Rice, amaranth, buckwheat, corn and quinoa have a complex makeup…in its whole, raw form they are actually not so easy for us to digest. Our ancestors innately knew this, which is why many soaked their grains overnight. This made it easier for the body to break it down and shortened cooking time.
The soaking of grains (as well as legumes, nuts and seeds) overnight, makes it more bioavailable for our body to use – reducing any buildup of gas or the possibility of indigestion. Grains, beans, seeds and nuts contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, a substance that is hard for our body to recognize and utilize and has been shown in studies to potentially interfere with the absorption of minerals such as calcium. (1) Not only does it grab onto minerals we need, it’s also been shown to inhibit pepsin – an enzyme needed for the proper breakdown of food in the stomach.(2)
The value of grains in our diet is very important as they provide much needed fuel for our body, burning slower than simple sugars while supplying fiber to help reduce the risk of many diseases. (3) Grains are also packed with antioxidants, vitamins (especially Bs) and trace minerals. Though they may not be appropriate for those with severe digestive issues, whole or sprouted grains may be a great way balance blood sugar levels and promote regular bowel movements.
Get the best from your grains.
- Soaking grains, nuts, seeds and legumes overnight (up to 24 hours) in 3 parts room temperature water with a small cap of raw apple cider vinegar (to help keep the water clean) will help decrease phytic acid. If soaking for longer than overnight – rinse grains and change water. Rinse clean before using the next day.
- Choose WHOLE grains locally grown and not genetically modified/avoid refined or processed grains.
- Eat a variety of foods with your grain – don’t make it the major source of calories in your diet. (4) Enjoy around 20-30% of whole grains in your diet.
Here is a simple breakfast recipe!
Whole Grain Breakfast Porridge
- ¼ cup wheat berries or bulgur, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup millet, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup rye kernels, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup barley/kamut or spelt flakes
- ½ rolled oats
- 10 cups water
- 1-½ tsp vanilla
- 1-½ tsp lemon juice
- 1 cup dried fruit (any combination of cranberries,
dates, raisins, apricots or cherries)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Soy/rice/almond or cow’s milk
Using a slow-cooker, prepare by rinsing the inner container with water. Add all the ingredients, except cinnamon and milk and mix gently. Cook on a low heat all night. Before serving, sprinkle with cinnamon and add milk as desired. Reserve extra in fridge for reheating. Makes 12 servings.
1) R. A. McCance and E. M. Widdowson (). Phytic Acid. British Journal of Nutrition, 2, pp 401-403 doi:10.1079/BJN19480069
2) Tannenbaum and others. Vitamins and Minerals, in Food Chemistry, 2nd edition. OR Fennema, ed. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1985, p 445.
3) Haas, Elson M. MD. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Celestial Arts, 2006. Berkeley, California. Pg. 324-5
About the author
Cindy is a registered holistic nutritionist and a foodie. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health. Her training in eastern dietary therapy as an acupuncturist also gives her a larger view about the affect foods can have on our body and overall wellness.