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.

Tim Boyd was born and raised in Ohio, graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in computer engineering, and worked in the defense industry in Northern Virginia for over 20 years. During that time, a slight case of arthritis led him to discover that nutrition makes a difference and nutrition became a serious hobby. After a pleasant and satisfying run in the electronics field, he decided he wanted to do something more important. He is now arthritis free and enjoying his dream job working for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

© 2015 The Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts.