Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a nut - so soak them already, will ya!

Almonds, soaking in spring water.
This post is just about nuts.... nothing too exciting, no sugar or chocolate here, just nuts, plain nuts.

If you are some scientist reading this that knows a lot about plant chemicals, please...skip to the bottom so I don't embarrass myself too much!

Many of us, or those of us fortunate enough not to have a nut allergy, probably pop nuts into granolas, cakes, muffins and cookies or we just eat them salted (or not) right out of our hand. And why not? A salty crunchy tamari almond is quite addicting. You end up eating half the bag before you realize that you have a tummy ache and that you possibly have spoiled your supper. What most of us don't know is that nut eating can be quite hard on our digestive system, it actually causes it some gastric distress. (sad but true) Now don't sit there and think that you never have had a problem eating nuts. You may not have ever even noticed it. It could have come as a mild or strong stomach ache or maybe as a  "silent side effect", ie. the inability to absorb the amazing nutrients that are packed into these dense little foods. It is not like some of us are born with some super ability to digest nuts. We are just all in the same non-nut-digesting boat together!

Dried raw almonds and soaked raw almonds.

Nuts are tiny (some not so tiny like the coconut), nutrient packed foods. They are high in the good fats, protein, fiber, Vitamin E, folic acid, you name it... they've got it. The difficulty in nut consumption is their own canny little ability to resist digestion and assimilation. They are a seed of course, and what are seeds but tiny genetic warehouses that are chock full of fertile goodness just waiting to propagate themselves. But seeds are picky, they don't just want to sprout themselves the minute someone sprinkles them with water or throws them atop of some soil. Seeds and nuts save themselves for the right environment before they decide to sprout. Our stomach is obviously not their preferred place to land!

Nuts contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. The phytic acid is present to stop the seed from sprouting when the environmental conditions aren't just right. This little chemical  is what puts the brakes on premature germination. Phytic acid also hampers our ability to absorb the minerals found in nuts and some even say the protein. It seems to glom on to the good minerals found in nuts and makes an insoluble, hence unabsorbable. The enzyme inhibitors will also prevent protein digestion and nutrient uptake. Since nuts are such a nutrient dense food, wouldn't we want to get the most bang for our buck?

Time to get those nuts soaking. One could just roast nuts or seeds at high temperatures which can reduce levels of phytic acid as well as well as the enzyme inhibitors. However, soaking nuts/seeds for 12 hours in water has become a preferred method as it uses dramatically lower temperatures which keeps the "good things" intact without destroying their health benefiting properties. Placing nuts or seeds in water for such a long period of time, allows you to "trick" the nut per say so that they release some of their phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors as they get ready to sprout.

Look at the difference between the two almonds - the one on the right has been soaked.
Just try soaking your almonds... and slipping the plump little nut between your thumb and pointer finger to squeeze the skin right off. You will be left with sweet, juicy almonds, ready to be crunched upon. 

Almonds, soaked and skinned.

Since nuts are a bit difficult to digest yet offer so many wonderful nutrients, we should eat them in small amounts and if at all possible, soak them first. You can also dehydrate your nuts after a long soaking (these are actually my favorite) as they are so wonderfully delicious. If you are fortunate enough to have a food dehydrator, slip your soaked nuts into the dehydrator until completely dry. Otherwise, if you oven can be set to a low enough temperature, 150 at max, you can low-temp roast your nuts this way. 

I know we live in a grab and go society and it seems like a big pain in the wazoo to soak your nuts before eating....but... if you are one who like to eat raw foods and reap their benefits, well then, by all means, soak your nuts!

Soaked Nuts Recipe Using Almonds
1 cup almonds in a 4 cup ball jar
1/2 tsp of salt (good salt) We use Hawaiian Pink
filtered water

Dissolve salt in 1 cup water, add nuts and fill with filterd water to the top. Let sit out on counter over night. Rinse and drain in the morning. Throw into your smoothies or make homemade almond butter. Dehydrate in oven or dehydrator. If you are planning on dehydrating the nuts, make a big batch using 4 cups nuts and 1 tbs good salt. Soak in a bowl over night.
Soaked Almonds Almond Butter
Follow the same recipe as above, do not dehydrate and immediately grind in blender until very creamy. Sooo delicious.

Blueberry Soaked Almond Smoothie
1/4 cup soaked almonds without skin
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1/2 cup purified water or juice

Blend and enjoy!

Note to Readers!
I am not a scientist. I just have gleaned a bit of nutty information over many years of eating a specialized diet. So if you are some phyto-chemist reading this blog and find that I have made some grave scientific errors in regards to phytic acid and enzymes, please forgive me and let me bake you a cake.... ♥♥♥


  1. fascinating! i was unaware of this. I usually just eat my nuts raw, not roasted, not salted. I might try this.

  2. Wow, this is such an awesome post! I started soaking nuts when I was attempting a raw cleanse some months ago, and I totally noticed a difference in my digestion of them.
    That's it, I'm off to soak some nuts!
    Oh crap, I ran out of them...tomorrow I guess...or do you soak your pecans and walnuts too?

  3. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.
    I find it interesting.

  4. Great post! Okay, you convinced me - I will start soaking.

  5. I guess I should say hello to my "anonymous" son! Hi honey - @Gree... that is exactly how I got into soaking nuts and yes you can soak any nut.. preferably raw but I am sure you know that. I ran out too... my favorite place to order amazing nuts from is from - their products are to die for - xoxo megan

  6. Very interesting post! I've never delved into the chemistry behind the digestion of nut products but it sounds logical. I'm definitely going to try this- the almond butter sounds wonderful. Thanks!

  7. I love making almond milk! I used to buy Almond Breeze until I found out you can easily make it at home. I've used it in a raspberry sorbet. Delish!
    Also love how you used it in a smoothie, wouldn't have thought!

  8. You're totally right. Nuts are so good for you.

  9. wow! this is so cool. I've never heard of such a thing. I'm going to go dig around in the pantry to see if I have any raw almonds laying around. I love any type of "cooking" that resembles a science project. thanks for sharing!

  10. This is such great info! I'm going to try this soaking method.

    Hey, this post made me think of almond milk. Is it difficult to digest as well? What's your opinion on it as a milk replacement?

  11. Nice post, Megan! I didn't know that some people get gastric distress from nuts. I knew of allergies, but not simple distress. I will try this soon-looks neat. And I'll see if we notice a difference in how our tummies feel;)

  12. This is so great! What an awesome post!

  13. This is so cool! I love hearing about the science behind stuff like this. ;) thanks so much for sharing!

  14. this is a great, informative post. that smoothie looks amazing too!

  15. OMG! This smoothie sounds wonderful! I am trying this ASAP!

  16. Cool, your son is blogging too! hehe... What a great infor on soaked almond. Thanks for sharing & have a nice day.
    Cheers, kristy

  17. Fascinating - I know nuts are hard to digest and some people cannot - but soaking them is new to me. And I adore my nuts. And I seem to meet up with you in posts - about nuts!


Want to say hello? Send me some of your food love! ♥♥♥