Adventures in Soaking

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.

The Debate

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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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. I am super ready and excited. I have thought about soaking my grains but seriousy all this stuff is so overwhelming! Thanks for this topic and I look forward to more on it!

  2. Thank you for doing this. I go back and forth on this because I really haven’t noticed a difference either way, but I’d really like to do the “right” thing!

  3. I’ve done a bit of soaking when it comes to meals (oats to make muesli and beans) but not much baking related so I’m excited to read about that.

    My favorite part of this post was when you talked about stagnating. I’m 20 weeks along and just now getting back to cooking. Luckily my husband was a great help and made most of the meals using my recipes which were somewhat NT-style anyway so I don’t think we backslide much but it’s hard to go easy on myself when I want this to be a time when I eat really well for both my and baby’s sake. It seems like most preggos I know are talking about how much better they are eating now that they are pregnant. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this.

  4. I’d never heard of soaking grains before and then over the last few months I have read about it in several places, but still haven’t tried it yet. I’m looking forward to hearing about your soaking adventures!

  5. This is a great topic to post about…especially the whys and hows behind it. I’ve read about it on so many blogs, but never have been entirely sure why people do it. Now you’ve got me hooked. I’d like to see where this goes…..

  6. I keep intending to research soaking, as I’ve heard about it. I’m looking forward to your future posts!

  7. I am new to soaking. Recently I was looking for a granola bar recipe and found yours. I love things (cookies, bars, muffins, etc) made with oatmeal but had noticed in the past that my stomach didn’t feel right after eating some of these things. When I read that you soaked and dehydrated your oats I tried it. The granola bars I made have not bothered me at all. I would like to try soaking the nuts also but I think I need a dehydrator. My oats didn’t end up looking like yours..

  8. I’m also very excited to see your future posts. I haven’t attempted to soak anything yet even though I do believe my family would benefit from it. I have to remind myself that baby steps are still considered improvement as long as they are steps in the right direction. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all the improvements I’d like to make.

  9. Oh thank you for addressing this issue! I’ve been thoroughly confused by all the controversy, and just don’t know what to think now. For now, I’m choosing the middle road which, for me, means that I will continue to soak when I can (couldn’t do any harm), and when I can’t, I won’t be overly worried.

    Thanks for this great post!

  10. I appreciate that you aren’t stating that it’s proven that soaking does what it says in Nourishing Traditions and by the Weston A Price Foundation in general. I haven’t read anything conclusive yet either, only comments by people who say they can digest these foods better as a result. I soaked, etc. with the best of them years ago and didn’t benefit, despite following directions carefully, etc. so either I’m an anomaly or it doesn’t work well for some people. I was a WAPF chapter leader and directly asked Sally, etc. on the chapter leaders forum but it went nowhere at the time.

    I’d be happy to read good studies that prove that this does what they claim. I just want to know the truth.