06 Aug What You Need to Know About Activated Nuts
Go crazy for nuts!
Nuts are a fantastic addition to meals or as a snack between meals. The benefits of eating a handful of nuts every day (without the salt, honey, or roasting – sorry!) have been proven. Nutrient-dense, they are rich in protein (ten to 25 per cent) and up to 80 per cent of the fat they contain is unsaturated. They are also a significant source of fibre and minerals.
Unfortunately, many people have digestive issues with nuts, They have quite a few enzyme inhibitors and a little phytic acid, so they can bother your digestion and cause bloating, gas, heart burn, and stomach ulcers over the long term. Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorus found in many plants, especially in the bran or hull of grains and in nuts and seeds. Although herbivores like cows and sheep can digest phytic acid, humans can’t. So for some nut consumers – such as vegetarians who rely on them as a key source of protein and vitamins – activating nuts makes the most of the nutrients.
When you soak seeds, including nuts, in water, two phenomena occur: leaching of protease inhibitors [molecules that inhibit digestion] into the water, and activating of the germination process, so the amount of starch and fiber reduces while the protein and vitamin content increases. This is why germinating seeds and nuts are easier to digest than dry, raw nuts. Roasted nuts are not alive anymore, so they will not activate.
Indigenous cultures have been “activating nuts” for centuries. After soaking they are left in the sun to dry. Soaking them in salty water breaks down the enzymes and the phytic acid, and dehydrating them in a super low heat oven keeps all the nourishment intact! You then have super nourishing snacks that have loads of health benefits. The process of soaking in salted water and then dehydrating, is called activating. So let’s get to it…
While a 24 hour nut project might seem a ridiculously long time before you can get eating, the actual work part is about 5 minutes and the results are worth it. The key is to do a kilo at a time, so you’re not constantly soaking and baking…
How to Activate a Nut (or seed)
Take your 1kg of raw almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts and place them in a bowl covered well with filtered water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, cover and soak for a minimum of 7 hours. It’s good to soak them over night and then stick them in the oven the next morning- great to do it at the weekend and then you have your supply ready for the next week.
CASHEW AND MACADAMIA NOTE: If you’re soaking cashews, macadamias, you only want to soak for about 5 hours or they will break down too much, so do that soak during the day or as soon as you arrive home from work until bed time.
Next morning, strain them off and rinse with more filtered water. Arrange on 2 large baking trays in 1 flat layer and place in an 80 Celcius oven, or 150 Farenheit. If your oven doesn’t go quite that low, leave it at its lowest setting with the door slightly open a crack- I wedge mine open with a fork. Dry them out fully for about 10-12 hours in the oven, then remove.
Now the fun part! You can make your whole batch taste the same – ie. plain, or with a little macadamia nut oil and celtic sea salt, or you could do this: create 5 delicious, simple flavours, by dividing your kilo batch into 5 x 200g lots.
- 1 teaspoon macadamia oil, 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon macadamia or coconut oil, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder or carob, 2 pinches cinnamon, pinch pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp coconut oil or macadamia, 1 tsp of your favourite curry powder blend. I love a hot African Spice blend for these!
- Plain! Reserve for cooking, baking and when you don’t want a fancy snack
The best option is below…. Addiction warning!
SALTED CARAMEL ALMONDS
In a small sauté pan, place:
15g organic butter
1.5 tablespoon rice malt syrup (a glucose sugar source that gets processed in many parts of your body, where fructose based sugar is very hard on the liver as it’s 95% processed there. You could use maple or coconut syrup though as a sometimes option)
2 pinches salt
Bring the 3 ingredients to the bubble, and just as they caramelize into a deep golden brown, pour over the awaiting almonds and quickly toss with a small spoon, before it crystallizes. This is enough to do 150-180g almonds. If you want to make more, just double or triple the quantities.
Enjoy hot or cold!