Proper Preparation of Grains and Legumes Video by Sarah Pope

Sarah Pope is a local chapter leader in Florida. She also blogs as The Healthy Home Economist.


By Sarah Pope

The focus of the Western diet on grain-based foods has contributed greatly to an explosion of chronic disease in the past few decades – especially in the very young in the form of eczema, allergies, diabetes and other auto-immune ailments.

The emphasis of nutritionists to avoid refined grains and to make whole grain foods the basis of one’s diet is certainly well meaning [cutaway to USDA Food Pyramid with grain portion at base outlined in bold]. However, it ignores the fact that traditional societies never ate these foods in the large quantities consumed today nor were ethnic grain-based foods prepared in modern fashion as quick rise breads [picture of store bread], granolas [picture of a box of granola bars], pasta and other rapidly cooked grain dishes [picture of Kraft Mac & Cheese and Hamburger Helper].

Traditional cuisines and pre-industrialized peoples from around the world took great care to soak or ferment their grains before consuming them as porridges, breads and casseroles. Prior to the introduction of commercial yeast, used to make bread rise quickly,[picture of a packet of yeast], Americans and Europeans alike made slow rise breads from fermented dough starters, commonly known as sourdough. In Mexico, corn was fermented for a minimum of several days before being made into a flat bread called tortillas. African cultures also soaked corn for addition to soups and stews. Even rice was carefully fermented in some Asian and Latin American cultures before inclusion in ethnic dishes.

Science has demonstrated the wisdom of these careful preparation methods as all grains and legumes contain phytic acid, an organic acid that blocks mineral absorption in the intestinal tract. Phytic acid is neutralized in as little as 7 hours of soaking in water with small amounts of an acidic medium such as lemon juice [picture of lemons] or cider vinegar [picture of cider vinegar]. Soaking also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in the hulls of all seeds [picture of wheat kernels] and adds beneficial enzymes which increase the amount of nutrients present – especially the B vitamins.

For those with gluten intolerance, soaking or fermenting gluten-based grains breaks down this difficult-to-digest plant protein; studies carried out in Italy have found that people with celiac disease can consume genuine sourdough bread without digestive distress or auto-immune symptoms.

A good first step when transitioning to traditionally prepared grains in your home is to soak a pot of breakfast oatmeal overnight. Many older people will remember that the instructions on the oatmeal box recommended an overnight soak before cooking. This was before the advent of quick oats and microwavable oatmeal packets, which caused people to gradually forget this beneficial traditional practice!

Soaked Oatmeal

To make oatmeal the old fashioned way, mix 1 cup of rolled oats with 1 cup of filtered water and 2 TBL yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice or cider vinegar. Cover and leave on the counter overnight or for a minimum of 7 hours. It’s important for the oats to soak in a warm kitchen or cupboard, not in a cold refrigerator.

After soaking, add 1 cup of additional water and sea salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for several minutes.

Serve warm in a bowl with plenty of butter or cream. A whole natural sweetener and fruit or nuts can also be added.

You will notice how quickly soaked oats cook in comparison with nonsoaked. You will also notice how much more satisfied you feel eating soaked oatmeal and that you stay full longer.

Soaked Pancakes

Pancake batter is easily soaked by mixing 2 cups of fresh whole grain flour with 2 cups of filtered water and 2 TBL of liquid whey, buttermilk, lemon juice, or cider vinegar.

After mixing, cover and leave on the counter overnight or for up to 24 hours. When soaking is complete, drain off any excess water, blend in 2 beaten eggs, ½ tsp sea salt, 1 tsp baking soda, and 2 TBL butter and fry as usual using a healthy oil like ghee or coconut oil..

Brown Rice

While rice is gluten-free and lower in phytic acid than most other grains, soaking prior to cooking is still best for those with any type of digestive complaint.

To prepare, mix 2 cups of short grain brown rice with 4 cups of filtered water plus 4 TBL yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, whey or cider vinegar and leave covered on the counter for a minimum of 7 hours.

Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, reduce heat and stir in salt and butter. Cover tightly and cook on low for about 45 minutes.

Soaking of Beans

Like grains, legumes contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, and require a careful soak before cooking.

For kidney shaped beans, put beans, a pinch of baking soda and enough water to cover in a large pot and soak for 12-24 hours. For non kidney shaped beans like black beans and other legumes, soak with water and 1 TBL of cider vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of dried legumes used.

For maximum digestibility, it is best to rinse and refresh the water and baking soda or the acidic medium once or twice during the soaking period.

Once soaking is complete, drain, rinse, add fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add a few cloves of peeled and crushed garlic if desired and simmer for 4-8 hours until soft.

If you’ve had trouble with bloating and gas from beans in the past, try the traditional method of preparation and notice how much more easily they settle in your stomach!

Choosing Breads

Fortunately, there are plenty of good quality breads on the market to buy that are traditionally prepared. While more expensive than commercial brands, they are decidedly more filling so you will find that you eat much less!

To choose the best breads, look for sourdough or sprouted breads made from freshly ground, organic flour without any additives such as gluten, soy flour, or vegetable oils. Be aware that if a sourdough bread has yeast in the list of ingredients, that it is not a true sourdough loaf. The sourdough bread I buy has only three ingredients: organic spelt flour, salt, and water.

Be sure to refer to the Weston A. Price Shopping Guide which lists many excellent brands to seek out small local producers; you can

order genuine sourdough breads if necessary.

Until next time, this is Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader wishing you all the best in the kitchen!

Sarah Couture Pope is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate in Economics from Furman University and holds a Master's degree in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for over ten years in the field of Information Technology where she designed and managed the implementation of financial systems for both government and corporate clients. She is currently raising three young children with her husband and has been the WAPF Chapter Leader of Tampa, FL since 2002.

11 Responses to Proper Preparation of Grains and Legumes Video by Sarah Pope

  1. Ian says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I enjoy eating steel cut oats, for safe and healthy consuming, the same 7 hour procedure is necessary or since they are “steel” does it require more hours or perhaps completely different procedure.

    I have been changing eating habits (less than two weeks) using guide and principles described by WAPF and never felt better.

    I absolutely in love with the writings, videos, blogs and information in any form put out by your organization, it is truly god send.


  2. Maria Iturrino says:

    I want to know how I have to do with soy I have to soak with baking soda or vinegar I love to do veggieburgue Do you know how?

  3. Nada says:

    I have been soaking lentils with just water. I will soak them with some lemon or vinegar added next time hopefully, but i was just wondering if soaking only in water provides benefit as well? I’m sure its better than not soaking at all, but how important is it for the water to have acid added? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I also soaked chic peas in just water. The soak lasted for more like 36 hours with one change of the water. Also hoped soaking was better than not. Seemed to digest very well. Will plan to add acid and a shorter soak for the next plan. So much to learn, it’s very exciting. Wish our country allowed for more time for ourselves and health and less work time. A traditional 4 day work week would be nice as full time. Work to live or Live to work…

  4. Justin says:

    Is it recommended to soak grits?

  5. gun runners says:

    So much to learn, it’s very exciting. Wish our country allowed for more time for ourselves and health and less work time. A traditional 4 day work week would be nice as full time.

  6. debbie says:

    thank you for video. i thought only black beans needed lemon juice or acv added. also what do i do with cooking water after beans are cooked? thanks debbie

  7. Scott says:

    Who/where prepares corn by fermentation,…? How does that relate to nixtamalization, which I understand is typically just a one day procedure, less than 24hours?

  8. henna says:

    I am so surprised that there are people who don’t soak grains and lentils !! .. Its a common practice in our culture that we are so used to that we don’t find it difficult .. its like the only way we has in mind when cooking these things even rice but very little time for rice and for red kidney beans and chic peas (garbanzo ) ,its a must to soak them over night and some use baking soda some don’t !

  9. Crystal says:

    I thought the only way to remove phytic acid was to soak the oatmeal, beans, rice, etc., in a phytase-rich water (by adding a teaspoon or tablespoon of rye flour, or water from previously soaked rice). Since phytic acid is an acid and baking soda is a base, these would neutralize, but would it be better to use the enzyme rather than an alkali to remove the phytic acid?

  10. Cathleen Graymez says:

    Is it necessary to soak sprouted green lentils (by tru roots), it’s for my toddler (18 months) and is it advisable to give her lentils when she doesn’t have all her molars in yet? Thank you

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