FAQ-Grains, Seeds, Nuts, Beans

  • Sprouted soybeans/beans
  • Toasting/heating sprouted grain products
  • Commercially available sprouted grain products vs. Homemade
  • Wheat germ
  • Sprouted wheat flour
  • Quick oats
  • Wheat berries
  • Irritating substances found in sprouts
  • Are beans in the canned considered soaked?
  • Making fermented bean paste
  • Phytic acid
  • Soaking whole grains
  • Oat groats
  • Muesli

Grains, Nuts, Seeds, Beans

Q. Please tell me if I should consume sprouted soybeans and other beans?

A. We don’t recommend soybean sprouts as the toxins are still there and soybean sprouts were not consumed in Asia. They used mung beans for sprouting. Sprouting increases some nutrients but also some toxins (which protect the sprouts from animals eating them). Also remember that in traditional societies, the grains and legumes that were sprouted were then cooked.

Q. Does it harm sprouted wheat breads, tortillas, etc. to heat/toast them?

A. No, they should be cooked.

Q. Are the nutritional benefits from sprouted wheat breads that you buy different than the benefits from soaking grains at home?

A. It is hard to say, we are suspicious of some of the additives and techniques used in commercial sprouted breads. The healthiest breads are those prepared by genuine sourdough techniques.

Q. I am having some digestive problems. I recently started consuming a kefir smoothie to which I add wheat germ. Any suggestions?

A. I do not recommend wheat germ. For one thing, it is rancid. Furthermore, it is difficult to digest.

Q. How is sprouted wheat ground into flour when it is wet and mushy?

A. When you sprout the wheat, you then have to dry it–either in an oven or a dehydrator.

Q: Do you recommend quick oats?

A: We do not recommend quick oats–they have been altered in some way, probably not good. If you soaks regular oats, they will cook as quickly as quick oats. However, even quick oats are better than extruded cereal!

Q: Where do I find wheat berries? Can you buy sprouted ones?

A: Most health food stores carry wheat berries–Whole Foods carries them. I don’t think that the bulgur sold is stores will be sprouted–you will have to enquire about this. But you can purchase sprouted wheat flour on the internet and make bread with it. I don’t think all the elements will be broken down as much as if you do sourdough but it is better than using plain whole wheat flour.

Q; Can a grain such as rolled oats or other flaked or steel-cut grain soaked overnight be eaten raw as muesli or should it always be cooked?

A: I do not recommend this.  These grains should be soaked and then cooked.  Otherwise you put a strain on the digestion.  In all cultures, grains are cooked.

Q: Should we eat grains raw, since heat damages them?

A: The extrusion process is very high temperature (above the boiling point) and at the same time high pressure.  This combination is what destroys the proteins in the grains but the temperatures of regular cooking are fine for grains.

Q: What oats should I eat?  Are the phytases destroyed in the processing of oats?

A: We recommend rolled oats soaked overnight in an acidic medium and then cooked.  Use rolled oats–they hydrate better than steel cut oats. I am not sure what processing does but my guess is that it diminishes phytases and leaves the phytic acid in tact.  So soaking is really necessary to activiate the remaining phytases.  Personally, if I don’t soak my oats, I get a horrible reaction from them.

Q: Does dry-roasting make the nuts and seeds more digestible than raw and used as a short-cut to soaking and dehydrating or is it always best to soak them first then dehydrate them?    I’m questioning the dry-roasting method as to digestibility.

A: Yes, dry roasting gets rid of some of the inhibitors, but not as well as the soaking and dehydrating.

Q.  What are the irritating substances found in sprouts?  Do micro-greens contain any problems?

A.  The worst one is canavanine, in alfalfa sprouts–you will find disagreement about this on the internet, but it really is not a good thing.  Most sprouts should be cooked or steamed before being eaten–that will get rid of a lot of problematic components.

Q.  Are beans in a can considered soaked because they are in the water in the can?

A.  Beans should be soaked–that is the problem with canned beans, they are softened without the soaking so all the inhibitors are there.

Q.  Can I make the fermented bean paste recipe out of Nourishing Traditions without whey?  Many of the other fermented recipes say you can use extra salt if allergic to dairy products, but this recipe does not give that option so I’m not sure.

A.  I don’t think I would risk it–the beans might not get acidic enough, and then they it would not be safe.

Q.  Some say that phytic acid is not a problem and that sprouting is not necessary.

A.  We do think phytic acid is a problem in grains and legumes because they block mineral uptake. Some people have enough phytases (enzymes that break down phytic acid) in their gut so that this is not the problem but there are many other antinutrients in grains and legumes, such as gluten, enzyme inhibitors, tanins, and lectins. Proper preparation gets rid of these along with the phytates.

Q. Whey, yogurt, cultured milk, buttermilk, lemon juice & vinegar are all suggested for soaking whole grain flours.  Is one, any better than the others?  And how much should be used?

A. In my experience, kefir works the best.  Equal amounts of flour and soaking liquid gives a very thick batter.  Start like this and then the next morning you can thin with water if you want something thinner.

Q. After the allotted soaking time what do you do with the soaked flour?  Is it just added into the mix or does the soaked flour need to be baked and dried before using in a recipe?

A. Follow the recipes in Nourishing Traditions.  After overnight soaking, you add the rest of the ingredients and make pancakes, muffins, etc.

Q. Your recipes don’t say to pour off your soaking water for rice and other grains.  Should you pour it off and use new water?  Can you do it either way?

A. For whole grains (not rolled or cracked) you would pour off the water and rinse.  But you can’t really do this for things like oatmeal as the soaking water is absorbed.

Q. I was wondering what WAPF thought of oat groats and their nutritional value compared to rolled oats.

A. To really hydrate oat groats and reduce the anti-nutrients, you would have to soak them several days and I think you would find them too sour for your taste.  With rolled oats, you don’t have to soak as long—overnight will do.

Q. I recently started grinding oats the night before, and soaking them in water until the next morning.  The result has been less than satisfying:  the muesli now tastes very bitter!  What did the Swiss and the people on the Hebrides do?  They did eat lots of oats!

A. I do not know why they are turning bitter. They should be soaked in acidulated water–water with a little whey, vinegar, lemon juice or yoghurt added.  Then they should be cooked very well the next morning.  The taste should be sour rather than bitter.

I do not know how the people of the Outer Hebrides prepared their oats–this would be a very interesting subject to pursue.  The Swiss consumed rye (made into sourdough bread), not oats.

35 Responses to FAQ-Grains, Seeds, Nuts, Beans

  1. SA says:

    Sprouting v Flour(in acid meduim)
    Hi – Can you clarify which process has a greater impact in reducing phytic acid/inhibitors thus releasing the vitmains/minerals

    a) Soaking and then sprouting the seed or
    b) Adding an acid meduim to wholemeal flour and lettting it soak for 24hrs

    Also which acid meduim has the greatest impact in reducing phytic acid/inhibitors buttermilk, kefir, yoghourt, lemon juice or vinegar

  2. Kristie says:

    Chia Seeds
    I have recently started eating a chia seed product that is minimally processed (without heat) by slicing the seeds into a powdered form. Would you recommend soaking to improve digestibility and inactivate enzyme inhibitors or is this not beneficial since the seeds are not in their whole state? I know in NT it is recommended to sprout seeds but what is your opinion on eating some non-sprouted seeds in addition to a WAPF diet/CLO/etc.?

    • enoichered says:

      I have been eating a number of different seeds, including chia,every day for years with no problem. I put a spoonful of each into a coffee grinder and then mix them with half a dozen dried fruits, goji, mulberry sultanas and others and then I add almond milk and a half a dozen different kinds of nuts, which can also be ground if you don’t have too much time in the morning to chew them all of which are healthy and nourishing and I recommend it.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    sprouting nuts
    Should I be soaking the nuts until they sprout or is it ok just to soak overnight and then dehydrate?

  4. Libby says:

    If I am sprouting my wheatberries, do I still need to soak the flour from them?

  5. MC says:

    Sprouting, Soaking, Nuts
    Libby- It is an either/or thing. You can sprout your seeds or soak the ground flour in an acid medium. You don’t have to soak your sprouted wheatberry flour.

    Elizabeth- To neutralize the anti-nutrients in nuts, it is my understanding that you just soak them. I think it would be fairly difficult to sprout some types of nuts.

    Kristie- Sprouting is not the only option for seeds- you can also soak your split chia seeds in filtered water w/ whey. Chia seeds are a little more difficult to sprout- you have to mist with water rather than pour water over them.

    This is based on research I’ve done on my quest to follow the WAPF Nourishing Traditions way of life. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, or the like. Good luck!

  6. Nic says:

    What about grains?
    What about wholegrain brown rice? Must you sprout.. can it even sprout! I’m confused, also because traditional Asian diets don’t do that to their grains.

    Also, what is your take on noodles/pasta made from wholewheat or brown rice or kamut or spelt etc. Are they still beneficial, or should we only stick to the WHOLEgrains?

    And what about quinoa? I know they are seeds, not technically grains,does that mean they have to be sprouted?

  7. Tamara says:

    I didn’t see an answer to the question regarding issues with microgreens. Are any of the issues with sprouts relevant to microgreens?

  8. Tony says:

    Spouted wheat
    How would you rate the sprouted wheat that is sold in health food stores?

    I have purchased some sprouted winter wheat flour ( Shiloh farms ) at whole foods. Is this stuff worth it?

  9. Carisa says:

    Soaking oats makes my kids sick
    Both of my sons complain of severe stomach pains when they eat oatmeal that has been soaked. I’ve tried soaking it in different acids (buttermilk, yogurt, vinegar,ect.) but they still complain. Sometimes they even throw up. My oldest son has multiple food allergies and my youngest is lactose intolerant. They can both tolerate oats in other forms: granola bars, instant oatmeal, cold cereal, etc. Is there something about soaking oats that could make them more allerginic?

  10. Seth says:

    Can i replace whey in fermented food recipies with leftover material from another fermentation (like my leftover sauerkraut juice)? It seems like it would have the dual effect of preserving with acidity and also provide a good starter culture but I worry that the bacteria are different from the ones I want and might mess with the outcome.

  11. Charlotte says:

    If I consume raw milk and eat sprouted bread, is it okay to pass on soaking and sprouting nuts? I have extremely limited refrigerator space and have read that nuts go rancid very quickly.

  12. Bel says:

    Coconut meat
    Question: Does coconut meat benefit from soaking? If so, what are the guidelines for soaking It?

  13. Jack Fischer says:

    Oils and digestion
    How are coconut oil and ghee in terms of digestion and overall healthfulness?

  14. Cornelia Vellenga says:

    Hello, my husband was just diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Would raw milk be appropriate for him to drink? To help the reversal process?
    Thanks, cv

  15. Peter Protopapa-Jones says:

    Canned Beans
    Hello, I read the part about canned beans not being soaked but mereley softened but I am a little confused as to why the brine they are in for a long period of time is not considered soaking them? Do the softeners stop the antinutients from being removed?

    Thanks if you can eleborate smilies/smiley.gif

  16. Urbanfarmer says:

    Is it necessary to soak whole wheat flour in kefir if I am making a traditionally leavened sourdough bread that proofs for 12 -24 hours. Does the sourdough starter get rid of the phytic acid?

  17. Sheila Donohue says:

    Are chia seeds beneficial. Like mixed into a kefir smoothie? Do they require any special preparation?

  18. Kathy says:

    Getting fin ealmond flour from soaked and dried nuts?
    I have tried coffee grinders, my blendtec, and a vitamix dry blade to try and grind a find almond flour. it either turns to meal or butter. any recomendations on a good almond flour grinder?

  19. Lisa says:

    Sprouted flour need to be soaked?
    Do I need to soak my sprouted spelt flour before using? If not, is it okay to use this flour for waffles and pancakes? (Since it’s a shorter cook time??)

    Also, what is the history of peoples using sprouted flours?


  20. Mila says:

    I kind of think with all the preparation necessary to eat grains (so that they’re less harmful) indicates that grains are a waste of time. (For me anyway). You must really want your grains that badly if you’re willing to go through such trouble.

    I think root vegetables are the best option if one wants some nice filler carbs. The thing I always remember is that the minimum carbohydrate required for optimum health is 0! I eat vegetables because they taste good, but I don’t rely on them for my nutritional needs. 🙂

  21. Keshia says:

    Is baking an effective form of cooking grains once they have been soaked overnight with an acid? For example, my favourite grain recipe is apple crisp. Does it work to use rolled or flaked grains that have been soaked overnight and use these as the topping?

  22. Keshia says:

    “Mana Bread”
    There is a product found at most health food stores called Mana Bread. It is a sprouted bread, which I think is partially raw – or cooked on very low heat. It is kept in the freezer.
    Are you familiar with this product? Is it a good way to eat sprouted grains?


  23. jenny says:

    what about taking phytase as a supplement?
    It seems like there are a few companies with a phytase supplement. If one took that, would eating without sprouting/soaking-dehydrating be reasonable?

  24. Pat Merkel says:

    Is Ryvita Rye Crisp Breads good for you? Are the phytates inhibited in this form of Crisp Bread?


    Pat Merkel

  25. J says:

    Asians do too eat sprouted soybeans!! They’re delicious. At least in Korea they do. I’m sure in other Asian countries too.

  26. Milla says:

    How we prepare whole oats in Russia
    In Russia, historically, we always made ‘tolokno’ from oats – my grandmother passed the recipe on to me.

    You sprout the oat groats for about 2 days, then steam them overnight. After that, you lay them on a tray and dehydrate overnight in a very low oven (about 40 Celcius); when dry, you turn up the heat and roast them until they colour and smell nutty. We stored them like this.

    To make porridge, we ground (finely, or coarsely, depending on what consistency we want the porridge) these oats in a mortar and pestle (a grinder works too of course); then soak in kefir or sour milk overnight. Cook with milk into a porridge (very quick if the oats were finely ground); if using coarser oats, we usually cooked them overnight in a very low oven with milk in a cast iron pot.


  27. Michelle says:

    Is it ok to just soak my nuts overnight with only a very small dehyration or is the dehydration particularly important.

  28. Sarah Lewis says:

    Nuts shelled or in shells?
    Is it ok to buy nuts to soak that have been shelled? I have heard that they can have mould on them. If so, would the soaking and dehydrating deal with this?


  29. Susan says:

    Asians definitely eat sprouted soybeans. My family is Korean and we both buy soybean sprouts and the market and sprout our own when we have the time. However, the variety used for sprouting looks different than the kind used to make tofu, etc. The beans are smaller and are intended specifically for sprouting. And no, I’m not confusing them with mung beans. We also eat mung bean sprouts, so I know the difference.

  30. Rune Dahlgreen says:


    How do you turn wet flax and sesame seeds into a flour/paté without drying them and without mortar and pestle?, since mortar and pestle takes too much time and drying in the oven takes time and energy, that is unnessecary if you can grind flax and sesame seeds while they are still wet after their overnight soaking, I would really like to find out about this, does anyone have a solution? Or is there any benefit to the dehydration proces other than making it suitable for Grinding to flour?

  31. Justin says:

    How about grits. I’m a skinny guy who’s weightlifting and I’m always trying to get more carbs. Are grits a grain and if so do I need to soak them? Thank!

    • LOL says:

      LOL, yes grits are a grain. Grits are ground corn kernels. Corn needs to be nixtamalized to get the most benefit from it, and minimize any antinutrients.

  32. Amy says:

    If you soak and then dehydrate nuts and seeds, according to Nourishing Traditions, this activates the enzymes to neutralize the protease inhibitors. My question is….if I then roast the nuts or seeds, doesn’t that destroy the enzymes which I just worked hard to activate? Am I back where I started, with protease inhibitors present and no enzymes to neutralize them? Or, once the enzymes are neutralized, are they permaently neutralized and will not return even I then destroy the enzymes from roasting? This is the one thing that was never clear to me and I can’t find information on. Thank you for your help!

  33. rene says:

    hello, thank you for the informative post. just wondering, should i soak wheat germ as well? how about instant oat, quick cook oats, chia seeds ? will soaking diminish the nutritients?

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