Who needs a good soak?

April 6th, 2010 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments

This week I continue to share the tips and techniques I have learned from the authors of Becoming Raw to create a balanced diet that will promote heath. Instead of continuing to focus on individual ingredients, I want to arm you all with a few simple ways to boost the benefit of the nutrients you already consume. 

Today let’s discuss the benefits of hanging out in water (aka soaking).

When I woke up this morning Toronto was getting a cleansing dose of rain. I know that will result in cleaner streets, greener parks and the fresher smell of spring. After a long run or a stressful day I find a  hot bath makes all the difference in my attitude (I know this is a luxury soon lost in parenthood so I’m enjoying it now). So, it is no surprise that a good soak can also have a really positive effect on a number of foods. 

This Crunchy Granola (p.262) includes soaked almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flax.

Soaking is a common practice in the raw food lifestyle but many people may be unaware of how this practice impacts the nutritional status of foods. Let me give you the details in an easy-to-digest bulleted list:

  • Many foods contain compounds called phytates.
  • Phytates bind to minerals and cannot be broken down during normal human digestion (so we lose out on the nutritional benefits of eating these foods)
  • Soaking breaks down the phytate-mineral bond and frees up calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium for absorption in our intestine (a pretty important bunch of minerals for our bones, immunity and energy).
  • Soaking also destroys enzyme inhibitors and improves digestion (possibly lowering the amount of protein and other nutrients you need to consume in order to meet your body’s needs).
What foods should you soak?
Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax*), lentils, mung beans, and some grains all benefit from soaking. You don’t need to soak things for long to break that phytate bond. I usually soak nuts and seeks overnight or when I’m at work, about 4-8 hours. I typically soak grains and pseudograins (buckwheat, quinoa) a little longer, around 8-12 hours because it seems to create a more enjoyable texture.

Make sure you drain and rinse your soaked nuts, seeds and grains. Yes, this is where the * comes in. Flax and chia benefit from soaking but you cannot rinse them once they have blossomed into their true gloopy form. Since you know in advance you won’t be draining the water, use less and make sure its fresh.

The first time I enjoyed a soaked walnut I was impressed by the fact that it tasted sweet and had none of the bitter aftertaste I was accustomed to. All that bitterness heads down the drain with the soak water.

Are you a soaker (either in the tub or in the kitchen)? 

What is your favourite way to use soaked nuts, seeds or grains?

In other news, the Book Publishing Co. has graciously allowed me to post 4 recipes from Becoming Raw, so I want your help in deciding which ones to post. Let’s start with a selection of salads. Would you prefer to see the recipe for:

  • Brilliant Broccoli Salad;
  • Elegant Greens with Strawberries, Almonds and Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing; or
  • Three-Melon Salad?
Training Update:
After a great first day back at work I did 10 kms with negative splits. I started the first km at  a good relaxed pace and increased my speed each km. It is a really fun way to play with speed and I finished the workout feeling energized.


  1. Posted April 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Brilliant broccoli salad, please!

  2. Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Three Melon Salad sounds unusual. I'm sure they are all good.., but with melon season on the way, it might be good to check that one out.

  3. Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    thanks for the reminder that I should be soaking, I don't have a dehydrator, do you know if I can dry them another way to use at a later time?

    I vote for the Brilliant Broccoli Salad.

  4. Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Another vote for Brilliant Broccoli. I have to admit, I've done more tub-soaking. But freeing walnuts of their bitter taste certainly sounds like good incentive.

  5. Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I'm happy to see so many broccoli fans!

    tyrah, there are a few options – you could warm them in your oven on the lowest temperature with the door slightly open (a ball of tinfoil works well), you can lay them in the sun (since summer is coming), or use them in creamy preparations such as smoothies, soups, nut creams, puddings, and pates.

    Tracy, I hope the experience changes your mind about walnuts.

  6. Posted April 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I've never had broccoli salad… So my vote is for that.

  7. Posted April 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I'm not a fan of broccoli–so if you can post a recipe convincing me to try it–I would go with that! BTW, I am a bathtub soaker–100%! I love a long soak! Best way to relieve stress in my opinion. . . plus a great place to read, too!

  8. Posted April 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    I vote broccoli salad!! I love broccoli!
    Pure2raw twins

  9. Posted April 8, 2010 at 12:25 am

    The melon salad sounds good! But I would be happy with the broccoli one as well 🙂

  10. Posted April 8, 2010 at 12:26 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Claudia, Michelle, Lindsay and Kelly,

    I really hope you enjoy the recipe – I'll have it up on Saturday.

    I have to tell you all how much I appreciate your comments. It is so nice to know that other people are reading and enjoying the posts.

    Thank you for all of your support.

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