I know, I know; it all sounds very strange and silly. But the reality is the practice of soaking is very important for keeping your tummy happy (and super easy to accomplish) so stay with me!
What’s with all the soaking?
Nuts, seeds, grains and legumes all contain a nutritional inhibitor and toxic substance called phytic acid that makes them very hard to digest. Eating too much of these foods without treating them can lead to nasty things like digestive issues, mineral deficiency and bone loss, as the phytic acid latches onto calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption and goodness.
You see, in the days of old, after these foods had been harvested, they were stored outside in the open and exposed to the elements, which helped to naturally break down all their bad bits and bring about germination – or sprouting. So, by the time they reached the dining table they were far more digestible!
Moreover, our ancestors instinctively soaked, sprouted, activated and fermented their foods, and it has really only been in the recent years since industrialization that these traditional food preparation methods were switched out for their refined counterparts.
“Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains. Soaking in warm water also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.”
How do I do it?
Don’t fret – it’s easy!
- For legumes and grains, soak them for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature in water with 1-2 tablespoons of an acidic medium such as whey, lemon juice, vinegar or yogurt – this will help to neutralize the phytic acid and other nutritional inhibitors. Make sure to discard the soaking water and rinse them off before cooking!
It’s really all about planning a tiny bit in advance and getting into the habit – if I need a batch of quinoa for lunches throughout the week, I’ll put it in a bowl to soak the night before. If I’m a little behind the eight ball (a somewhat regular occurrence) I’ll start it soaking first thing in the morning and cook it up for dinner that night!
- For nuts and seeds, soak them for about 8 hours (again – I find overnight works well) in plenty of water, as they tend to sponge it up, along with a tablespoon of salt and then pop them in a single layer in the oven at 50 degrees (just go for lowest temperature your oven allows) to do their thing for 12-24 hours.
Yummy and crispy! I make a batch of homemade almond milk with my activated almonds every few days and dry out the pulp, so I am constantly stocked with a supply of activated almond meal too!
Best wishes for your soaking adventures! x