Soak & Sprout for Optimal Health
Nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes are all very beneficial for our health, but they can be difficult for the body to digest. They’re all high in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, meaning they’re binding to the minerals in your food and then blocking the absorption of these key nutrients in the body.
Phytic acid causes your enzymes, which help you assimilate and digest food properly, to essentially turn off— or at least lessen their activity. These are also known as anti-nutrients. It’s basically just natures way of protecting the nuts, seeds, grains, and beans from harmful circumstances that would hurt or kill them before they’re able to germinate and thrive as a plant.
But if we’re eating these things, we need to neutralize the phytic acids and enzyme inhibitors, aka anti-nutrients before we eat them! That way we can really get the benefits of nuts and grains without the added stress of digestion added on top.
When we soak nuts and grains and beans, we’re better able to absorb the great nutrients from these plants because we’re giving them optimal conditions to sprout which removes the anti-nutrients and enhances the good stuff. Remember, nuts and grains in particular are super great for building ojas! And legumes are a staple in Ayurvedic health as well — look at all the lentils and mung beans in your kitcheri! But if the body isn’t able to really absorb the food, it’s not helping — in fact, as I discussed a little bit above, it may even block the absorption of other minerals and key nutrients from being used by your body.
Soaking and sprouting is especially important if you experience gas, bloating, or other digestive disruptions after consuming beans or grains. But even if you don’t have any obvious or intense reactions when you eat these foods, your body will still really benefit from soaking and sprouting. It actually enhances the amount of vitamins and minerals that are available within the plant.
To soak your nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes you’ll need a clean quart mason jar or a large glass bowl, a cheese cloth, sea salt, and filtered water. Soaking time and measurements vary depending on what you’re working with, but here is the general gist:
1. Add your raw nuts/seeds of choice in the mason jar
2. Warm your filtered water slightly (not hot)
3. Pour enough water in the jar to cover the food entirely
4. Stir 1-2 tbsps sea salt into water
5. Cover the mason jar with cheesecloth, tighten cloth with the mason jar ring or a rubber band
6. *Let soak for at least 7 hours on the countertop
7. Strain and rinse the food of choice
8. Pour the food onto a large plate or cookie sheet to dry and then store in a dry airtight container in the fridge.
You can use the soaked nuts/seeds for making homemade milk, or you can snack on them as is. If you want the nuts to be crispier (because soaking them will soften them), you can bake them on a baking sheet in the oven on a low temperature like 150F for up to 24 hours, checking in regularly to see if they’re crisp enough for you. You could even add spices to them before baking!
You can simply take the one step of soaking your foods, which in and of itself will greatly help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients, or you can go to the next level by sprouting them as well. This will really turn the food into a super nutrient-dense, living plant. Sprouts are going to be more nutritious than their raw seed counterparts, so if you’re looking for a simple way to pack a punch in your daily health, this is perfect.
1. Place the raw seeds/grains/beans in the mason jar (amount will vary depending on how much you’re wanting to make)
2. Cover with filtered water (make sure they’re totally submerged— there should be about 2 inches of water above the seeds)
3. Cover jar with cheesecloth and tighten it with the mason jar ring or a rubber band
4. *Let soak for 7-10 hours in a cool, dry place
5. After the soaking, drain and rinse the nuts/seeds/grains/beans. Replace them in the jar again, close the jar with the cheesecloth again, and then turn the jar upside down, propping it up at a 45 degree(ish) diagonal angle in a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup.
6. Let sit like this for about 12 hours, and then rinse the seeds and put them back in their 45 degree angle again (this circulates the air and ensures good drainage through all ingredients while creating optimal circumstances for sprouting)
7. Repeat steps 6 and 7 as needed until you see the ingredient begins to sprout. You’ll literally see the stem (and maybe even leaves) starting to pop through the seed. It’ll take about 2-4 days in most cases.
8. Once the plants are sprouted, pour them onto a plate to dry completely.
9. Store them in a dry air tight jar in the fridge.
Eat them raw or sauté them and add to your salads, stir fries, curries, kitcharis and soups!
*Note: remember soaking and sprouting time will differ depending on what it is you’re working with. Be sure to do a quick google check of how long to soak your grain/bean/seed of choice before starting the process! Don’t stress about it too much, though. It’s hard to ruin this soaking process.
So in conclusion: soaking and sprouting your grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes is a wonderful way to ensure your body is absorbing and assimilating all the nutrients found in these foods, while even enhancing the nutrients available within them.