As a vegetarian, my family pretty much lives off of beans, lentils and vegetables. So when I found out that legumes can actually cause tooth decay, I panicked. But with a little more research and some advanced planning, I discovered the key to beans and lentils that are easy to digest, more nutritious and safe for your teeth.
INSTRUCTIONS TO SPROUT & SOAK:
- Pour dried beans/lentils into a pot, cover with filtered water and let sit overnight.
- Pour dried beans/lentils into a colander, rinse with filtered water, place mixing bowl beneath colander, place plate over colander and leave on countertop.
- Pour filtered water over beans/lentils 3-4 times a day (add a few dashes of apple cider vinegar). Mixing bowl will catch excess.
- Repeat until beans/lentils sprout (usually 1.5 days for lentils and 2 days for white beans)
On our second date, my husband and I went out to dinner for the first time and as he opened up the menu he looked into my eyes and said, “There’s something I need to tell you.” And my first thought was, “Oh my god, this guy could be the one and he’s about to tell me he’s dying.” But then my rational brain kicked in and instead I said to him, “You’re a vegetarian aren’t you?” He looked back at me stunned and said “How did you know?”
People love to ask my husband and I if we were vegetarians when we met — I think it’s usually assumed he lived off hamburgers and steak until I got my claws into him and forced him to give up meat. But our plant-based lives existed well before we met — we even had a vegetarian wedding.
That’s all to say, we basically live off of beans and lentils. So when I found out that beans and lentils can actually cause tooth decay and are full of antinutrients, it was enough to make me want to abandon a decade of vegetarianism.
Thankfully I didn’t and that’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode…
If you’re vegetarian, vegan or plant-based your diet may also be heavily reliant on beans and lentils. But do you know that beans and lentils are actually seeds? Insert the mind blown emoji here.
I had never thought about that before but once I learned about beans and lentils being seeds I also learned that all of the DNA and beneficial nutrients of these seeds are stored inside which is why they are difficult for our systems to digest and is one of the reasons why beans are often associated with gas.
Further blowing my mind, I learned that there are anti nutrients in the beans and lentils that exist on the outside “shell” so to speak, phytic acid being one of them which can contribute to tooth decay, cavities etc.
Upon first finding out about this, I was pissed. How dare you tell me that a staple ingredient in my diet is bad for my teeth. I was also mad that I had been eating something that wasn’t as nutritious as I thought it to be.
But as you probably suspected, there is a solution.
And it’s sprouting.
In order to remove all of those anti-nutrients and release the really great nutrients from the inside of the bean or lentil, you need to sprout them before cooking.
The solution is simple in theory and gets simpler in practice once you get into a habit. But if you’re one of those people who’s thinking, I still used canned beans and I do not have time to be sprouting dry beans.
I’m going to offer two suggestions – the first one is the cheaper but more time consuming option: To sprout them yourself.
Here’s how it works: Buy a bag of dry beans at the grocery store, bring them home, dump them into a pot and fill the pot with filtered water. Leave the beans or lentils soaking in the pot overnight.
The next morning, pour them into a colander, rinse with filtered water and set the colander over a mixing bowl. Place it on your counter and cover with a plate to keep away dust. Then, few times a day pour a rinse of filtered water over the beans (the mixing bowl will catch the excess) — you can also add a few dashes of apple cider vinegar if you have it.
As you continue rinsing the beans throughout the day, you’re going to notice the sprouts starting to emerge. For lentils, it usually happens by the night. For pinto or navy beans it takes a bit longer. Black beans are really hard to sprout but you can go through the same soaking process with them.
Once the sprouts emerge, then the beans or lentils are ready to cook. You can see how this takes some advance planning and time. But with so many of us working from home now, it’s much easier to give the beans a rinse whenever you go into the kitchen. You can also sprout in big batches and then freeze the leftovers after you cook them.
As I said, once you get into a habit it’s really easy in practice. I do it once a week for whatever I’m batching cooking whether it’s soup or chili or curry.
If this sounds like too much work and you’re willing to pay extra, you can buy already sprouted lentils and beans at some grocery stores. Dried beans and lentils are very cheap, though, so if you can get in the habit of soaking and rinsing it’s definitely worth it.
This is one of those things that doesn’t seem like a big deal but as we’re all starting to learn more and more that food is medicine, wouldn’t you rather get the most out of what you’re eating? For exact directions on how to soak and sprout beans and lentils, you can go to cleanlivingpodcast.com/beans
Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you learned something from this episode, please share with your favorite vegetarian friend! Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.