Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Soakig and Sprouting: The Why and the How To

Seeds, legumes, grains, and nuts are powerhouses of nutrition. Fortunately for those little seeds, legumes, grains, and nuts growing in and above the ground, nature has built in a defense mechanism against their natural predators. Those defense mechanisms are nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances, including enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens. These “bad guys” can slow or stop the absorptions of many nutrients in those foods, and they can also wreak havoc on the digestive system of the predator (i.e., those creatures eating those foods, which includes humans).

Fortunately for us, we can soak these foods (and sprout them), which has the effect of breaking down the “bad guys,” and increasing the nutrient bioavailability and absorption. The foods also become more alkalinizing. “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.” (Nourishing Connections)

Benefits of Soaking and Sprouting

• Soaking turns the nutrients into simpler forms.
• Enhances digestibility of foods. Destroys enzyme inhibitors, making easier for the body to digest the food and assimilate the nutrients.
• Makes the food more alkaline-forming.
• Encourages production of beneficial enzymes.
• Breaks down gluten in those foods containing it.
• Removes or reduces phytic acid and tannins.
• Allows proteins to be more readily available for absorption.
• Increases amounts of vitamins.
• Helps neutralize toxins.

How to Soak and Sprout

Soaking and sprouting is easy. Just allow yourself time in advance to prepare foods, and when finished, you can store them in airtight glass containers in the refrigerator (2-3 days for soaked food; up to a week for sprouted). Alternatively, you can dry them in a dehydrator or oven on the lowest possible setting for 24 – 48 hours to remove all moisture (or put in oven at the lowest setting- usually 150 degrees F- for about 2 hours (up to 24 hours), stirring occasionally, until dried). Store dehydrated food in refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness.

Soaking Directions

1. Place seeds, legumes, nuts, or grains in a glass bowl (one type of food per bowl). Don’t use metal or plastic bowl.
2. Cover with filtered water (keep in mind that some expansion will occur). You may need to add more water if too much expansion, pushing the food out of the water, has occurred.
a. For beans, use hot water.
b. For nuts and grains, use warm water.
c. For seeds, use room temperature water.
d. For beans, Change (rinse and add new) water after every 8 hours of soaking.
3. Add sea salt, approximately 1 tsp for every cup of nuts, seeds or grains. Add apple cider vinegar or Kombu to beans or legumes.
4. Cover bowl, and leave in room temperature, or warm spot in kitchen.
5. See chart below for soaking time. In general, you can soak overnight, and they will be ready in the morning.
6. Rinse food well after soaking.

Sprouting Directions

1. Rinse and drain food 2-3 times daily. Keep them in a nut milk bag during this process.
2. After 2-3 days, they will be ready to eat. They should be crisp, and never sour (which can be an indication that they have gone bad).
When you have finished soaking and/or sprouting, you can eat the food plain, make nut milks, or cook with them. You can even eat sprouted lentils with some sea salt and spices as a dry, crunchy snack!