Updated: Apr 17
Do you remember this old song? Beans! Beans! The Magical Fruit! The More You Eat, The More You… But it doesn’t have to be this way. And maybe your fatigue could be related to this story.
Beans, seeds and grains (in small quantities) can be an amazing source of protein and vitamins.
Beans and other seeds have their own natural defense system that includes anti-nutrients such as phytates, saponins and trypsin inhibitors. That is to say, the stuff was evolutionarily designed so the bean can pass through our systems unscathed.
These anti-nutrients are also what allow beans to be stored for a long time without going bad.
Pretty great if you’re a bean or other seed, but pretty lousy if you’re a human trying to eat them without having endless gas, bloating or weird poops.
Additionally, the phytic acid that protects the bean also prevents you from absorbing all the good nutrients that beans have to offer. Beans, then, cause gas and discomfort because they are hitting your gut in a form that’s hard to digest.
When you properly soak beans, seeds and grains you make them digestible by denaturing phytic acid as well as removing lectins and saponins.
Over time, eating unsoaked beans can really irritate the gut and contribute to health problems, such as IBS, SIBO and leaky gut.
Some harder beans, like kidney, black, and navy beans also have oligosaccharides (large, complex sugars) that can completely do a number on your digestion.
Hope I have convinced you that it is indeed a good idea to prepare them in a manner that allows you to enjoy the nutrients without many side effects.
Thus… Follow the recipes below and you should be able to enjoy beans, nuts and seeds with no issues at all!
If you don’t have many issues as a rule of thumb, always soak raw nuts and seeds in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons of sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Use enough to cover the nuts with lots to spare.
QUICK METHOD: Once soaked, roast nuts and seeds for 15 minutes on 300F in the oven.
***I recommend doing this as soon as you get back from the grocery store for convenience. Once complete, add them to a mason jar for quick access.
IF YOU HAVE A DELICATE DIGESTION, I SUGGEST THE RECIPES BELOW:
Raw Pecans & Walnuts
Soak 4 cups of pecan or walnuts in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons of sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Rinse and place on a stainless steel baking sheet and bake in a warm oven set at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Soak 4 cups of almonds in warm water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Rinse, place on a stainless steel baking sheet, sprinkle with salt/honey/other flavorings if desired and bake in a warm oven set at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally. (Note: Most almonds that are available have been pasteurized or otherwise treated. If they are no longer raw, soak them according the instructions for cashews below.)
Because “raw” cashews are not truly raw (Heated to 350F while in their shell to neutralize a toxic oil called cardol), it’s not necessary to dehydrate them at a low temperature to preserve enzymes. Soaking still makes them more digestible, though! Soak 4 cups of cashews in warm water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt for no more than 6 hours. (Because they are not raw they do not contain valuable enzymes that prevent spoilage, so 6 hours is the max). Rinse, place on a stainless steel baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake at 200-250F until dry, turning occasionally.
Soak 4 cups of raw peanuts in warm water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Drain and rinse. Place on a stainless steel baking sheet. Bake at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Soak 2 cups of raw pumpkin seeds in warm water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24hours). Drain and rinse if desired, but they’re good unrinsed as well. Spread on a stainless steel baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle with flavorings such as salt and honey or chili and lime before placing in the oven. Bake at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Raw Sunflower Seeds
Soak 4 cups of sunflower seeds in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons of sea salt for 7 hours. Rinse and place on a stainless steel baking sheet in a 105-150F oven for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Soak all grains (except white rice) for 24 hours in water (enough to cover) with a tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice.
This preparation will affect cooking instructions.
Instead of a 2:1 ratio for grain to water, use a 1:1 ratio.
Cooking time will also be significantly less (around half) since the soaking will partially cook the grains.
You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. With each use, you will increase the friendly bacteria in the solution, and it will break down more lectins and phytic acid.
After 4 times of use, you will be breaking down 90% of the anti-nutrient factors.
(Chickpeas included; they are also called Garbanzo Beans after all!)
Kidney shaped beans and dried/split peas
Add a pinch of baking soda and enough water to cover in a large pot and soak uncovered for 12-24 hours. Drain, rinse and cook as usual. I usually add some bay leaves when cooking beans as well.
Examples of kidney shaped beans include:
· Red kidney beans
· White kidney beans (cannellini beans)
· Pinto beans
· Anasazi beans
· Black eyed beans (black eyed peas)
· Great Northern beans
· Lima beans
Non-kidney shaped beans (and other legumes)
For more oval shaped beans and other legumes, soak for 12-24 hours in filtered water to cover plus 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of dried beans/legumes used. Drain, rinse, and cook as usual.
Examples of non-kidney shaped beans include:
· Black beans (turtle beans)
· Navy beans
· Fava beans
· Adzuki beans
For maximum digestibility, it is best to rinse and refresh the filtered water and baking soda or the acidic medium once or twice during the soaking period. If you forget, no worries. I try to always soak beans for the full 24 hours instead of just overnight.
I also go big when doing Chickpeas. I soak uncooked, dry chickpeas for about 36hrs in filtered water with a lemon wedge squeezed into the filtered water from the start of soaking. You will see a few bubbly water patches. The lemon accelerates the breakdown of phytic acid making nutrients more bioavailable nutrients and easier to digest.
Strain, discard the water and rinse.
Cook in fresh filtered water brought up to the boil then on low for an hour.
Strain and make what you will...
I LOVE to make roasted Garbanzo Beans. Just roast them on 180C/350F until crispy and then drizzle olive oil, salt and dried herbs over them and mix as a crunchy snack once cool.
Isabela Fortes is a Board Certified Holistic Health Expert,
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher Level II, Certified yoga therapist.
She is a mother of two and works with client in Southern California and virtually anywhere in the world.
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