week to make it) – recipe is in the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon – or buy a good sourdough bread culture from G.E.M. Cultures.
- Soaking whole gluten grains or flour for 24 hours, using 2 tablespoons of acidic medium for each cup of grains.
- Dry-Sprout gluten grains in a low oven temperature or in a dehydrator, after which they are ground in a grain mill. The flour can be used in a variety of recipes.
Corn, Special Treatment is Necessary; Corn needs to be soaked in lime water (dolomite powder) before it is used in recipes.
- Put about one inch (1″) of dolomite powder in a 2 quart jar
- Add non-chlorinated water, screw on the top, and shake it thoroughly.
- Let it stand overnight. The powder will settle to the bottom and the remaining clear liquid will contain the necessary lime water. Carefully pour the clear lime water into another jar without disturbing the powder at the bottom, and store it where it is cool, but it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.
Depending upon the recipe, 2 cups of cornmeal is soaked in 1 ½ to 2 cups of lime water for 7 hours, and it is soaked an additional 12 to 24 hours after adding 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt.
Examples: Cornbread is 2 cups of cornmeal to 1 1/2 cups of lime water, and 1 cup of buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt. Cornmeal Spoon Bread is 2 cups of cornmeal to 2 cups of lime water, and 2 cups of buttermilk, kefir or yoghurt.
When making polenta, use 2 cups of cornmeal to 1 cup lime water, plus 4 tablespoons of whey or yoghurt.
There are always other ingredients to add, i.e. flour, butter or whatever the recipe lists. Add these ingredients to the wet cornmeal after the second soaking is done.
It is wise to grind your own corn, as with all whole grains, but this is not always possible. Commercial mesa is corn that has already been soaked in lime water. It is best to keep mesa in the freezer because, like all commercial whole wheat flours, it becomes rancid quickly.
Dried Beans, i.e. Black, Lima, Pinto, Kidney, White, etc.
- Use warm non-chlorinated water to cover.
- Add acidic medium: 1) Medium-sized and large beans require 1 tablespoon of acidic medium for each cup of raw beans. 2) Small beans require 2 tablespoons of acidic medium for each cup. Do not add salt.
- Soak for a minimum of 7 hours or overnight. Large beans require a longer soaking time, ranging from 12 to 24 hours.
- Always drain and rinse the soaking water off the beans before cooking, and add fresh water to cook them.
- During cooking skim off any foam that rises, and discard it.
Dried Lentils and Split Peas
- Soak for 7 hours without an acid medium and without salt.
- Pour off the soaking water, rinse and replace with fresh non-chlorinated water before cooking or adding to soups or broths.
- After it comes to a boil skim off the foam and discard it.
Soaking Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a wonderful snack and they can also be ground into flour. Always buy raw nuts or seeds that are not toasted or roasted because they contain man-made oils that are damaging to health.
It is better to be cautious when drying nuts in the oven, even when only using the oven light, because they can burn very easily. They can also be dried at room temperature but it will take longer.
- Place 4 cups of raw nuts or seeds in a bowl.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ocean sea salt over them (if soaking less than 4 cups less salt is added accordingly). No acid medium is necessary for soaking nuts and seeds.
- Pour enough warm non-chlorinated water over them, just enough to cover them.
- Leave them to soak in a warm place for 6 to 8 hours; please see the note on cashews below.
- Drain off the water (do not rinse them), and pat them dry with a towel.
- Seeds are air-dried at room temperature, and nuts can be air-dried too, or they can be dried in the oven: Spread nuts out on a cookie sheet and dry them in the oven on the lowest heat possible for 12-24 hours depending upon the type of nut – the temperature should not go above 150°F since it can burn them. Some nuts, like pecans, only require the oven light to provide enough heat to dry them without burning them; they shouldn’t be left in the oven for more than 4 hours, and then they should be air-dried the rest of the way. Some ovens will require the oven door be propped open with rolled towels to keep the heat in and the light on at the same time.
- Ensure the nuts and seeds are totally dried before storing them or they will have more of a tendency to mold. If you aren’t sure they are completely dried, put a paper towel in the jar, with the lid on tight, for 24 hours to soak up the moisture, and then refrigerate them.
- Store nuts and seeds in glass containers with tight fitting lids, and keep them in the refrigerator.
Cashews are the exception to long soaking time. Do not soak them more than 7 hours. They have already been through one soaking in their initial processing. If they are soaked too long they will be bitter. They may be crisped in the oven at a higher temperature because they have already had their enzymes destroyed by high temperature used during their commercial processing.
- “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats,” by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D., Weston A. Price Foundation.
- Climb Down from the Bran Wagon