Soak It Up: 3 Superfoods You Should Be Eating (and Soaking!)
Many of us might know the incredible benefits of sprouting seeds and nuts, but how familiar are you with soaking them? Sprouting can get a little bit complex and time-consuming, but soaking has the benefits without so much of the process. Make your foods easier to digest (thus receiving an immediate release of nutrients to the system) and get the most out of them by unlocking their “nutrient packs” hidden behind their hard surfaces.
Here are three of the most nutritious, cost-effective, and highly storable foods to improve your health that I recommend sprouting or soaking before eating to not only enhance nutrition but also digestibility. I am also including some simple recipes that I use myself. Each of these is well balanced, delicious, and most importantly, health-enhancing. That being said, feel free to be creative with your combinations and add in other ingredients as you go.
1. Chia Seeds: Your Endurance Energy Food - and More
The benefits of chia seeds are endless. When soaked, the body can get full benefit by digesting them quickly and effectively, thus utilizing all of the nutritional value immediately. Just a few of their benefits are high protein content, high fiber content (38% of their entire nutritional content), lots of good fats and omega 3 fatty acids (21% of their nutritional content comes from these alone), and a good dose of lignans (phytonutrients that attack free radicals). When sprouted, soaked, or sprouted then soaked, chia seeds become most easily digestible. Once gelatinous, they are not only in their healthiest form, but also easy to put into shakes, mixes, and more.
Some studies have also discovered the ability of chia seeds to “positively influence the thyroid gland.”1 The thyroid regulates regulates energy levels, bodyweight, and hormone sensitivity. Chia seeds can have a tremendous, natural, and direct impact on reversing symptoms of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Coach’s Kitchen: The easiest way to get my daily share of chia seeds is to add two tablespoons of soaked chia seeds (soaked overnight) to my protein shakes or to drink them straight (usually immediately post-workout). I also enjoy them mixed in with coconut milk (homemade with coconut milk powder and water) and a scoop of raw whey protein powder for a complete nutritional meal with endless benefits. For a protein-like drink, try two parts whey and one part coconut milk or cream. For a little extra energy, add maca (great for hormones and neurotransmitter balance), honey, or soaked prunes (including their juice).
2. Almonds: The Self-Balanced Body Balancer
Almonds (and most nuts in general) are some of the most difficult foods for the body to digest. With so many diets promoting them these days, nuts and seeds seem to be quite the craze. However, most of what you are feeding your system when you consume nuts and seeds is not benefitting you as much as you might think. Much benefit is lost not only in poor and slow digestion from eating unsoaked nuts, but the quality may have been lacking from the start.
If you’re not paying attention, you could be wasting your money by not spending enough on the right nuts and seeds. Look for chemical-free, raw, and organic products. The benefits come with properly sourced and properly prepared items. So, you got it - look for soaked and/or sprouted. Soaked almonds are easier to digest, and soaking and sprouting unlocks the hidden nutrients inside. The best sources are pricey, but truth be told, nothing compares to raw and unprocessed.
Coach’s Kitchen: Homemade Almond Milk Recipe
- Soak the almonds overnight, or for at least eight to twelve hours with just a touch of Real Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt.
- Remove the skins.
- Place in a VitaMix with just enough water cover them and blend until smooth.
- Drain out any leftover pieces through a cheesecloth.
- Store remaining milk in mason jars for later use and maximum storage.
- If you like flavors, add a drop or two of liquid Stevia (one of the healthiest herbs, it also stabilizes blood sugar, reduces cravings, and is anti-pathogenic).
Coach’s Kitchen: Almond Joy Recipe
- 1 cup of liquid coconut oil
- 1 cup chopped soaked but dried almonds
- 1 cup dried coconut (freeze-dried best)
Melt the coconut oil by running the glass jar under hot water. Organic, extra-virgin, raw coconut oil is best. This oil increases muscle, cuts body fat, and stabilizes blood sugar, and also has anti-cancer and anti-pathogenic qualities.
Stir all ingredients together but save about one-third of the dried coconut to sprinkle on top. Pour mixture into an 8x8 pan and chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. If the result is too tough to cut or cracks, let it sit at room temperature until it cuts easily. Store in the refrigerator. If you want an additional treat, cacao nibs are great and healthy to top it off, are high in antioxidants, and will improve mood and emotions.
3. Goji Berries: The Go-Go-Go Berry
Goji berries are unmatched in their beneficial properties: improving eyesight; healing, repairing, and rejuvenating the skin; and promoting general wellness and longevity. Loaded with polysaccharides and amino acids, which raise immunoglobulin and hGH (which is powerfully age-reversing), and packed with high vitamin C content, this berry delivers the most by getting soaked. We not only get the most out of the berry (since it’s now easy to digest and full of potency), but we also enjoy the juice that it graciously leaves behind.
Coach’s Kitchen: Quite honestly the recipes and blends are endless here. The easiest way to incorporate these powerful little berries into your diet is to soak them overnight, then add both the berries and their juice to a shake or to just about anything you would like. Just don’t heat them when adding them to anything so you maintain their raw state. On a daily basis, I simply soak three or five berries in a little cup of pure distilled water overnight and drink the cup down in the morning. Make sure you give them a little room to expand - then enjoy!
Whether you are improving your health and wellness or aiming to boost your athletic performance, everyone will benefit from soaking and consuming some of these powerful superfoods. Remember, good health and diet is a lifestyle, so put in the time to do some research and experimentation, and then make eating these foods a routine part of your day and performance. Happy soaking!
1. "Chia Seeds for Thyroid Disorders," Hidalgo Foods Library, April 5, 2011.