properly prepared foods

Read This If You Eat Grains

Grains, beans (legumes), nuts and seeds contain naturally occurring ant-nutrients which are a plants innate defense mechanism.  In fact, almost all plants have some form of anti-nutrient or toxic substance to protect itself from being eaten. These anti-nutrients can negatively affect our health if we let them. For example one anti-nutrient, phytic acid, inhibits the absorption of other nutrients in the food and can cause digestive distress and blood sugar issues for some people. Others contain substances such as lectins , which can irritate the gut lining and eventually cause skin conditions and autoimmune responses. In extreme cases, some beans and raw seeds are highly toxic when eaten raw.

To alleviate this problem, many popular diets today appease the masses and simply eliminate them completely from their plan and don't get me started on the debate in health and wellness circles on this topic. It is unfortunate because many of us can actually tolerate these foods, especially when they are prepared properly. Once the anti-nutrients are degraded with proper pre-treatment, these foods become excellent sources of nutrients.  

The concept of soaking and sprouting grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is not new. In fact, many ancient cultures around the world soaked, sprouted or fermented these foods and still do today. Over the years, they learned that preparing these foods in this way helps to alleviate the digestive distress and makes the nutrients more bio-available. The Chinese were the first people to sprout beans as they sailed on voyages overseas. The abundant vitamin C in sprouted mung beans prevented the crews from getting scurvy. Instructions for sprout dried peas for soups were found years ago in French cookbooks and bulgur, an ancient grain from the Middle East, is made from sprouted wheat. 

Ideally, grains should undergo a long ferment (such as traditional sourdough or beer). However, this is not always practical given our time and storage constraints. After fermentation, sprouting is the next best preparation as it can still help to reduce anti-nutrients while simultaneously increasing the nutrient density of the food. Soaking alone will also help in the reduction of anti-nutrients, though not quite as well as soaking.


It is important to mention that some of our population cannot tolerate these foods (particularly grains and legumes). Other people choose to omit them because they may feel better without them or are obtaining the nutrients in these foods from another source. We are all different and have different needs and belief systems that influence how and what we eat. For those who choose to eat grains, beans, nuts and seeds – aim to eat them in their properly prepared form as often as possible so that you can take in as much of their nutrition as feasible and reduce your chances of mineral depletion or digestive distress later. If you are unsure about whether you tolerate these foods well or not, it may be helpful to eliminate them for a period of time as a test. If you do eat them in your home, take the time to properly prepare them.  Your body with thank you!

Instructions for soaking grains and beans:

  1. Place your grains/beans in a glass bowl or large canning jar and cover with twice as much warm (not hot) filtered water.
  2. Add one tablespoon of an acidic medium like lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, or whey plus a pinch of salt to help breakdown the anti-nutrients
  3. Cover the bowl and leave on your countertop for 12 hours or overnight.
  4. Rinse the grains/beans until the water runs clear and cook as usual.  Cooking time may decrease slightly.

Instructions for soaking nuts and seeds:

  1. Place your nuts/seeds in a glass bowl or large canning jar and cover with twice as much filtered water. 
  2. Add one teaspoon of salt (for each cup of nuts) and stir to ensure the salt dissolves
  3. Cover the bowl and leave on your countertop for 12 hours or overnight.
  4. Rinse the nuts or seeds and eat right away or use a dehydrator or warm oven set to 15 degrees to dehydrate until they are dry and crisp.  Soaked nuts or seeds will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator.

Instructions for sprouting grains, beans, nuts and seeds:

The instructions for sprouting all grains, beans and seeds is the same for each, though the length of time it takes to sprout varies.

  1. Fill a canning jar about 1/3 full with your dried grains, beans, nuts or seeds 
  2. Add enough filtered water to cover by a few inches and cover with a sprouting lid or square of cheesecloth (be sure to secure it at the top).
  3. Soak overnight then drain and rinse well.
  4. Invert the jar into a bowl and prop it up so that it sits at an angle to drain and be sure to keep out of direct sunlight
  5. Twice a day, rinse the seeds and in two to five days the sprouts will be ready
  6. Store in the refrigerator to eat raw or until you are ready to cook them.