Since we started the week here talking about what healthy eating really means, I thought this might be a good time to discuss the many questions I receive about the idea of soaking grains. There is definitely conflicting information on this subject. If you’re wondering what I’m even talking about when I say “soaking grains“, you may want to read this post.
If you’ve been reading here long, you know that I’ve done quite a bit of struggling with the idea of soaking grains for better digestion. I learned so much several years ago from reading Nourishing Traditions about eating real, whole foods and the importance of healthy fats and well balanced nutrition. Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, feels very strongly after much research that it is important to soak oats, wheat flour, and most other grains in something like whey, yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk, lemon juice, or vinegar for at least seven hours to allow the enzymes to break down and neutralize the phytic acid so that our bodies can digest the grain.
My initial reaction after reading Nourishing Traditions was to feel that I absolutely had to soak all of our grains before I made any breads, muffins, pancakes – everything! - otherwise I was being a horrible mother. The book wasn’t condemning, I just took everything I read in it straight to the heart, and had a huge desire to do everything right as I transitioned our family into healthy eating. I never really came up with a soaked bread we liked and many of the soaked muffins and such just had a funky flavor, but I kept trying anway. I had to soak – I had to soak – I had to soak. And if I didn’t soak, I felt guilty – like I was feeding my kids junk food. Sounds extreme, but that’s how I felt about it.
As time went on, I began to feel very overwhelmed by the need to soak all of our grains. Was anything really wrong with me simply stirring up and baking some muffins without first soaking the grains? Why did healthy cooking have to be so difficult? On top of that, my family didn’t really love the taste of my soaked grain baked goods. Truthfully, neither did I. Keeping up with soaking became a tedious chore for me, especially as my life became more full with my family and with keeping up with the work on this site.
Somewhere in there, I read this article from Bread Beckers, detailing why soaking grains is not necessary. It is a well researched, well written article. And it made me question so many things I’d learned about soaking grains.
As I’ve wrestled with this through the years, I received many questions about soaking grains from you, my readers. Here I am wavering on my conviction on this subject and you are wanting my thoughts and opinion on the matter. I don’t want to steer anyone wrong! I don’t want to be the authority on this subject! I’m not saying soaking grains is right. I’m not saying soaking grains is wrong. Shucks, I don’t even really know what I’m saying.
I’m saying I’m tired. I’m saying I’m a little overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there about what it truly means to eat a healthy diet where grains are involved. I’m saying that I give up on trying to have all the answers about grains. Soaked grains, sprouted grains, no grains at all? I don’t want to cop out, I just want simplicity and balance. I wish I could provide you with something more solid.
For our family, at this point I have landed on eating whole grains, mainly freshly ground grains, and trying to work in a nice variety of them. For the most part, I am not soaking my grains right now. And I don’t feel guilt over it. Mostly. ;)
I’m doing the best I can for my family and I feel peace with this decision.
So what are your thoughts about soaking and sprouting grains? I’d love to hear where you have landed on this subject.