Grains are an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and have, for thousands of years, been the staple food for most cultures.
The health benefits of grains are greatly improved by a few simple steps: soaking grains before cooking, and cooking them with a sea vegetable such as kombu.
Soaking grains overnight with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, then discarding the soaking water, accomplishes two important things — it removes the phytic acid which inhibits the absorption of zinc, calcium, iron and other essential minerals, and it transforms the grains from acidic to alkaline-forming. Cooking grains with kombu enhances the mineral content of the grains and further strengthens their alkaline effect.
According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions,
“All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound) in the outer layer of bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption…Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. Soaking in warm water also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amounts of many vitamins, especially B vitamins."
Many of the recipes we use in our kitchen and listed in our cookbook call for nuts or seeds. Like grains and beans, nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that can restrict our ability to digest the nutrients they contain.
Soaking nuts and seeds in water, then drying in a low oven or dehydrator, neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors and makes their nutrients more readily available.
Soak 2 cups nuts or seeds in filtered water to cover according to the soaking guidelines on this page. The next day, drain and rinse the nuts or seeds and spread them on a baking sheet in a warm oven (not more than 150˚F) or place them in a dehydrator. Cook or dehydrate until they are completely dry and crisp. This will take 6 to 12 hours in your oven, 1 to 3 days in a dehydrator.
Soak nuts in warm water to cover with 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt per 2 cups of nuts.
Almonds: Soak 12-18 hours
Cashews: Soak no more than 6 hours
Walnuts & Pecans: Soak 4-8 hours
“Raw” cashews are processed and roasted to get them out of their shells and to neutralize a natural toxicity. Soaking for more than 6 hours can make them slimy and unpalatable. After soaking, immediately roast for 12 to 24 hours in a 200° to 250° oven. Stir occasionally until crisp.
An alternative to soaking cashews is just to toast them since they’ve already been processed. (For more about cashews, see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, page 515, Crispy Cashews.)
Soak seeds in water to cover with 1 teaspoon salt per cup of seeds.
Sesame: Soak 2 hours
Sunflower, pumpkin: Soak 4-6 hours
Spread soaked nuts or seeds on a baking sheet. Dry in a 150°F oven for 6 to 12 hours or in a dehydrator for 1 to 3 days.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Place the nuts in a small baking pan. Roast them until they are fragrant and starting to brown. This will take anywhere from 6 to 12 minutes depending on the nuts and your oven. Watch carefully, though, as nuts can burn quickly!
You can also toast nuts in a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat, stirring the nuts often. This will take 6 to 10 minutes.
Don’t try to hurry things—you want to toast the nuts all the way through, not simply get them brown on the outside.
The information above is excerpted from Ceres'
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