We want to try to make each bite count when it comes to flavor, satiety and postnatal repletion. Whether you are reading this pregnant or postpartum, the demands on body for nutrients is unlike literally any other time in your life and even more so if you choose to breastfeed.
We can easily add some depth to our food when we prepare and combine foods. While I encourage you to not overly obsess about these steps, they are there for you and your family to use is desired. Perhaps knowing a bit more about it will make it seem more doable. Ways we can increase nutrients are
Food Synergy / Affinity
Toasting grains, oats, spices is an added step but the flavor enhancement and helps with digestibility
To do this, use your seasoned cast iron skillet and heat to a low to medium, place in pan for 3 - 5 minutes, watching and moving to ensure that nothing gets blackened or sticks. You'll be able to smell a nice nutty flavor.
You can soak whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. This technique transforms dormant properties and indigestible components to something full of minerals, accessible nutrients and enzymes.
Soaking Beans + Grains: While many do this and tout increased mineral absorption, chances are if you are eating a well rounded, anti inflammatory diet you are already getting plenty of minerals. That being said soaking grains is actually culturing them and by doing so you are increasing flavor, shortening the time to cook, releasing more nutrients and making them easier to digest. Additionally there is something called anti-nutrients. Generally speaking, the benefits of eating these foods unsoaked far outweigh the anti nutrients that are consumed BUT it's not a bad idea to understand this a bit deeper.
Anti- nutrients you might have heard of are Lectins, Oxalates, Phytates, Saponins, Glucosinolates, and Tannins.
This is a time honored tradition that we've gotten away from the last few generations. Even a short soak will benefit if you don't have time to get things going. In general, it's smart to just think an overnight soak! This chart helps but I want to stress again, any amount of soaking will be of benefit.
This can be a nightly Ritual of Care if a loved one is able to fold it in to their evenings. Again, think overnight soak in a pot on the stove, grains covered in warm water, plus one teaspoon of acid per cup of grain, covered sitting out at room temp. The acid can be lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, whey, buttermilk, yogurt. If you skip over the acid and just do the soak, that works well too! When done soaking, give it a very good rinse and cook. Remembering that cook times will be shorter for soaked grains. Times are so variable as it depends on the length of soak, heat of pot, age of grain, amount of liquid etc.
Soaking Nuts + Seeds
I know this one is kind of odd for folks as many of us are used to our roasted, toasted, salty nuts. Soaking nuts and seeds happens for the same reasons as grains but in this case we use salt to breakdown the anti-nutrients. Raw nuts are jam packed but we can't absorb lots of it until we deactivate the anti nutrients (in this case phytic acid). What's cool as that many traditional cultures historically did this with seawater and sun.
Just like with the grains, this is about enhancing nutrients. IF YOU MISS THIS STEP, DO NOT WORRY! We aren't eating copious amounts of nuts initially anyway.
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