Best preparation of plant seed based foods prior to eating

Plant seeds, nuts, legumes, and unprocessed whole grains are highly nutritious foods to consume as part of a healthy diet. These foods naturally contain phytic acid, the stored form of phosphorus. Phytates (phytic acid) are present in plant seeds; whole grains, seeds, legumes, some nuts— and can decrease the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.

Humans lack the phytase enzyme needed to break phytic acid. As it passes through the gut, phytic acid binds to minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, which means they are not well-absorbed in the intestine, limiting absorption into the body.

Soaking, sprouting, fermenting and pickling all break down phytic acid. When legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are put in water, and an acid such as lemon, apple cider vinegar,  a probiotic yoghurt or whey is added, this activates the enzyme phytase, which reduces phytic acid so phosphorus can be released and absorbed. This increases the digestibility and absorption of the nutrients provided by the food.

This is especially beneficial when feeding babies because properly prepared grains and beans have many valuable nutrients, including increasing iron absorption, a vital mineral when babies start solids and if they are breastfed. More on iron to come (add link)

You may have heard of activated nuts, activation is the same as soaking, and some nuts can be brought activated already, when raw nuts have been soaked in a salt solution for a period of time – it stimulates the early germination and sprouting process within the nut, seed, legume or grain.

A seed that is a great option from 6 months for babies is chia seeds. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and are good for assisting bowel movements.

You do not need to soak chia seeds in order to obtain the benefits of them. Chia seeds are most often consumed in some kind of moisture-containing foods and are the best option for babies, so a probiotic coconut yoghurt or kefir is beneficial as a liquid to use and as a yum combination to enjoy.

Regular consumption of improperly prepared grains can lead to nutrient deficiencies. It’s the amount that creates a build-up, and it varies widely from person to person (or gut to gut).


  • Schlemmer U, Frølich W, Prieto RM, Grases F. Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Sep;53 Suppl 2:S330-75
  • Are Anti-Nutrients Harmful?
  • The Truth About Overnight Oats
  • McCabe L, Mendes C, 2020, Milk to Meals, Stephanie Don St Clement Creative.

Fermented Quinoa Recipe

From Milk to Meals recipe book, slightly adjusted.

Great from 8 months. Quinoa is a pseudo-grain high in protein and gluten-free.

To soak the night before eating:

  • Place 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of filtered water and 1T apple cider vinegar. Use a clean tea towel to cover it left out on the kitchen bench or in a warm spot.
  • Drain the quinoa with fresh water. Add 1 cup of bone broth to a pot and half to one cup of water. I like: best bone broth
  • Cover and bring to a boil.
  • 1t of turmeric can be added for additional anti-inflammatory benefits and flavour.
  • Reduce heat to low, simmer for 15mins
  • Let it rest for 10 mins before serving.