This was a new concept for me. I had heard about it, but I didn’t think it was something important for me. And to show my cooking ignorance, according to Will soaking beans is just something you do. When when I mentioned it to my mom, she gave me this, “It’s okay, sweetie, you’re learning.” Okay then.
But it’s more than that! Soaking beans, seeds, and grains doesn’t function just to make them easier to cook. These foods contain anti-nutrients that make digestion of the foods and uptake of nutrients more difficult. These difficulties can be alleviated by soaking or sprouting. In addition to helping with digestive issues, this is important for eczema sufferers like me because, while legumes and grains may be fine in their soaked state, in an unsoaked state they can cause inflammation and exacerbate eczema. This is obviously something to avoid, eczema or no.
This sounds great! So what do I do?
First, read up on soaking and sprouting. Each food will have a different time that this must be done for; a few hours to over night for soaking and a day or more for sprouting. Kitchen Stewardship has a very thorough walk-through and explanation of spouting, complete with very helpful pictures. Energy Grid has a table of how long to soak and sprout all your legumes and grains. This table is one to keep handy! If you have The Eczema Cure, it also has a nice graphic of soaking and sprouting times (very good book; it’s what first got me on the path to an elimination diet).
This is where you meal plan comes in handy. Use it to determine what you are cooking that will benefit from soaking or sprouting and plan ahead so that you can accomplish that in time. For example, I have to start sprouting mung beans during my smoothie detox (when I will also be making vegetable stock). It doesn’t take much time once you get it started, just maintenance, space, and equipment.
What I highly recommend (along with pretty much every resource I’ve read) is to soak/sprout a large batch (but no more than a pound – too many beans can cause problems with mold) of the legume or grain you need, cook it, and freeze what you do not need yet. Now the next time you want to make something with that legume/grain, you don’t have to worry about soaking ahead of time. If it is something you would normally eat raw (like nuts), dehydrate them or bake them in the oven on the lowest setting until dry and crunchy (this may be overnight).
Tomorrow is the big day! I’m picking up a few things at the store tonight and will do a huge shopping trip tomorrow, as well as prepare various foods for freezing. Time to start healing!