Whole grains (especially wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, and quinoa) should be soaked overnight before being cooked, to leach out some of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that are present in most grains. Phytates make it difficult to assimilate minerals and protein from our food and thus interfere with proper digestion. Beans also contain phytates and thus require soaking.
To soak whole grains or beans (legumes), measure out desired amount and place in a bowl after thoroughly rinsing. Cover the grain or beans with filtered water. Optimally, the water should be changed a few times during soaking. Add a tablespoon of either liquid whey (fluid that rises to the top of yogurt containers) or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the soaking water. This increases the breakdown of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Allow the water and grain to sit on the counter for 8-12 hours. Grains should be thoroughly rinsed before cooking. This is particularly true of quinoa which contains a mildly toxic substance on its surface that is intended to repel insects. After soaking, cook the grain as directed. You may find that your grains are more tasty and you are able to digest and assimilate your food more easily.
Alison Finger, ND