Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Soaking Grains

Have you ever soaked grains before eating them? It has only been in the recent past that people have stopped using this ancient, traditional practice. What's the reason to soak grains before eating them? All whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors which greatly reduce your body's ability to digest vital nutrients. Soaking the grains releases enzymes into a form your body can absorb more readily. Many people who have digestive issues and would normally have issues with eating grains (and in particular, wheat) such as irritable bowel, Crohn's disease and related ailments find they can consume soaked grains without the problems associated with grains and flour that is not soaked.

We are repeatedly told by "health experts" that whole grains are healthier than grain flour, which is true. Unfortunately, there also exists a large amount of confusion over what really is a whole grain. Companies selling grain products commonly use marketing language on packaging such as "whole grains" to convince the consumer that what they are buying is healthy. Beware! Most of the time what you are buying is actually some type of flour as the main ingredient and not a whole grain. This is where label reading is of the utmost importance.

Back to the importance of soaking grains. If you are going to consume grains, the best variety to eat are those that are sprouted and/or whole. The great news is that there are a variety of healthy grains to consume - in moderation of course, as many people have allergies and/or intolerances to wheat. Good choices include:
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Millet
The process is simple, it's just a matter of remembering to do it ahead of time. Soak grains like rice, millet, or quinoa at room temperature in water overnight. Add 1-2 tablespoons of whey, lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir -- this provides an acidic environment in which to produce fermentation. Fermentation is important for health because it allows the foods to develop good bacteria which is beneficial for your digestive tract and immune system.

Water by itself is fine to use as some grains begin sprouting in simple water (which means enzymes and phytic acid become neutral). If you do use one of the other methods besides just water, you will acheive a somewhat sour taste due to the acidic additive. Nutritionally speaking however, this is the best method to use. After you are finished soaking your grains you can add fruits, nuts, honey, real maple syrup, and healthy fats such as raw milk, butter, kefir, or cream.

If baking, soak flour in buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir overnight. Add remaining ingredients to flour the following morning. When your grains or flour has finished soaking, simply drain water and other ingredients out and move on to your next step of cooking or heating.

Suggested reading on the subject of soaking grains can be found in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and on the Weston A. Price Foundation web site.

No comments: