Sprouted nuts are so ubiquitous at our place that Daniel is pretty much tired of them. Since they are our one real convenience food, he’s heard “take some trail mix!” so many times that he’d rather punt a pecan than look at it.
Personally, I never tire of crisp nuts and seeds, and of the relief they give me when my energy runs low.
However, our take on nuts is not as basic or as simple as it sounds. Though I consider them our number one grab-and-go food, the nuts that Daniel and I eat are a far cry from the ones you can get at the store.
The reason being: ours are sprouted.
Sprouting ensures maximum digestion and vitamin and mineral absorbtion.
In other words: more bang for your buck.
All it takes is a few extra steps before you pop those pecans and pepitas into your mouth.
There is both scientific and historical backing for sprouting and dehydrating nuts.
In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon says:
“Native Americans understood instinctively that pecans had to be treated in some way before they were consumed.”¹
She also points her readers towards “the Aztec practice of soaking pumpkin or squash seeds in brine and then letting them dry in the sun…”¹
The indigenous peoples of North and Central America were not the only ones to establish rules for preparing nuts.
Paul Pitchford says in his magnum opus:
“Ayurveda also advises not eating the skin of the almond because it may irritate the gut lining, and avoiding almonds that are blanched in hot water.”²
So what’s the science behind all these nutty rules and regulations?
Nuts have compounds called enzyme inhibitors that keep them from sprouting, before it’s time. Nuts and seeds are meant to be perfect little time capsules, waiting until conditions are just right before they soften and germinate. They also have “anti-nutrients,” like phytate, that bind up minerals, and don’t allow them to be absorbed.
To get rid of these digestive irritants, Dr. Cate Shanahan says:
“Moistening the seeds for a few days activates the plant’s own enzymes-including phytase, which digests phytates-to soften the seed, free up bound nutrients, and even create new ones by converting stored starch and fatty acids into proteins and vitamins.”³
To reap the benefits of ancient wisdom and nutritional science, you just need to have:
- Filtered water
- Raw nuts from a store that re-stocks their nuts often (no old or stale nuts)
- Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt (unrefined sea salt)
- Dehydrator or oven
Combine one pound of pecans, walnuts, almonds, or seeds with about 6 cups of warm, filtered water. Add 1 teaspoon of your sea salt of choice (just make sure it is not stark white), and stir well to dissolve. Cover with a tea towel and leave on your kitchen counter overnight. In the morning, drain off the water and put the nuts onto dehydrator trays, or onto baking sheets, if you are using a conventional oven*. Dehydrate at 115° or lower for 24 hours or more, until the nuts have a crisp crunch when you bite into them. If you are using a conventional oven, bake at your oven’s lowest setting for 12-18 hours, or until crisp. I invested in a cheap dehydrator, as a more energy efficient choice for making sprouted nuts and other foods. You should consider it too!
* I squeeze almonds at this point, after a night of soaking, to remove the skins. The almond skins literally come right off, between your fingers, as you squeeze, like little jackets. Be careful, though, as the almonds can fly right out of your hands! This allows me to make the healthiest almond flour available. It also would be a great option if you are sensitive to almond skins (I have a friend who is), or if you are interested in making other things, like almond paste or marzipan, from properly prepared nuts. Removing the skins is an extra step, but it is worth it if you have certain dietary needs.
¹ Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. 2nd ed. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends, 1999, 2001. Print.
² Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2002. Print.
I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or health professional of any kind. This blog and this blog post is not meant to diagnose, treat, or recommend treatment for medical conditions of any kind. Please ask a doctor or a professional before making lifestyle or diet changes.
Copyright 2015 by Celeste Lightsey