Seeds, Grains, Legumes and Nuts

Seeds, Grains, Legumes and Nuts require proper food preparation to activate enzymes that maximise digestibility and release minerals and vitamins.

Traditional cultures intuitively understood the importance of proper food preparation without understanding the science behind these practices. To improve iron and zinc absorption from seeds, legumes, grains and nuts, a number of traditional pre-cooking preparation techniques can be applied.

Serene Nature House refers to these preparation methods as the 4 S’s:

  1. Soaking
  2. Sprouting
  3. Souring
  4. Steaming
  • The Science of Seeds, Grains, Legumes and Nuts
  • Soaking, Sprouting, Souring, Steaming
  • Breakfast Cereals & Flour
  • Enzyme Inhibitors:

Seeds, grains, nuts and legumes we find in stores were once alive plants. They all come from trees or plants or stalks of some sort and when they were alive, they contained active enzymes. These enzymes caused the vitamins and minerals within to help the plant grow and produce the food we recognise.

When the foods are picked or harvested, enzyme inhibitors take over and block the enzymes. Consider it nature’s way of protecting the food’s ability to grow and reproduce until the conditions for germination are right. What we are left with is food that contains enzymes in a not-so-helpful, dormant state.

What we fail to realise is that active enzymes increase vitamin content dramatically (Vitamin B and carotene) and even produce some vitamins that are not available when the enzyme inhibitors are in place (Vitamin C).

  • Phytic Acid:

Another significant issue is the phytic acid content in grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Phytic acid is found in the bran and germ portion and acts as the storage for phosphorus and other minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc too. When the plants are harvested the plant goes into shut down mode. These minerals are locked from being released.

Luckily, the plant itself contains the enzyme to break down the phytic acid being phytase. This is the key to unlock the minerals. Because of the action of enzyme inhibitors, eating grains, legumes, seeds and nuts that are not properly prepared will not make these minerals available in the body.

Further Reading

All About Phytic Acid

How do we unlock the phytic acid, neutralise enzyme inhibitors, and break free the vitamins and minerals so our bodies can use them?  We turn the key.  We activate the phytase and other enzymes.

  • Soaking:

An option for preparing grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is soaking them in advance, sufficiently covered in water (approximately one and half cup of water per one cup of grain, legume, nut or seed) for a specified period of time at a recommended starting temperature (see below instructions).

You then drain the water and add back to the grain and legume about the same amount of fresh water for cooking on the stovetop. Nuts and seeds can be consumed, within 5 days in the fridge, after soaking without further cooking or you can dehydrate at a heat of 46 degrees Celsius for 12-24 hours.

There is conflicting information regarding the use of soaking mediums, such as apple cider vinegar, lemon, salt and dairy mediums such as whey and kefir. After carefully considering the various materials on soaking mediums for grains, nuts, legumes and seeds, Serene Nature House believes the correct starting temperature and length of soaking times is more important than the mediums used.

Soaking Grains:

Grains include: amaranth, barley (pearled or hulled), oats (groats or rolled), maize, faro, rice (basmati or brown), wild rice, rye, spelt and wheat (including cracked wheat and freekeh).

Most grains can be soaked in warm water for 18-24 hours. To start off with warm water you need to mix in half the amount boiling water and the other cold water - this will start you off at 60 degrees Celsius.

For grains that do not contain sufficient amounts of phytase like oats, brown rice or maize, you can soak them with 2tbsp’s of ground rye or buckwheat (gluten free) per cup of grain. Rye and Buckwheat contain a lot of phytase.

You can also soak freshly ground flour from these grains when you want to make your own cakes or other pastries. Just add the relevant amount of water to the flour that you intend on using for your recipe.

Soaking Legumes

Legumes include: Kabuli chickpeas, split peas, black or brown lentils, green or red lentils and whole mung beans.

Chickpeas and larger legumes can be soaked in hot water for 12-24 hours, Split peas and Mung Beans can soaked in warm water for 12 hours, and lentils can be soaked in warm water for 2-6 hours.

Legumes also contain lectins (proteins) and oligosaccharides (long-chain sugars) that are difficult to digest. Soaking stimulates the process of pre-digestion.

Soaking Nuts

Nuts include: walnuts, pecans and almonds.

Nuts like Pistachios, Macadamias, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts and Cashews are believed by many to not have many anti-nutrients, therefore soaking is not necessary. You don’t need to be paying exorbitant prices for these activated nuts.

Almonds can be soaked in warm water for 12 hours, Walnuts can be soaked in warm water for 4 hours and Pecans can be soaked in warm water for 4 hours.

Soaking Seeds

Seeds include: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, quinoa and buckwheat.

Al these seeds can be soaked at room temperature for 4-8 hours.

Serene Nature House is proud to supply Loving Earth's Activated Australian Almonds and Activated Almond Meal!

  • Sprouting:

Germinating grains, legumes, seeds and nuts to make sprouted grains is a very effective strategy at reducing the phytic acid content and other enzyme inhibitors. Germinating or malting means that the grain, legume or seed is soaked first and then the water is strained and the grain, legume or seed is rinsed and placed in an environment where it naturally begins to sprout or germinate. The sprouted grain can then be dehydrated for later consumption or to be freshly ground into the healthiest flour.

Serene Nature House supplies the Biosnacky Sprouter Kits which contain directions for use.

Sprouted bread, prepared from sprouted wheat, rye or spelt, otherwise referred to as Ezekiel Bread, is renowned for being one of the healthiest breads in the world!

Sprouted Rice provides a nourishing nutritional boost, making valuable nutrients bio-available for absorption. Germinated rice also produces gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA) an important neurotransmitter which appears to assist in the regulation of the immune system, anxiety, restful sleep, as well as fat metabolism. In Japan, it is referred to as Hatsuga Genmai and it is a rich source of B vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Serene Nature House is super proud to be supplying sprouted wheat, rye, spelt, oats, rice, and a pancake mix. All the hard work has been done for you and we deliver these products at unbeatable prices.

Furthermore, we have our own milling machine so that we can mill these grains for you to make fresh flours. Most flours found on the shelf in supermarkets have been milled many months ago. The nutritional value of grain is completely eliminated after a few weeks of milling. The only way to have flour is fresh! Otherwise it is dead food and no amount of soaking will revive it! You can use our sprouted grains to make your own Ezekiel Bread!

Instructions for Sprouting

For all legumes, grains, seeds and nuts follow the soaking instructions above. Sprouting is based on observation and the freshness of the legumes, grains, seeds or nuts used. In general, sprouting should begin between 1-3 days. Depending on your preference, you can consume immediately when you see the sprouts or wait a further day or two until the sprouts get bigger.

  • Souring:

Souring is commonly referred to as fermenting.

Traditional cultures didn’t have canning jars or supermarkets. Thankfully, they had a simple and effective method of preservation - lacto-fermentation.

Naturally occurring bacteria are responsible for lacto-fermentation. The “lacto” portion of the term refers to a specific species of bacteria, namely Lactobacillus. Various strains of these bacteria are present on the surface of all plants and are also common to the gastrointestinal tracts, mouths, and vaginas of humans and other animal species.

Lactobacillus bacteria have the ability to convert sugars into lactic acid through a naturally occurring fermentation process.

Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful or putrefying bacteria. Lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. That is why lacto-fermented foods are considered probiotic foods. (Probiotic means “for life”).

Lacto-fermentation really is more art than science. The science part is simple: lactobacillus (from a prepared culture, fresh whey or just naturally occurring), plus sugar (naturally present in vegetables, dairy or grains), plus a little salt, minus oxygen (anaerobic process), plus time, equals lactic acid fermentation.

When it comes to grains, nothing beats sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is prepared through lacto-fermentation. It is important to distinguish between proper sourdough preparation and preparation that uses commercial yeast. The former process involves the use of a natural leaven or wild yeast to start the process of fermentation. The latter process relies on commercial yeast to speed up the process. Unfortunately this process increases the alkalinity of the bread and creates a disproportionate amount of yeast.

Further Reading:

Proper use of natural leaven

Serene Nature House is proud to be supplying Impasto Forno Antico amazingly nutritious sourdough breads prepared with a 40-year old natural leaven and not commercial yeast!

We are also proud to be supplying you with natural whey liquid from Schulz Organic Farm!

  • Steaming:

The three basic steps of parboiling are soaking, steaming and drying. The process has been utilised mainly for rice preparation i.e. seela rice or wheat preparation i.e. bulgur. These steps involve the steaming of the rice and wheat grain to remove the outer husk (bran layer), where most of the phytic acid content is, and boost the nutritional profile of the grain. The treatment is practiced in many parts of the world; particularly India and the Middle East.

Serene Nature House is proud to supply organic bulgur and forbidden red, black and green rice!

Note on Soybeans & Flaxseeds

Trypsin is an enzyme produced by the body involved in the breakdown of many different proteins. Soybeans contain unusually high amounts of trypsin inhibitors which inhibit the activity of trypsin, making it difficult to digest proteins. Soybeans also contain a very high amount of phytic acid.

Fermentation deactivates the action of these trypsin inhibitors and phytic acid. Soybeans are best consumed in their fermented state – this includes tempeh, miso, tamari and natto. However, high heat can also deactivate the trypsin inhibitors. For this reason, Serene Nature House is happy to supply Bonsoy Milk which has been prepared by soaking and hulling the soybeans first to remove the outer shell of the bean, reducing its phytic acid content and then heating it at sufficient high temperatures to deactivate the trypsin inhibitors. Many suppliers of soy milk, soy flour and soy derivative products do not properly soak and hull the soybeans before preparation.

Serene Nature House refers our customers to the following article which provides supporting evidence to these contentions:

Is Soy Good or Bad for Me?

Furthermore soybeans and flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived compounds that have been shown to act as endocrine disruptors i.e. at high dosages they can interfere with hormones.

For this reason increased intakes of soy in unfermented or inappropriately prepared forms such as soy milk, soy flour and as emulsifiers such as soy lecithin should be avoided. Flaxseeds are also not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women or women with hormonal problems. Serene Nature House recommends substituting flaxseeds with chia seeds.

Further Reading:

Pros & Cons of Phytoestrogens

Note on Oxalic Acid

There is another less known anti-nutrient called oxalic acid that occurs in some leafy greens in high quantities that binds onto calcium and magnesium making them unavailable for absorption.

Oxalic acid has been identified in higher quantities in spinach, purslane, swiss chard, beets and silverbeet.

Traditional cultures always blanched these foods before consumption. The process of blanching involves adding the vegetable to boiling hot water for 2-3 minutes and then quickly removing it from the hot water and placing it in a large bowl of ice or cold water for an additional 2-3 minutes before cooking.

  • Breakfast Cereals & Flour:

The most concerning aspects of highly processed grains is the consumption of breakfast cereals and puffed grains and the consumption of flour that has been sitting on the shelf for a long time.

  • Breakfast Cereals:

Breakfast cereals are produced by a process called extrusion. Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder where they are exposed to high heat temperatures.

These products are then subjected to sprays that give a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch. All the nutrients are destroyed and the fatty acids are denatured.

Even boxed cereals sold in health food stores are made using the extrusion process. They are made with the same kind of machines and mostly in the same factories.

The pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes that turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance, irrespective of whether the grain is organic or not.

Serene Nature House does not recommend the consumption of any breakfast cereals that are composed of puffed grains. These foods are toxic and dead. Serene Nature House provides sprouted rolled oats that can be added to milk or yoghurt for breakfast and a delicious sprouted pancake waffle blend. Serene Nature House will be releasing shortly our own range of breakfast cereals using rolled oats, spelt and rice and our delicious selection of Australian dried fruits, nuts, seeds and coconut

Serene Nature House does not recommend muesli and granola mixes as they often contain high amounts of sugar and oils. This goes for mueslis and granolas that are marketed as healthy as well because they contain agave syrup and sunflower oil.

  • Flour:

Most flours found on the shelf in supermarkets have been milled many months ago. The nutritional value of grain is completely eliminated after a few weeks of milling. The best way to have flour is fresh! Otherwise it is dead food and no amount of soaking will revive it! Serene Nature House always aims at supplying our customers flour prepared as fresh as possible.

At Serene Nature House we have our own milling machine, from Bee Sustainable, so that we can mill our sprouted grains for you to make fresh flours.