Monday, March 7, 2011

Nuts over Nuts

Nuts make a great snack! First of all they are tasty, but they also are a good source of protein and nutrients and their fat content (healthy oils) keeps you feeling full. However, there a few things you should know about nuts before grabbing a jar of planter peanuts.

Most commercially available nuts come to us already roasted. This means that the good healthy oils are negatively affected, the B vitamin and mineral content is decreased (Elson M, Haas. Staying Healthy with Nutrition, p. 334), and the enzymes are destroyed. To add to this, they are roasted in more oil (often not very good oil) and a lot of salt is added. Intead of roasted, raw is a better choice—but even raw nuts require some preparation.

Nuts can be difficult for our body to digest because of the enzyme inhibitors that are present. Enzymes are a very important and often overlooked part of our food. Enzymes are used in our body to be a catalyst for chemical reactions, so that means without enzymes many reactions cannot occur. In terms of our digestion, we need the enzymes present in the food to be able to use the energy and nutrients available in our food. Fortunately, the enzyme inhibitors in the nuts can be neutralized by a simple soaking which provides the following benefits:
• Increased digestibility
• Increased nutrient availability and absorption
• Better taste, especially almonds and walnuts

To soak you nuts, use a glass jar or bowl and soak in warm filtered water, with some sea salt added. The nuts will expand when they absorb the water, so make sure there is extra room in your container. There are different recommendations for the length of soaking for each nut, but in general the harder the nut, the more soaking is required.

In the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, the author suggests soaking 4 cups of nuts with 1 Tbsp sea salt (only 2 tsp salt for walnuts and pecans) for 7 hours or overnight and then dehydrating the nuts in a warm oven (150 F) for 12-24 hours (depending on the nut) until they are dried out. Although, you can eat them still wet, drying them out will give a texture close to that of a roasted nut, but without killing the enzymes, nutrients and oils.

Keep posted for some recipes with these delicious nuts in the next few days!


W. James Kelly said...

Mmmmhhhh nuts!!
Great post. Even as your husband I learn something new every time I read your posts!