In another blog written about a month ago, I went into some personal detail about why and how my husband and I were introduced into the world of raw foods. It's been a journey and I continue every day to learn new details, connect the missing links in some information, balance and try to make decisions about conflicting information, and through it all find a healthier way for us to eat and live. I am convinced - finally really convinced - after wavering back and forth for about a year, that raw foods deliver "generally" the most in the way of nutrition and health. There are some exceptions to this and we will discuss those in future blogs. Some foods are better cooked for one reason and may be better raw for another - spinach as an example and a good choice for further discussion in the future. Warren and I faltered over the raw food as winter set in and the plentiful greens, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and squash in our garden died off, and we wanted warm soups. We, of course, both gained weight over the winter and lost muscle mass - and we don't feel very good right now. I've discovered happily that my soups can still have beans in them and warmed to the a certain temperature and still be "raw". I think next winter will be different for us.

Recently, I picked up yet another book about raw foods. This one was very simplistic and a much easier, quicker read than the one prior to that - probably at the complete opposite poles in readability and detail. The one book (1), in my opinion, required some medical background to even begin to understand some of the things discussed, the other, the one just finished (2), was very basic. Truthfully, I think I learned more useful information from the easy-read one. For instance - out of all these books and DVD's, none of them really gave explicit instructions on how to sprout and eat beans! They all said it was a good idea, you could/should do it for so many hours, etc., but none of them gave me the basic, beginner's look at actually doing it. Maybe I'm just not as smart as I think I am and it's easy to everyone else - something to think about! That's one reason I think teaching classes on all of this and giving live demonstrations would be helpful and fun to do - after, of course, I become a little more proficient.  

So - I'm going to give you the basic directions for sprouting beans and I'll tell you why it's a good idea. And as an added bonus, I'm going to share a recipe for hummus from a friend. In the "simplistic" book, she even gives a germination and sprouting chart of times for each bean, seed or grain - very helpful!  And - no one really explained germination versus sprouting - something a raw fooder needs to know. It's all probably in the textbook for my nutrition class that I keep putting aside to read books such as this.

variety of dried beans 


1.  Rinse: Rinse the stuff - several times and drain. Best to use purified water and if that's not available, distilled water. The instructions apply to any, preferably organic, beans, seeds or nuts. The ones I want to start with are almonds, cashews (because there are some really good recipes with cashews), garbanzo's (chickpeas - recipe for hummus coming up), lentils, quinoa, walnuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. I can buy alfalfa/broccoli sprouts at the local health food store easily and cheaply enough, so I'll wait for my sprouting container for those.

2.  Soak: The required time for your choice of bean, seed or nut can be found in the book referenced below (2), and probably on the internet. Email me or leave a comment if you have a question about a particular one and I'll post it. I can't legally copy their chart, but I'll check around and see if I can find an internet link and post it here - or if one of you have that resource, please share it with the rest of us. You want to soak them at room temperature for the recommended period of time; i.e., the garbanzo's that I'm soaking tonight will be soaked for 12 hours. I'm going to put them in a glass bowl and cover it with a few layers of cheesecloth. You can use a canning jar and the health food stores sell mesh screens to put over jars for this purpose - I've never really liked them though. I prefer the cheesecloth.

3.  After 12 hours, I'm going to rinse and drain (several times) my now "germinated" beans - again with purified water recommended. Truly, I doubt I'll use my purified water for that since they aren't going to be soaking in it, but if you have a purifier directly at your tap, that would be best. I don't, we use a Brita pitcher, so I'll use my tap water. They are now ready to eat or use in a recipe, such as the hummus one I'm linking to from a friend's blog. Now if you want to go a step further, you can "sprout" them.


If you're luckier than I am, you'll find and buy a sprouting container - I'm determined to get one soon. I used to have one, but it disappeared somewhere along the line. For now, I'll put them in a Ball canning jar and again cover the jar with several layers of cheesecloth. Some books recommend clean stockings, but there's something about that that bothers me - I'm sure it's fine. Now set this jar in a dark place and allow time for them to sprout, usually takes 2 to 5 days depending on what you're sprouting. Rinse and drain a couple of times a day and lay the jar at a 45 degree angle to facilitate drainage - otherwise you'll get mold - not a good thing. Again, this is why I like the sprouting containers better. You can wait for the full sprout to appear or you can eat them when there's just a tiny sprout tail on them. Either way the enzyme inhibitors are gone. Be sure to store sprouted nuts, seeds or beans in the refrigerator and don't keep for more than 5 days. Actually, I prefer eating them as soon as possible, otherwise you're losing a lot of nutrients to oxidation.

Why Raw is Better:

I believe protein from plants is an important source as it eliminates the saturated fat that accompanies animal protein. We won't even go into the environmental impact of large scale meat production at this time . There are many reasons raw is better both environmentally and nutritionally, but I'm just going to talk about why raw (germinated and/or sprouted) beans are better. Beans are an excellent source of protein (broken down as amino acids in our body.) Research backs this up. Research shows that sprouting does in fact make a plant protein, such as a bean, more digestible. Sprouting, soaking or fermenting foods destroys enzyme inhibitors (2)(3). Enzyme inhibitors are what is in that shell that covers the seed or bean and was put there by nature to protect plants from being digested by the enzymes of outside organisms. But - they also can inhibit or inactivate the enzymes that we need to digest protein. Cooking can destroy the enzyme inhibitors also, but at the same time it kills digestive enzymes. Our body has to re-create these digestive enzymes (trypsin specifically for protein) which requires energy resources that could and should be used in other places, such as our immune system which is always in full attack mode - or should be. Sprouting provides these enzymes naturally without having to use body reserves. This is one of the main themes you will hear about eating "raw" and although the research is still being done, I can personally attest to how much better Warren and I felt, looked and acted when eating more of a raw food diet. This also is a theme you will hear often within the raw food community, as well as looking and feeling younger.

Let me also add, surprisingly for me, that raw food does not mean that you are a vegetarian or vegan - some proponents suggest eating "seared" meat, as suggested in the book mentioned (2). Again, you must consider the quality of your meat - carefully. I'm still pondering this one. When I was eating steaks, I did prefer medium rare, but Warren liked his well-done. Anthropological data suggests that meat may be completely necessary for some regional populations, the genetics of which have been passed down from generation to generation. It's a journey. Warren and I have found that the more we eat vegetarian and especially raw, the less we want to eat meat. I'm still wandering and wondering.

And now - for the hummus recipe! I've made hummus, my daughter's is better than mine and I'm not sure why. She doesn't use Tahini, so hers is lower in fat. I looked at Kayla's recipe below and thought it looked like a really good balance of the main ingredients. With her permission, I've copied it below.  I usually either get it too lemony or too garlicky. I love it just with celery and it satisfies any carb cravings I may have. Our granddaughters eat it like candy and I think much prefer it to candy. I'm going to try this recipe tomorrow after my beans have soaked (germinated). That would be my only suggestion for any change in this recipe - try it with germinated garbanzo's and let me know how it turned out for you. You may have to add water - let me know if you did. Canned garbanzo beans are dead food according to raw fooders - no live digestive enzymes. I'm convinced that raw food in other areas of my diet is definitely the best way to eat, so I'm going to try raw beans.  Oh - and important, very important, to the discussion, if anything is heated above 115 degrees, the enzymes are gone. You will see slight differences in this temperature guideline including up to 117 degrees. I have an instant read temperature gauge that I use when making our body creams, so determining the temperature isn't a problem for me. If you do want to warm your foods and have the enzymes alive - I suggest you buy one. You'll be surprised at how warm 115 degrees is.

Raw hummus with vegetables

Kayla's Hummus:

1-2 garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans (15 oz)
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 lemons

Directions: In a food processor chop garlic cloves, add garbanzo beans (after draining liquid), add tahini, warm water, olive oil and then squeeze in the juice from 2-3 lemons.  Process until very smooth.

This recipe is very simple and can be made in a matter of minutes.  Serve with high quality flat bread or vegetables.  To dish up the hummus traditionally, scoop a generous portion into a serving bowl, pour extra virgin olive oil over the top, sprinkle with paprika and garnish with parsley.

Thanks Kayla - click on over to her blogs for a lot of very good information on a lot of different subjects, but especially the cosmetics and beauty industry. Please, please, let me know if you try this recipe either with raw beans or otherwise and how it turned out.

Thanks for listening!

Ann's signature 


1.  Davis Brenda, RD, Melina Vesanto, MS, RD. Becoming Raw, The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 2010.

2.  Alt, Carol. Eating in the Raw. New York, New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2004.