Welcome to Early Summer. This week is all about the preparation and cooking methods of grains, nuts, and seeds.
As you have seen in past weeks, we have asked you to soak grains overnight (i.e. buckwheat and rice) and soak raw nuts overnight. And recently we asked you to prepare a breakfast that requires the overnight soaking of oats. You may be wondering why we do this or is it really necessary.
Soaking these plant based foods is an ancient preparation technique that has been all but lost to us today. Soaking, along with other preparation and cooking methods such as sprouting, have been set aside in favor of convenience. However, these methods have great nutritional benefits, and once you get used to putting in a little extra time, you are likely to find these techniques becoming essential in your kitchen.
First, let’s talk about nuts and seeds. We ask you to purchase either raw nuts/seeds or unsalted dry roasted nuts. Raw nuts/seeds have never been heat treated and contain their full impressive organic nutrition profile because of this. Dry roasted nuts/seeds have been heat treated and do not contain the usual vegetable oils that come along with traditional roasted nuts. Both kinds of nuts serve a purpose in our meal plans. Raw nuts/seeds are fantastic, they are the ideal kind of nuts to consume, but we must prepare them properly to fully enjoy their nutrition profile. As part of nature’s genius, she provided raw nuts/seeds with substances that prevent them from spouting until the perfect environment is available. This basically means that the nutrients in raw nuts are locked inside until they are made available. If we consume raw nuts/seeds we miss out on much of their nutrition! Raw nuts/seeds also contain naturally occurring phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that prevent the proper absorption of nutrients in our guts and can be damaging if consumed regularly. The solution to this problem is to either soak or dry roast raw nuts/seeds using low heat. Both of these preparation methods allow a dormant raw food to become nutritionally available to us while being far easier to digest and absorb.
Second, let’s talk about grains. While soaking grains is not absolutely critical, there are huge health benefits! As with raw nuts and seeds, grains are a plant food that contains phytic acids and other enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid is a naturally occurring substance that is actually beneficial to the plant foods that contain them, but are not beneficial to us! Phytic acid is termed an “anti-nutrient” because when consumed, it has the ability to negatively affect our own digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients. In high amounts, phytic acid can actually cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies in our body; specifically calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc, which each play an important role in our health. Soaking grains overnight helps to eliminate some of the phytic acid present, break down proteins so that they are more easily digested, and cuts their cooking time down.
As you can see, soaking raw plant foods such as nuts, seeds, and grains has its nutritional perks. While soaking takes hardly any time at all, the key is to plan ahead so that you remember to do so! To soak nuts, seeds, or grains, place the needed amount in a medium or large bowl and cover with water until fully submerged (warm water is ideal). Let sit for at least 8 hours, or ideally overnight. Drain, rinse, and prepare according to your recipe.
I hope you have enjoyed your 5 Seasons Diet experience so far, and are experiencing the amazing benefits of living this way. Feel free to share your experience with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tristan Faville, MScN