millet06In my stock and broth post I advise  about cooking grains, seeds and legumes with stock. In this post I delve into the benefits of sprouting grains, seeds and legumes before cooking them. And this boils down to the anti-nutrients – here’s how to avoid anti-nutrients like lectins and phytic acid – and how to get more nutritional value from beans. Njoy!


Grains, seeds and legumes contain anti-nutrients that act to protect them so that they can stay intact and act as a seed for a new plant. The main anti-nutrient is phytic acid. And here is an excellent article from the Weston Price Foundation about phytic acid.

Those anti-nutrients prevent the bioavailability of protein and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc to your body. In other words, when you soak and sprout the grain, seed or legume you are germinating them and this deactivates those anti-nutrient defences and allow you to better digest as well as absorb the beneficial nutrients. For more details, see this excellent article about the benefits of sprouting from Dr Axe.

soaking and sprouting instructions

  • In the first 8 hours of soaking, grains, seeds and legumes will absorb about 3 times their volume of water. So add 3 cups of water to each cup of beans that you soak
  • Soak for 8 to 12 hours (or overnight)
  • Drain out into sieve, colander or sprouter and rinse with water. Then leave the grains, seeds and legumes in the sieve / colander / sprouter with a thin cloth on top
  • Repeat the rinse with fresh water every 8 to 12 hours
  • After 2 to 3 days, you will see little sprouts begin to show. Now its time to cook!
  • Pop the grains, seeds and legumes in a slow cooker with enough water

cooking notes:

  • For 1 cup presoaked beans, add 4 cups water in slow cooker. For 2 cups beans, add 6 cups water. Keep at least 1/2 inch water above beans at all times, 2 inches during initial stages
  • Cook beans on the HIGH setting of the slow cooker
  • Gas is produced by bacteria in lower Gastro Intestinal tract as they digest oligosaccharides, the fiber in the bean / legume.
    • Adding Sea Kelp (Komku) to beans as they cook helps to break down oligosaccharrides
    • Remove Kelp after 1 hour and before 2 hours of cooking on HIGH (as it will disintegrate adding a different flavor)
  • Add salt at the end of cooking as salt at the beginning of cooking will mean they do not absorb water so well and will be tougher
  • 15 / 16 ounce can of beans is 1.75 cups cooked beans, 0.75 dried beans
  • Keep the cooking liquid! 35% of B vitamins and 50% of folic acid leach into water during cooking
  • Beans eaten with grains form a complete protein
Black bean 3
Black eyed peas 3.5
Cannellini beans 3
Chickpeas (Garbanzo) 3.5 to 4
Fava bean 2.5
Flagelot 3.5 to 4
Great Northern 2.5
Kidney 3
Lentils – brown 1.5 to 2
Lentils – green 2
Lentils – red 1.5
Lima 2 to 2.5
Navy 2.5 to 3
Pink (pinquito) 3.5
Pinto 3
Red – small 2.5
Soy 4
Split peas – green 2.5
Split peas – yellow 3
White beans – small 3

adapted from:

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

Hensperger, B., Kaufman, J. (2005). Not you mother’s slow cooker cookbook. Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press

additional resources:

“Living with phytic acid” by the Weston Price Foundation

A brilliant and comprehensive post about soaking with a wealth of links to studies as well as instructions, from Dr Axe

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