How to prepare nuts, seeds & legumes

February 22, 2021

The optimal way of preparing nuts, seeds and legumes.

Nuts are a really great snack! They are convenient, high in protein, low in carbs and keep you fuller for longer. Legumes should be a staple, especially in vegan and vegetarian diets – they are nutrient-dense and versatile.

Some people find that nuts and legumes (beans) are hard on the digestive system. This is because of phytic acid and perhaps improper preparation. This post will tell you how to make nuts and legumes easier to digest and how to get the best ‘nutritional value’ from them (and in turn, value for money ;))

At first, the process might be a bit daunting and it may not seem worth it. That is how we felt when we first heard of the process of soaking, sprouting and dehydrating. But your digestive system will thank you!

Choosing your nuts and seeds (RAW):

This part can be a bit tricky when they are still in the packaging at the shops.

There are 3 things to look out for: colour, texture and taste.

Colour: your nuts should be a creamy white colour. They should be more of a light beige colour as opposed to a yellowing colour.

Texture: Raw nuts should be crisp, and not going soft or soggy.

Taste: fresh nuts have a subtly sweeter taste. Nuts that are old have a slightly bitter and rancid taste. They may also smell rancid, a little like paint.

Ideally, you should buy nuts and seeds raw. Often times roasted nuts have preservative and are flavoured with chemicals (even the salted ones – table salt is highly processed – sea salt or Himalayan salt should be used instead – and they have health benefits). Another option is to buy pre-soaked and sprouted dehydrated nuts (not freely available yet, and quite pricey!).

How to prepare nuts to get the best out of your nuts

Many people experience symptoms of bloating, flatulence, heaviness and perhaps even nausea when they eat nuts, seeds and legumes. The reason for this could be incorrect preparation.

In their raw state, nuts, seeds and legumes are dormant and contain high amounts of phytic acid / enzyme inhibitors. This enables them to have a high shelf live. When you want to eat them, you should activate the germination phase to make them easier to digest – this also makes them more perishable, which is a good thing; – because this means that they are ‘living’ and more nutrients are available. You can ‘extend’ their shelf life by dehydrating them or soaking and sprouting in small batches.

Raw vs roasted

Raw nuts contain high amounts of phytic acid – which inhibits enzymes and therefore inhibits nutrients from being absorbed.

Roasting nut without first soaking them can break down some of the phytic acid, but none of the nutrients are activated and the process may also destroy some of the nutrients.

Raw, soaked 

Soaking nuts gets rid of tannins (in walnuts, pecan nuts and almonds) and breaks down the enzyme inhibitors / phytic acid. Soak them in water with some sea salt or Himalayan rock salt. Once soaked drain and rinse well.

Soaking nuts, seeds and legumes are better for digestion. It starts the germination phase, which activates nutrients: enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids. It literally makes them come alive, and we know that living foods have the highest nutritional content making them so much better for us.

You could also flavour your nuts and seeds once you have soaked them and before you dehydrate them.

Nut / seed / legume Soak time Sprout time Dehydrating time and temp Dry roast slow (100°C) Dry roast quick (160°C)
ALMONDS 12 hours 12 hours* 1 hour @65°C

12 – 24 hours @45°C

2 hours 10 – 12 minutes
WALNUTS 4 – 8 hours 1 hour @65°C

6 – 12 hours @45°C

1 – 2 hours 10 minutes
MACADAMIA NUTS 4 – 8 hours Same as above 1 – 2 hours 10 minutes
CASHEW NUTS 4 – 8 hours Same as above 1 – 2 hours 10 minutes
BRAZIL NUTS 8 – 12 hours Same as almonds 2  hours 10 minutes
SUNFLOWER SEEDS 4 – 12 hours 2 days* 1 hour @65°C

4 – 8 hours @45°C

1 hour 150°C for 30 – 45 minutes
PUMPKIN SEEDS 8 hours 2 days* 1 hour @65°C

6 – 12 hours @45°C

1 – 2 hours 10 – 12 minutes
ALFALFA, FENUGREEK & OTHER SMALL SEEDS 6 – 12 hours 2  – 4 days
GRAINS (LIKE SPELT, WHEAT & RYE) 12 hours 2 – 4 days
LEGUMES 12 hours 2 – 4 days*
BUCKWHEAT 2 – 6 hours 2 days 1 hour @65°C

6 – 12 hours @45°C

*=optional

If you are dehydrating nuts together, use the longest time. Or just check if dehydrated enough

Shelf life note: It is difficult to find the exact shelf life for dehydrated nuts, the most common suggestions are 1 – 6 months, depending on how dehydrated the nuts / seeds are.

You can further improve the digestibility of nuts, seeds and legumes with supportive food combining, this is especially helpful for people with weak digestive systems.

Nuts and seeds have the potential to be super nutrient-dense. We need to unlock that potential by soaking them.

Tips:

  • Make your own nut flours by first soaking and dehydrating them and then grinding them up in a blender
  • Soak your nuts and seeds before grinding them to make a tart base (dehydrating is not always essential, depending on the recipe
  • Soak nuts before adding them to a smoothie / breakfast cereal
  • Soak, flavour and dehydrate your own nuts and seeds for a flavourful convenient snack

 

DID YOU KNOW:

Many traditional cultures used to soak nuts and seeds in seawater and dehydrate them in the sun.

Mass production of nuts and seeds activated and dehydrated is costly, and because society wants fast food, these methods have been lost.

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