By Megan Ciampa, Contributing Writer
If you are friends with anyone who is into preparing foods traditionally then you may have heard them say things like, “I’m making a big pot of chili after I finishing soaking my beans,” or “I just bought 5 whole chickens and I can’t wait to make chicken stock with the bones!” or “I love having soaked oatmeal for breakfast” and you wonder, “What in the world are they talking about?” Sure, it sounds delicious and you bet there is nutritional value to these practices, but goodness, don’t they take a lot of time? Guess what? They take about .02 seconds to set up, but they yield innumerous ridiculous health benefits.
Here are three real food changes that are really simple.
…(or nuts, legumes and other seeds) is a traditional health food tip passed on from our ancestors that allows us to absorb the nutrients in the food more easily by neutralizing enzyme inhibitors and removing phytates (phytic acid) according to Bee Wilder of HealingNaturallyByBee.com (see her guide on properly preparing grains, nuts, seeds & legumes).
Bee also says, “These foods also contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with the absorption of proteins, which causes gastric distress and chronic deficiencies in amino acids. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize phytic acid, but it also removes enzyme inhibitors and breaks down complex starch” (emphasis mine). If you want to avoid the gastric distress that often comes with eating beans “the magical fruit,” try soaking beans!
How to Soak:
Dried Beans (such as black, pinto, kidney, white, etc.)
- Use warm filtered water to cover.
- For medium-sized and large beans, you’ll need 1 tablespoon of acidic medium (like apple cider vinegar — or you can use baking soda) for each cup of dry, raw beans. Small beans (like black) need 2 tablespoons of acidic medium for each cup.
- The minimum time for soaking is 7 hours, or overnight. Soak longer for larger beans, anywhere from 12-24 hours.
- Drain the beans in a colander and rinse off the soaking water (to reduce phytates). Add fresh water to cook the beans.
- Place the beans in a stock pot, add fresh water, and cook about 1- 2 hours until the beans have softened. Skim off any foam that rises during cooking.
- Store extra beans in plastic bags or food storage containers and freeze the extras. These will make really fast meals in the future for chili, mexican meals, or beans & rice!
- If you’re converting recipes that called for canned beans, the rule of thumb is:
1 15-ounce can of beans equals:
- 1/2 cup dry beans, before cooking
- 1 1/2 cups beans, after cooking (according to Dried to Canned Beans conversion)
Bone Broth (chicken stock, turkey stock, beef stock)
Homemade Turkey Stock
There are loads of tutorials online about how to make chicken stock, including Kate’s, here at Modern Alternative Mama. You can make your own broth from chicken, turkey or beef bones, and even fish bones!
After you roast your meat, you simply take your bones, dump them in a stock pot (or crockpot, see Nourished Kitchen’s easy tutorial for a slow-cooker), add 1-2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar, vegetable scraps (chopped onion, celery, carrots), and cover the bones with filtered water, and let simmer for 12-24 hours. When you see floaty bubbles or foam rise to the top in the first 30 minutes, simply skim the foam off (those are impurities coming out of the bones). Your house will smell wonderful and you will have loads of healthy, nourishing, chicken stock to use for several different meals!
Why make your own? Broth is naturally full of minerals your body can easily assimilate. It contains gelatin, which strengthens your bones and helps heal your digestive lining. Its soothing properties are powerful, which is why it’s often recommended for colds and flus.
As a grain, oats can still be hard to digest if not soaked or sprouted. Either of these methods help unlock the nutrients in the oat by reducing phytic acid (an anti-nutrient) and allowing your body to assimilate the actual nutrients in the grain. You can see my quick tutorial for soaking oatmeal at Chiquita Bambino.
In all these cases, in order to soak beans, oatmeal, or make your own bone broth, all you need are probably supplies you already have on hand (apple cider vinegar might be new if you’re newer to traditional food preparation). The active hands-on time to start these processes is very little, maybe 10 minutes at most.
In my experience, the main thing that is new is starting the process hours or a day before you’d like to use it for a meal. As long as you are prepared, these changes are a cinch!