The history of soaking and sprouting grains, nuts and seeds is long standing. It is known that ancient Chinese doctors recommended sprouts for healing many illnesses over 5,000 years ago. The Chinese also carried mung beans on long ocean voyages and sprouted them throughout their journey. This prevented scurvy as sprouting makes vitamin C more bio-available (more easily absorbed). Virtually all pre-industrialized cultures soaked their grains before consumption, some examples include: India, rice and lentils, Ethiopia, teff, American pioneers, sourdough, and Scotland, oatmeal (Original instructions on Quaker Oats called for overnight soaking).
“According to Dr. Edward Howell, enzyme specialist, our ancestors ate most grains in partially germinated form (sprouted). Grains standing in stacks in open fields frequently began to sprout before they were brought into storage. Our Modern farming techniques prevent grains from germinating as often the goal is a longer shelf life.” – Sally Fallon
Soaking and sprouting grains, nuts and seeds aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients including vitamins and minerals.
Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are naturally occurring in the outer layer of bran. Phytic acid combines with many minerals in the intestinal track including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc and blocks their absorption. Lack of these important minerals can lead to serious mineral deficiencies, imbalances and bone loss.
Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid allowing nutrients including vitamins and minerals to be more easily absorbed and assimilated.
How to use and incorporate soaked and sprouted nuts, seeds, and grains into diet
Sprouted nuts and seeds can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, in sandwiches, salads, toppings for vegetable dishes, as additions to baked goods and more! Raw sprouted grains contain irritating substances used to detour animals from eating their shoots. These substances are neutralized in cooking, therefore sprouted grains should be lightly steamed or added to soups, casseroles or be used for baking.
*Note: Alfalfa sprouts should be avoided as they contain canavanine which can be toxic; this is not a concern in mature alfalfa plants as it is metabolized during growth.
- Grains, nuts, and seeds can be sprouted. Amount of time varies on type (See image below)
- Legumes can be soaked overnight in warm water and whey (if available)
- Grains can be soaked overnight in warm water and whey (if available) or yogurt (if available)
- Nuts can be soaked in warm water and Himalayan salt or other unrefined mineral rich salt
Make sure to thoroughly rinse off grains, nuts and seeds after soaking to wash off all phytic acid and enzymes inhibitors and discard of all water used for soaking and rinsing. Nuts and seeds can be consumed immediately after soaking, sprouting and rinsing. Since soaking and sprouting make nutrients more readily available, they are more susceptible to spoiling. Soaked nuts and seeds can be refrigerated up to 4 days. For longer storage they can be dehydrated or roasted at low temperatures.
-Brenda Meeuwenberg, NTP