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Cooking Matters: Whole Grains, Beans, and Lentils

Childrens Nutritional Needs Are Important

Simple tips that can change the quality of your child’s ability to absorb food - childrens nutritional needs matter!


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.

Childrens Nutritional Needs & Food Preparation

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: First wash in cold water, then soak whole grains, beans, and lentils for at least 4 hours and discard the water.

  2. Slow cook whole grains, beans, and lentils overnight for at least 12 hours. Grains or beans should be easy to mash with a fork after cooking. Be generous with water and experiment to get the texture that will be best for your child’s ability to chew and swallow.

  3. Rotate whole grains, beans, and lentils so that the same grains are not being offered every day over and over again. Whole grains (or similar to grains) to consider using include: brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, and quinoa. We recommend avoiding wheat because so many children are reactive to it.

  4. 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 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. The blender should never be used as a substitute for fully cooking food.

  3. Do not feed the same foods over and over again. Children train their mothers to feed them the same foods over and over again. If mother falls into this trap, the child’s diet gets narrower and narrower. Every week add new tastes and textures. The broadest array of food gives the greatest number of nutrients.

  4. Do not “batch” 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. The moment food is blended it is exposed to elements that break down the food and nutrients are lost. If this blended food is kept for later use it is simply not as nutritious. The taste of the food will also deteriorate rapidly. Your child’s food should always be tasty and inviting.


Janet Doman, Director of The Institutes


Won’t slow cooking for 12 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, fish, 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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