Cooking Matters: Whole Grains, Beans, and Lentils

Simple tips that can change the quality of your child’s ability to absorb food


Our mothers often buy the very best organic food, store it carefully, wash it thoroughly and take great care to cook it for their children but when they put their child on the scale every month they are discouraged to find that they have gained little or no weight.

Where is all that nutritious food going?

There is more than one answer to this question to be sure but let’s focus here on what we can do about food preparation and we will get to more complex questions of gut flora, yeast and possible bad bacteria in the future.

What about cooking? It turns out that how we cook certain foods is critical to whether those foods have any hope of being absorbed and further that if undercooked foods sit in the gut they will cause all kinds of problems for hurt children in particular.


Here are some basic Dos and Don’ts


  1. Soak whole grains, and lentils for at least 3 hours. Soak beans all day.

  2. Slow cook whole grains, beans and lentils overnight for 8-10 hours. Make sure that you have used enough water to fully hydrate the grains, beans and lentils. Cook on “low” setting. If there is excess water after cooking put on “high” briefly and cook off the water. If the grains are crispy on the edges there is not enough water next time add more.

  3. Rotate whole grains, beans and lentils so that the same grains are not being offered every day over and over again.

  4. Lentils are preferable to beans for most children. They provide a more gradual rise in the blood sugar than beans.

  5. Feed only freshly made food. Food that is not eaten should be discarded. Make enough so that you have plenty for breakfast (60%) and lunch (40%). Add fresh, lightly steamed vegetables right before blending or chopping, or serve vegetables separately to insure that they are not overcooked with the grains and beans. Make dinner of fish, poultry, or meat with fresh, steamed vegetables and chopped or pureed salad (if your child can handle raw food). This makes breakfast the biggest meal, lunch moderate, and dinner light.


  1. Do not use a pressure cooker instead of a slow cooker.

  2. Do not soak grains for more than three hours. The grains will begin to ferment and it will alter the taste.

  3. Do not blend food instead of using the slow cooker thinking that blended food is cooked food. It will not be properly cooked unless you slow cook it first. Often slow cooked foods does not require blending it can be mashed easily.

  4. Do not feed the same foods over and over again.

  5. Do not “batch” food. Mothers sometimes make big batches of food then they blend it and serve it all day long or freeze it to use in the future.

  6. Don’t forget to taste everything you make. If it doesn’t taste good to you it won’t taste good for your child. Correct what needs correcting. Food should always taste good.


Janet Doman, Director of The Institutes


Won’t slow cooking for 10 hours compromise the nutrients in the food?

Yes and no. Yes, if you add fresh vegetables to the grains and beans the nutrients in the vegetables will be lost. Slow cook only the grains, beans and lentils. Minerals will not be compromised. But these complex carbohydrates are valuable to your child for their calories. This is why you are feeding them. Slow cooking will not change the calorie content.

How can I make the grains, beans, and lentils taste good?

You can use onions, garlic and tasty herbs to add flavor as well as poultry or meat. Do not add salt or sugar. Seeds and nuts can also be added as long as your child has no allergies to them. We would recommend that these be rotated as well.


My child has big problems with constipation. Could slow cooking the whole grains make a difference?

A big difference. When food is not cooked enough it cannot be properly absorbed. It is much more likely to sit in the bowel, and this in itself creates problems for the child. Slow cooking sometimes solves this problem completely.

How can I tell that slow cooking is really helping my child?

Weight gain. For the child who is gaining weight very slowly or not at all, slow cooking should help the child to absorb the food better and gain weight.

Do you have questions? Please write to us.

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