I’ve had tons of emails lately asking if I soak my grains and how I do it and why I do it!
Most of the recipes on my site have not shown that I soak my grains. Mostly I did that because I know that many of my readers are just beginning to look into making changes toward healthy eating. I decided…if you are just starting out trying to switch over from fruit roll-ups to real fruit…from white flour to whole wheat…from boxed foods to foods made from scratch…it would be very discouraging to hear that you also should “prepare your grains 12-24 hours ahead of time by soaking them in something that is lacto-fermented in order to break down the phytic acid…”
It’s overwhelming enough sometimes just to try to get your kids to eat a green bean…and to wrap your brain around the fact that almost every food on the shelves that we might be used to eating has a no-no ingredient in it.
So, if you’re just starting out on the healthy eating trail…read over the information in this post and tuck it away for whenever or if ever you’re ready. Continue to take baby steps and make small changes. Read the Getting Real with Food series here to give you some basic ideas of where to start and what to do.
But, if you’re eating a lot of whole grains already and are used to baking from scratch anyway, and you want to take this nutrition thing one step farther…here’s some information for you about soaking grains that I am paraphrasing from Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”:
Eating whole grains is important because they provide vitamin E, B vitamins, many important minerals and fiber. But the phytic acid in the grain combines with the iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. They also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion.
So, Nourishing Traditions recommends that we soak our grains in either whey, cultured yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk…or in lemon juice or vinegar if you can’t tolerate milk products. Soaking them for at least seven hours allows the enzymes to break down and neutralize the phytic acid. Then, more of the good nutrients in the grain are released and all the good stuff is more readily absorbed in our systems and the grain is digested much more easily.
Okay…so quick re-cap. Eating whole grains is so, so much better for you than processed grains that have almost all of their nutrients stripped from them. Eating whole grains that have been soaked is even better.
How do I do this?
It’s really not hard…I just have to plan ahead a little more. And I don’t always soak everything even though I know I should. I try to just do the best I can. (That’s the goal right?)
So, here’s a quick run down of the basics of how I soak my grains when preparing recipes:
Pancakes and Waffles…I stir the whole wheat flour and the buttermilk together, cover it with a cloth and let it sit overnight. The next day, I add the remaining ingredients and cook the pancakes or waffles. They are SO YUMMY made like this!
Quick Breads and Muffins…I mix the flour with the butter (melted and cooled) or oil that the recipe calls for and add enough buttermilk to make it “soakable”. I let it sit overnight, then mix in the remaining ingredients.
Giant Breakfast Cookies and Breakfast Bars…I mix the melted butter, flour and oats with enough buttermilk to soak then let it sit overnight. I have found these to be VERY HARD to stir the next morning, so putting the soaked mixture into my food processor with the other ingredients so that it doesn’t take me 45 minutes (or until lunchtime) just to stir the silly things. Yea for food processors.
Tortillas…I mix up the tortillas as the recipes says, only I put in 1/4 cup less water and add 1/4 cup yogurt, kefir or buttermilk as I’m making the recipe. Then, I let them sit for the day, and roll them and cook them that night for dinner. They roll out so nicely after they’ve been soaked.
Breads, Rolls and Pretzels…These belong in the “I don’t soak these but I should” category. When I’m really on the ball, I make sourdough bread…but my sourdough starter isn’t starting anymore, so I need to get a new one going. In the meantime, I’m compromising and making Honey Whole Wheat Bread, and that’s okay with me. After I get my sourdough going again, I’ll post about it. Sourdough bread is so tasty!
Cookies and Brownies…I rarely soak these either, mostly because I’m lazy about it. When I do soak them, I mix the butter and flour called for in the recipe with a few tablespoons of buttermilk, kefir or yogurt…allow them to sit for a few hours, then add the remaining ingredients and bake.
I hope that helps. I’ll cover soaking other grains like rice and oats in the future. And, as I slowly but surely get around to it…I’ll go back through each of my site recipes and blog recipes and add a brief explanation of how to soak the grains if you choose to do so. That way, you have the option if you’d like!
And now, I think I’ll go grind me some flour and soak something. Because looking at all these recipes put me in the mood to bake.
(Like I’m ever not in the mood to bake?!) :)