by Cat, Nov 2007 (Photo from WHFoods)
Nuts and seeds are highly nutritious (although some contain toxins for humans). In order to benefit from their nutrients, you need to soak or sprout them. Note that some nuts cannot be sprouted because removing them from their shell also removes the germ.
Although generally called nuts, cashews and peanuts are actually legumes, and their lectins are harder to break down.
- Includes: 1. Why soak Nuts & Seeds; 2. Notes for Specific Nuts & Seeds; 3. Methods for Soaking or Sprouting Nuts & Seeds; 4. Blanching, Pulverizing Almonds; 5. Toasting Nuts (includes Crispy Pine Nuts)
- See also: 1. Soaking, Sprouting, etc. Menu; 2. Toasting Nuts & Seeds; 3. Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts; Other sites: 1. Reduce lectins in your diet (4); 2. Precision Nutrition: All About Lectins (5). 3. Yogitrition: Soaking grains, beans, nuts and seeds (6)
Why Soak/Sprout Nuts and Seeds?
Soaking any seed, including nuts, begins the processes of germination and fermentation, which have major benefits for the human diet:
- The main purpose of this exercise is to neutralize inhibitors of the phytase enzyme, to free the bound minerals from the phytic acid.
- The complex starches and proteins are also pre-digested, but this effect is not as significant for digestion as it is for the much starchier grains and legumes.
- Side benefits include an increase in vitamin C, folate and other vitamin content.
- And it reduces cooking time.
If you do not eat a lot of nuts and seeds, you could probably skip this time consuming process. However, if you are a vegetarian and get a significant amount of protein from nuts and seeds, then you should definitely consider this process.
Refer to my article Working with Grains, Legumes , Nuts and Seeds on the Diet and Health section of my personal website for more.
Notes for Specific Nuts and Seeds
- Flax seeds: Do not soak flax seeds. They make a mucilaginous mess, and besides, they are not high in phytates, and so don’t really benefit from the soak. However, if you like to make a yogurt smoothie with added flax seeds, you could let it sit for an hour or two, to make the starches and protein in the flax seeds more digestible.
- Cashews: Cashews require special attention, as too-long a soak can cause them to become slimy and develop a disagreeable taste if allowed to soak too long, or dry out too slowly. Soak for only 6 hours, and dry at 200 – 2500 F oven to make them more digestible. Also, cashews are roasted in smoke to release a toxic oil before being sold as “raw.” This type of roasting may not be enough to break down the lectins in the cashew.
- Alfalfa seeds: Alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called canavanine, that is an irritant to the digestive system of humans and animals, designed to keep herds from eating the tender sprouts. It is best to avoid alfalfa sprouts, or at least not to eat them frequently or in quantity.
Methods for Soaking, Sprouting Nuts & Seeds
Amanda Rose (Rebuild from Depression) suggests three different methods, depending on how you plan to use the nuts or seeds. Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions) recommends adding salt to the soaking medium, about 1 Tablespoon unrefined sea salt per 4 cups nuts.
Pre-soaked & roasted whole or chopped/ground nuts or seeds:
- Chop or grind nuts, if desired, before soaking
- Soak: Cover nuts with warm water in a bowl; add unrefined sea salt if desired, about 1 Tbsp per 4 cups nuts. Cover bowl with a cloth and let soak overnight. In the morning, drain in a colander. (See note above concerning cashews):
- Roast: Spread nuts on a baking sheet and roast in your oven at the lowest possible temperature (no more than 150°F), for about 24 hours. You could also use a food dehydrator. The nut will be very crunchy and taste better than any commercial roasted nut.
Sprouted whole nuts or seeds:
This is not suitable for cashews or flax seeds.
See also Sprouting Grains & Seeds for Eating.
- Soak overnight in warm water. Drain, rinse, and then sprout in sprouting environment for 2 days or more, rinsing each day.
- Before the tails get longer than you desire, dry them in oven at lowest possible temperature (or in a food dehydrator) for about 24 hours.
- Or you can continue to let the tails grow and use them as a sprout.
Other options for nuts & seeds
Blanching, Skinning, & Pulverizing Almonds
The following instruction is from Greek Food (About) (7) and Simca’s Cuisine, by Simone Beck.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and remove from heat.
- Add raw shelled almonds (or pour boiled water over almonds in bowl) and let sit for 1 minute (no longer or they will get soggy)
- Drain almonds and run under cold water for several seconds to cool enough to handle.
- Holding the almond between thumb and forefinger, squeeze to slide skin off.
- Drain on paper towels.
After blanching, you can leave them whole, chop them or pulverize. To pulverize:
- Dry the almonds thoroughly in oven at lowest setting, for at least 5 minutes (or use a dehydrator).
- Place about ½ cup of dried almonds at a time into electric blender; Spin at highest speed for about 30 seconds. Dump into bowl or jar, and repeat with next batch.
You can start with raw or soaked nuts, and you can use whole or chopped nuts either way.
- If you soak your nuts first, spread them on baking sheet and roast at lowest oven setting for 24 hours. See Crispy Pine Nuts, below, for method.
- If you use raw nuts, spread them (chopped is best) on baking sheet and toast at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.
Sweet & Spicy Roasted Nuts
This recipe moved to its own post: Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts
- Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig
- Creating Heaven website (creatingheaven.net/eeproducts/eesfc/)
- Rebuild From Depression website (http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/simplechange/simplechange/grains-legumes-nuts-seeds.html)
- Mercola, Reduce lectins in your diet (articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/08/14/reduce-lectins-in-your-diet.aspx)
- Precision Nutrition, All about lectins (precisionnutrition.com/all-about-lectins)
- Yogitrition, Soaking grains, beans, nuts and seeds (yogitrition.com/soaking-grains-beans-nuts-and-seeds-101/)
- GreekFood, About: (greekfood.about.com/od/greekcookingtips/ht/ht_blanchalmond.htm)