The benefit of soaking nuts and seeds

Do you ever eat a couple of handfuls full of cashews or a few tablespoons of a nut butter and wonder why it feels as though you dropped a bowling ball in your stomach? It’s because nuts that have not been soaked contain enzyme inhibitors that can cause uncomfortable digestion.

Now when I first read about this process in Nourishing Traditions I thought it was a bit extreme  and not really needed. Then when I actually tried it and compared it to the raw or roasted nuts or nut butters that I had been eating I was convinced!! It really does make a difference and they taste amazing too!!

After learning in my class that if you are going to eat nuts and seeds, they better be SOAKED, and  reading the opinions of researchers like Sally Fallon and Weston A Price, I finally did it!

Why Should I Soak Nuts?

Unlike grains, nuts contain smaller amounts of phytic acid. Their real issue for us is having high amounts of enzyme inhibitors. These enzymes are useful to seeds and nuts because it prevents them from sprouting prematurely. But they can really strain your digestive system (which is probably why my body was reacting to them raw).

Soaking your nuts in warm water will neutralize these enzyme inhibitors, and also help encourage the production of beneficial enzymes. These enzymes, in turn, increase many vitamins, especially B vitamins. It also makes these nuts much easier to digest and the nutrients more easily absorbed. And, yes, this is a traditional method of preparation. For example the Aztecs would soak pumpkin or squash seeds in salty water and then, sun dry them.

For those of you who soak your grains already, I was curious as to why you used salt instead of a cultured or acidic addition. Sally Fallon answered here.

Why soak nuts, grains and seeds?

  • 1. To remove or reduce phytic acid.
  • 2. To remove or reduce tannins.
  • 3. To neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
  • 4. To encourage the production of beneficial enzymes.
  • 5. To increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins.
  • 6. To break down gluten and make digestion easier.
  • 7. To make the proteins more readily available for absorption.
  • 8. To prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
  • 9. To help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
  • 10. To prevent many health diseases and conditions.


“Q. When soaking nuts, why is the salt needed?

A. The salt helps activate enzymes that de-activate the enzyme inhibitors. For grains, we soak in an acidic solution to get rid of phytic acid. Nuts do not contain much phytic acid but do contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors. The method imitates the way the native people in Central America treated their nuts and seeds–by soaking them in seawater and then dehydrating them.”

(So nuts are prepared slightly differently because they don’t have as much phytic acid, but do have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors.)

Like I said before, if the research didn’t convince me, or if I didn’t care a hoot about what traditional societies did, I would still be convinced by my own experience. I do so much better with soaked nuts, and I like them all the more for their improved taste. I would even prepare them this way solely for the culinary improvement!

The How

While the basic method is the same with all nuts and seeds (soaking in a brine and drying afterwards) there are some slight variations so I will be listing nuts separately. I, once again, owe Sally Fallon the credit for this research. Thank you, Sally Fallon!

The basic method is as follows: Dissolve salt in water, pour over nuts or seeds , using enough water to cover. Leave in a warm place for specified time. Then drain in a colander and spread on a stainless steel pan. Place in a warm oven (no warmer than 150 degrees) for specified time, turning occasionally, until thoroughly dry and crisp. Really make sure they are all the way dry! If not, they could mold and won’t have that crispy wonderful texture. I have found the longer I soak a seed or nut, the longer it takes to dehydrate them.

I use a food dehydrator instead of an oven. It works so well, and keeps my oven free. However, if you don’t have that option, most of us with newer stoves can’t set our ovens at the required 150 degrees Fahrenheit. While I have not personally experimented with this, I have heard of others who leave their ovens cracked to keep the temperature lower or who occasionally open up the oven to also keep the temperature lower. You could put in an oven thermometer to keep track of the temperature. While this would not be the most energy efficient method, it could work. If worse comes to worse, while doing it at 200 degrees (the lowest temperature many stoves will go to) will destroy all those good enzymes and won’t be optimal, I would rather have soaked and slightly toasted nuts then unsoaked nuts.

Pumpkin seeds-Pepitas

4 cups of raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
filtered water

Soaking Time: At least 7 hours, or overnight
Dehydrating time: 12-24 hours, until dry and crisp

Pecans or Walnuts

4 cups of nuts
2 teaspoons sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: 7 or more hours (can do overnight)
Dehydrating time: 12-24 hours, until completely dry and crisp.

Pecans can be stored in an airtight container, but walnuts are more susceptible to become rancid so should always be stores in the refrigerator.

Peanuts (skinless), Pine nuts, or Hazelnuts (skinless)

4 cups of raw nuts
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: at least 7 hours or overnight
Dehydrating time:12-24 hours, until completely dry and crisp

Store in an airtight container

Almonds

4 cups almonds, preferably skinless- SF notes “Skinless almonds will still sprout, indicating that the process of removing their skins has not destroyed the enzymes….[they] are easier to digest and more satisfactory in many recipes. However, you may also use almonds with the skins on. “
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: At least 7 hours, or overnight
Dehydrating Time:12 -24 hours, until completely dry and crisp

Cashews

4 cups of “raw” cashews
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

“Some care must be taken in preparing cashews. They will become slimy and develop a disagreeable taste if allowed to soak too long or dry out too slowly, perhaps because they come to us not truly raw but having already undergone two separate heatings. You may dry them in a 200 to 250 degree oven-the enzymes have already been destroyed during processing. “

Soaking time: 6 hours, no longer
Dehydrate at 200 degrees F: 12-24 hours
Store in an airtight container

Macadamia nuts

4 cups of raw macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: At least 7 hours or overnight
Dehydrating time: 12-24 hours, until dry and crisp

 

ENJOY and let me know how you feel @skinnyfatkids.wordpress.com.

Reference:  Nourishing Traditions, 2nd edition, pg 452-453, 512, 513-517

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About Skinny Fat Kids

I am a fat kid at heart. I don’t start a day without planning a meal; whether it is cooking with friends or trying out a new spot. It might have something to do with being a Mexican/Italian.. Since I was young I loved to help out in the kitchen and was open to all types of food. I appreciate what cooking comes along with… Family, friends and times you will never forget. Food for me is something that you can make taste good even though it is healthy! People have no idea how easy it is to throw together a perfectly well balanced meal that provides them with all the essential nutrients one needs. Each of us have your unique genetic needs, tastes, backgrounds which can be factored into your food and nutrition plan. “Change is one constant in our lives.” You can rid disease and illness through food. Food is something people do not clearly understand. I strongly believe in cooking with local, seasonal, organic, and nutrient-rich ingredients as best as you can. It is essential to eat only grass fed dairy and meat because they provide more essential nutrients as well as high levels of vitamins. Having a garden and knowing where your food comes from is essential! I owe a lot to my mom who many can attest that she is a GREAT entertainer. She seems to always be having a “dinner party” and always throws together something delicious. My objective in this blog is to share my love and knowledge of food and cooking with all you peeps. I want to give you all ideas on how easy it is to eat healthy and make food taste good. I want the standard american diet to be something of the past… TBC
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