This is another Raw Food inspired post. During the summer, I worked with a couple people who were interested in the Raw Food Diet, which, naturally, rubbed off on me. While I spent hours Googling information, I stumbled upon some interesting information concerning brown skinned nuts (almond, pecans, walnuts, etc..). The articles/websites I read claimed that, to get the full, enzyme rich benefits of these nuts, you need to soak them for hours before consumption (and the same goes for lentils, chickpeas, and beans, which you normally fix by cooking). I read some raw foodists even go as far as to call un-soaked almonds empty calories! I had a hard time believing this at first and originally struggled to find reasons for why the enzymes were unavailable without soaking. I have since discovered the logic behind this claim...
You need to soak nuts & seeds because enzyme inhibitors in the skin prevent the nuts from releasing the enzymes that allow sprouting, before ideal growing conditions are met. So, you need to soak your nuts, simulating this ideal environment, to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and allow for the release of the enzymes that are one of the main reasons for eating raw food.
Here are a couple useful websites about the benefits of soaking nuts (specifically almonds):
- Buzzle.com (also includes instructions on how to properly soak nuts)
- Raw Food Living (also includes helpful table for soaking and sprouting times)
There are, of course, arguments against the usefulness of this practice. Some claim that enzymes are indeed helpful, but are species specific. We need human enzymes, which our body produces, and the plant enzymes are just destroyed by our stomach acid anyways (Wellsphere). Obviously, I am no scientist, and cannot vouch for either argument...ultimately, I just decided that there is no harm in soaking nuts, better safe than sorry. So, I now soak my nuts.
However, soaked nuts are disgusting...I have read people who claim they like them better soaked...lies. They taste like grass...or something. Anyways, I am luckily saved from eating grassy nuts by my dehydrator.
This is what I do...
I soak my nuts according to the times recommended from that website above, drain and rinse them, lay them out on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate them until they return to their former selves. I find this works perfectly with walnuts and pecans...almonds, on the other hand, have been hit or miss. I think it depends on the quality of almond with which you begin. I tend to prefer almonds' taste and texture pre-soaking/dehydrating, though others I know prefer it post. Luckily, I find processing them into almond butter resolves any texture issue.
Another important note about raw nuts, though...this soaking and dehydrating process is really only useful if the nuts are definitely raw in the first place. Most shelled nuts aren't, as they go through an intense heating process to release them from the shells. Additionally, "raw" almonds rarely are, even if they are labelled as such. Almonds are most often pasteurized, especially those from California (Here's an article about the controversy: Food Scam) with intense heat killing the potentially helpful enzymes anyways. So, if you're going to do this, make sure your almonds are actually raw. You can order truly raw almonds online. Fortunately for me, my local health food store carries truly raw almonds, in addition to a warning label on the California "Raw" almonds! What luck!
Also, here's an article that discusses issues between raw and roasted almonds called A Kernel of Truth...apparently roasted almonds could be harmful to our health!?