Prepare Every Needful Thing

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"

Home Production and Gardening–April 2014

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Making Beans and Grains More Digestible

dry beansOne of the pitfalls of food storage is that we often do not store what we eat or eat what we store. As opposed to our ancestors who ate out of their fields and gardens year-round—fresh in the summer and then stored or preserved in the winter—many of us would face a rather dramatic change in diet should we suddenly need to eat primarily out of our storage. This, of course, can lead to digestive woes. Aside from adjusting the composition of our diets beginning now (it is a good idea to try to prepare at least one meal per week out of food storage ingredients) there are methods and techniques we can use that will help those beans and whole grains to digest more easily and improve their overall nutritional profile.

Beans:

  • Soak 3 hours in warm, but not hot water (140F is ideal) or 18 hours at room temperature. Rinse before cooking.
  • Sprout until roots start to swell-about five days for most beans. Rinse before cooking.
  • Cook slowly and over low heat. A long, thorough cooking will reduce phytates considerably more than high heat or pressure cooking. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface and cook until thoroughly softened.
  • Choose more easily-digestible varieties such as lentils, mung beans or pink beans.
  • Some plants or herbs can help with digestion. Cook beans with a strip of kombu (a type of seaweed), a couple tablespoons of epazote (fresh is better than dried) or season with ginger, turmeric, fennel or asafetida.
  • For more information, read here.

 Grains:

  • Soak 12 -24 hours with 1-2 Tablespoons of whey, lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir; rinse and cook in fresh water.
  • Sprouting is a little more involved. There are some great directions here.
  • Make sourdough. You can purchase a variety (including gluten-free) of sourdough cultures here.
  • Choose more easily-digestible varieties such as rice, millet or buckwheat.
  • For more information, read here.

General digestive helps:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods. Eating the same foods every day can cause enzyme depletion and digestive problems.
  • Start your meal with something acidic or bitter to stimulate your digestion.
  • Chew well so that your food breaks down more quickly in your stomach.
  • Include probiotics and gelatin in your diet. These substances heal and improve the functioning of your digestive tract. Food sources of probiotics include yogurt; kefir; fermented and unpasteurized pickles, sauerkraut and vinegar; miso and kimchi. Gelatin is found in slow-cooked homemade animal-based broths or it can be purchased in powdered form and added to liquidy foods as desired.
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