The first time I was told that I needed to soak my nuts I was like 'say what?'
I promise you this is a real thing. And it's something that can really help you look + feel amazing.
Why should you pre-soak plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, legumes + grains? These foods have natural antinutrients and enzyme inhibitors that keep their vitamins + minerals from being properly digested. Specifically, they're high in phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks some of the digestive enzymes we use to break down important things like protein + carbs.
Prevents us from properly digesting protein?? What? Protein is one of the reasons we eat legumes (or beans if you prefer) in the first place, right?
Besides nutrients like protein, phytic acid prevents minerals like calcium, (hello healthy teeth + bones) iron, (hello healthy blood) magnesium, (hello natural muscle relaxant) and zinc (hello immune + skin health) from being absorbed. So soaking is key. Soaking will neutralize + remove those antinutrients and enzyme inhibitors so that our body can absorb the goodness it needs to thrive.
If these foods haven't been pre-soaked, you may end up feeling gasy + bloated after your meal. I'm sure each of us has a story of that person who's had that problem. The one who whenever someone is like 'there's beans for dinner', people wanna order out. ;)
Pre-soaking these plant-based foods is one easy way to improve your digestion. Why? It leaves you + I feeling good for one. It also allows our body to absorb the vitamins + minerals as best as we possibly can. The more nutrients we take in, the more our body is rockin' because it's getting the fuel it needs to be awesome. This leaves us with more energy to do the things we love. Like go for a run. Play with our kids. Go on a hike. (Insert what makes you fabulous here)
How do you prepare plant-based food for easy digestion? Here are my best tips for you:
Work with dry goods + make sure the nuts are raw. I prefer organic too.
Soak each item in separate containers (ex. cashews in one jar, quinoa in another, black beans in yet another).
Soak them overnight in pure water. Cover the grain, nut or legume with enough water so that it's a few inches above the goods. They'll absorb water + expand as they soak. Add more water if you notice they've broken through the water line.
Drain + rinse really well the next day or before you're ready to cook. You'll be rinsing away those antinutrients. #loveit
It isn't necessary to close or put a lid on your overnight soaking goodness
Cook according to directions using fresh water.
Once cooked, drain + store in an airtight container in the fridge.
When cooking legumes + grains, you can add a piece of kombu to the cooking water. This helps improve (even more) the digestibility. #winwin
If you're running short on time, (because let's be honest, life can get in the way) rinse + drain your goods. Then store them (uncooked) in an airtight container in the fridge. It'll keep like this for a few days. Just remember to give them another good rinse when you're ready + have time to work with them.
I promise you'll notice a difference in eating nuts, legumes + grains after they've been pre-soaked. You can find many guides that say soak this bean for this many hours, + that nut for this many hours. I personally don't have time to keep that close of an eye on them. And you honestly don't need to.
I personally find it easier to put them in water at night or after dinner, then deal with them the next day. It's pretty difficult to 'oversoak' a nut, legume or grain. So put them in some water + sleep on it. ;)
I hear what you're saying. Soaking takes time + do you really have time to soak something for hours before you wanna use it? I mean that's why there's conveniently canned cooked legumes ready to use, right?!
Yes, in a pinch, a can of garbanzo beans makes whipping up some hummus much easier. Especially if you forgot to soak some dried chickpeas the night before.
But on those days when you're so well organized + you want to put in the little bit of effort required, it pays off. Why?
Dried goods are waaay CHEAPER.
You get to control all the ingredients and the amount of salt in your food.
Aside from the high sodium content, canned goods also contain BPA's + toxic preservatives like EDTA. The less exposure we have to these harmful guys, the better our long-term health will be.
Then there's the digestion piece. Cooking your legumes from scratch is so much easier for you to digest than what comes in a can. When things are easier to digest, you end up fuelling your body with more nutrients. More nutrients = a healthier, happier you. This will help you have more energy to do the fun things in life. We love that right?!
The most challenging part really, is making the soaking bit a habit. Once you've got that down, the rest is easy.
What's my best tip for making this a habit?
Each week, choose maybe two items you want in your diet that week. It could be two different beans, a grain and a legume. Some nuts if you want to make milk, etc. Then soak them overnight. And they'll ready to work with the next day.
Yess, it does take a smidge of planning, but having a jar of cooked lentils in the fridge can be a lifesaver.
They're perfect when you are in a rush + throwing together a lunch. Let's say you're making a salad + wanna add in some protein + iron. If you've got your pre-cooked beans ready to go, sprinkle them on your salad. Voilà. There's really no easier (or quicker) way to balance out your lunch.
I'll leave you with a recipe for nut milk. If you've never made nut milk before, do give it a try. Once you see how easy (+ cheap!) it is to make your own nut milk, you'll never buy it again.
makes approximately 4 cups
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed + drained
3-4 cups of pure water, depending on how rich + creamy you like you milk. (4 cups will create a consistency similar to skim milk. 3 cups will give you a creamier, richer taste)
Maple syrup, optional
- Add the pure water + drained nuts to a high powered blender
- Blend until smooth (approx. 1-2 minutes)
- Add in maple syrup to taste for a bit of sweetness
- Will keep in an airtight glass container in the fridge for about 4 days. (It also freezes really well)
There's no added stabilizers to keep this milk from separating, so you'll notice the water separates once the milk has been sitting for awhile. This is totes normal + okay. Gently give the jar a shake before each use.
Cashews are my go-to because they blend up so fine that straining out the pulp before storing + using the milk isn't necessary.
If you're using other nuts, (ex. walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, etc), use a fine sieve after blending to filter out that pulp. Reserve the pulp as you can freeze it or it'll keep in the fridge for a few days. It works well added into baking. You can dry it out to make gluten free 'bread crumbs'. Add bits to a smoothie. The world really is your oyster with this one. ;)
Now I would absolutely love to hear from you. In the comments below, share with me one of your favourite ways to use dried legumes, grains or nuts.