Years ago when my son was in the Waldorf Kindergarten, the teachers started soaking grains they ate for snack (oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and millet) overnight. It reminded me of how (as a young child) I used to watch my aunt and my grandmother soak rice before cooking it. My son’s teacher recommended that I read a book by Sally Fallon called “Nourishing Traditions” that examines the wisdom behind ancient cooking preparations–like soaking grains.
According to the book, the reason for soaking grains is to reduce the phytic acid–which binds to minerals like zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium and takes them out of the body before they are able to be absorbed. I’m no doctor or chemist, but the way this was carefully explained made a lot of sense to me and I started soaking grains that we ate regularly (like rice and oatmeal) when I remembered. I was not very consistent…
It wasn’t until recently that I really got serious about soaking grains–and nuts. My son was complaining about stomach aches after eating oatmeal (certified gluten free so I know it wasn’t the gluten) and I started having stomach aches after eating nuts in my morning quinoa. The clincher was when I went in recently for blood work and I was severely (off the charts) deficient in a multitude of basic vitamins and minerals. And I thought I ate a healthy diet!
So now–without exception, I am soaking all of the whole grains and nuts that my family eats. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s really easy!
How I Soak My Grains
A few times a week, I measure out a couple cups of grain, cover it by at least an inch of filtered water, and then add an acid–apple cider vinegar or whey from the yogurt that we always have on hand. I give it a quick stir and let it sit on the counter (unrefrigerated) overnight. Most grains are ready to cook in the morning, but since I love quinoa (that has a high phytic acid level) I try to soak it 24 hours before I cook it.
My stomach definitely feels better and I hope that I am retaining more of the minerals that I try so hard to eat! I have 2 pounds of almonds soaking to make into salted, roasted nuts and almond flour. I’ll let you know how it goes!