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Avoid Allergies - The Two-Stage Process for Whole Grains

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The following article The Two Stage Process - Maximizing Nutritional Value was written by Sue Gregg of Sue Gregg Cookbooks and is used by permission.


Just because you/ve switched from white flour to whole grains does not mean that you are getting all the nutritional value. In fact you may also experience new problems with digestion. That is because whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain. Phytic acid combines with key minerals, especially calcium, mangesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract.

Soaking, fermenting or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starch, irritating tannins, and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. For many, this many lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless, from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion.

The first stage of preparation in making whole grain porridges or baked recipes, is to soak the whole grain flour in an acid medium such as buttermilk, yogurt, or other cultured milk, or in water with whey, lemon juice or vinegar added - 1 TB per cup water. As little as 7 hours soaking will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid in grains. Twelve to 24 hours is even better with 24 hours yielding the best results.

Brown rice, buckwheat, and millet are more easily digested because they contain lower amounts of phytates than other grains, so they may be soaked for the shorter times. Other grains, particularly oats (the highest in phytates of the whole grains) is best soaked up to 24 hours.

There are two other advantages of the two-stage process. Several hours of soaking serves to soften the grain resulting in baked goods lighter in texture, closer to the texture of white flour. The longer the soaking, the less necessary is baking powder. Baking soda, alone, will give enough rise. Secondly, this is a great step in convenience, dividing the task into two shorter time periods, cutting the time needed to prepare the recipe right before cooking and baking when you feel rushed to get food on the table.

Blender batter baking recipes should also include the soaking process as a recommended option. Sue Gregg prefers acid medium of buttermilk, but you can substitute an equal amount of water with whey, lemon juice or vinegar - 1 TB per cup--as an alternative.

We encourage you to use the two-stage option, because we suspect that many problems with whole grains would be minimized. Nutritional value and appetite appeal are enhanced. As Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, PhD point out, "..virtually all preindustrialzied peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porriddge, breads, cakes and casseroles." Nourishing Traditions. p. 452. I recommend this book as a supplemental text to Sue Gregg's cookbooks. To order, call 1-800-552-7323 or go to

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