|Photo by Isaac Wedin|
Since beans contain lots of natural folate, and nuts & seeds have many fertility-enhancing minerals, I frequently recommend that my clients add these healthy foods to their diets. Traditional cultures soaked beans, nuts & seeds in order to improve the digestion & assimilation of their reproduction-supporting nutrients. Here's how.
I recommend buying dried beans. This is because most commercial cans contain a BPA lining. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a man-made compound that exhibits estrogen-like properties upon assimilation into the human body (it is one of many chemicals therefore known as a xeno-estrogen). While the FDA hasn't banned BPA yet, many studies have shown its potential dangers - including a strong link to infertility.
To cook dried beans, first you'll need to soak them. Cover them with lots of filtered water (they will expand quite a bit) and place them in the refrigerator to prevent fermentation. Let them soak overnight or for 12 hours. For extra credit & nutritional punch, you can even sprout legumes (Google "how to sprout beans" and you'll find scores of super-easy DIY tutorials). Regardless of whether you simply soak or attempt to sprout, you'll need to rinse & drain the beans before cooking them. Place the beans in a large pot and cover them with several inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Don't add salt until after the beans are cooked - this will help them retain their shape & texture. Cook the beans for 60-90 minutes or until they become tender (but not mushy). Once they're cooked, drain them again.
At this point, you can either use the beans in a recipe or store them. If you're going to use them within a few days, you can simply store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and they'll last for 3-4 days. Or, for longer storage, pat them dry and freeze them in an airtight container. Frozen beans will keep for 6 months to a year.
If soaking, cooking & storing beans seems like too much work for you, you'll be glad to know that some health-minded companies are eliminating BPA in their cans. These cans are labeled "BPA-free" or "No BPA." Eden Organics is one reliable producer who uses BPA-free cans for their beans. But even if you have to settle for BPA-lined cans, try not to beat yourself up too much. Many nutritional experts agree that the health benefits of eating more vegetables and fruits outweigh the risks of exposure to pesticides and other toxins.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts & seeds only need to be soaked for 7-8 hours, following which they should be dehydrated in a warm oven (150˚) for about 12 hours, turning occasionally. They can then be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity.