NUTS and SEEDS provide tremendous nutritional support as fat and protein, which is why they are great to snack on, add to salads, yogurt, etc. But if you are eating them and expecting to truly benefit from their nutritional value and keep from causing indigestion, you need to SOAK them first. WHY? Because all nuts, seeds, and grains contain an anti-nutrient called Phytic acid (from phosphorous) which in humans is very difficult to break down due to the fact that we lack the enzymes to do so. (birds, for example, produce that enzyme so they have no trouble eating and digesting seeds). This binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract which can lead to mineral deficiencies. Nuts also have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors.
When seeds and nuts are SOAKED, their enzymes are neutralized and the phytic acid is broken down which allows for proper digestion.
This step is especially important for young children who are still developing the enzymes to break down these plant foods (ever seen undigested nuts, grains or seeds in a toddler’s stool? This is partially due to their inability to digest certain proteins and nutrients in these foods).
So how do you SOAK nuts? You need TWO things: warm water and salt. The warm water will neutralize many of the enzyme inhibitors and increase the bioavailability of many nutrients, especially b-vitamins. The salt helps activate enzymes that deactivate the enzyme inhibitors present in nuts.
The best place to find information on soaking nuts and how to prepare and find other traditional foods is Sally Fallon’s book~ Nourishing Traditions: The book that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. If you do not have a copy of her cookbook it is a great resource of information and is an essential cookbook for traditional cooking.
Macadamia, Brazil and Pine nuts DO NOT NEED TO BE SOAKED.
What You Need:
- 2 cups of raw, organic nuts or seeds (it is better to soak one kind at a time)
- 3-4 cups of warm filtered water (to cover nuts)
- 1 tablespoon of salt
What to Do:
- Place the warm water in a medium bowl or jar (half a gallon or larger). Add the salt and let dissolve.
- Add the nuts or seeds, making sure they are completely submerged in the water.
- Leave uncovered on the counter or another warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours, preferably overnight.
- Rinse in a colander and spread on a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature (150 F is optimal) or dehydrate until completely dry. This step is important, as any remaining moisture in the nuts or seeds can cause them to mold. Dehydrating time can often be up to 24 hours, so a dehydrator simplifies the process but isn’t necessary.
- NOTE: If you plan to use nuts or seeds to make homemade almond milk or any other variety, this is the optimal time, as they are already softened. This is an important step in the homemade nut milk process as the enzyme inhibitors are mostly removed and the nuts are already softened to make a more creamy milk.
- An extra note – I like to add a bit of coconut oil and salt and seasonings to the nuts as they are drying in the oven – SO DELICIOUS!
You may think all this is not worth it – but let’s face it – RAW NUTS ARE BORING, and if you like the taste of salted and crunchy nuts, you will be a fan of doing this. Just prepare ahead and store in containers for two weeks (you won’t be able to resist so doubt if they’ll make it that long). ENJOY! Let me know how you do!