As much of a surprise as this may be, I don’t have a lot of experience with soaking. (for those who don’t know, I’m referring to the practice of soaking grains, seeds, and nuts in an acidic medium like traditional cultures used to do) Especially when making baked goods. See, I came to really start my journey down the “Real Food” path just over 2 years ago. I spent months adding new foods to our menu and cutting out the bad stuff. And then about 8 months later I got pregnant (yay for good food!).
And I became stagnant in my journey.
I was able to keep up with most of what I had already learned, but was struggling to conquer everything. So instead of wearing myself out, I just kinda sat there on a bench beside the road! But now that my baby is getting older, and especially after the conference, I’ve decided I need to dive back into learning new techniques for preparing our food.
My Thoughts on Soaking
As spelled out in the book “Nourishing Traditions”, grains, nuts, and seeds must first be soaked in an acidic medium for at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight, before using for consumption. And the idea behind it is a simple one. You see, grains (oats, rice, wheat, corn, spelt, etc) are really seeds. If you plant a wheat berry (what flour is before it’s pulverized into flour) it will grow into a plant. Just like seeds and nuts do.
Now think about this for a second; seeds have these natural enzyme inhibitors that help protect the germ (the part that grows) until it is planted, otherwise it would go bad.
Basically a God given natural preservative.
But when we eat grains with those enzyme inhibitors intact it can cause two things. One, our body has to use it’s stores of nutrients to actually digest them and two, we’re unable to get the full nutrients out of the grain itself. So on either account, we’re losing nutrients.
It seems that lately there has been much debate on whether or not the act of soaking really does anything. Or benefits us that much. Many other food bloggers I know are not completely sold on the idea and lots and lots of ‘scientific type’ folks poo poo the idea completely. On the other hand I happened to ask Sally at the conference whether refined flour or unsoaked flour was a bigger enemy and she actually, without hesitation, said she would eat white flour before unsoaked whole wheat flour. Because she finds it effects her more.
Now honestly, I’m no expert on either side of the debate. I don’t have my own lab where I can study and research away. But I do know how it effects my own body. And the bodies of my family.
You see, being a mom I’m privy to a lot of bodily functions and I know how food really effects my kids. I gave my 3 year old a granola bar once made from unsoaked nuts and seeds and it upset his tummy so much, he couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. And while it hasn’t happened to that effect since, if he does eat a small amount of an unsoaked bar he still gets (as he calls it) funny poopy and you can tell he’s had a hard time digesting it. But a bar made with soaked nuts? You’d never know. So I do kind of think that soaking is beneficial in some ways, even if it comes to be that it only ‘predigests’ our food a bit. Because I think anything we can do to help our bodies digest food and run more smoothly is a good thing.
On the other hand I don’t know if I’d necessarily eat white bread over unsoaked. Having PCOS and hormone balance issues, I just have a hard time thinking that the extra insulin spike from white flour is better than mal absorption. For me and my body anyways. One of these days I’d like to cut out all grains for a few weeks and then eat unsoaked bread one day and a few days later soaked bread and see how both effect me. Some day!
So over the next few weeks, months, or till I get sick of it, I’m going to try and post once a week about my new “Adventures in Soaking”.
And tell me, where are you in this? Never heard of it or haven’t started? Seasoned soaker?
Where do you stand in the debate?
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