The best way to eat nuts and seeds and gain the nutritious benefits is to eat them soaked and dehydrated. You can soak and dehydrate walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and sesame seeds. Always purchase raw, unsalted nuts and seeds. Soak them overnight in filtered water. Optionally add 1T sea salt per 2 cups of nuts. Dehydrate them for at least 8-15 hours. Dehydrate them using a dehydrator or on a baking sheet in an oven set at the lowest temperature your oven will go ie. around 100 degrees F (and no more than 150 degrees). Smaller nuts and seeds dehydrate in less time – a good test is the bite-test and they should no longer be soft and soggy. Soaking and dehydrating can also be done before grinding nuts and seeds for nut butters. If you don’t dehydrate your nuts and seeds, you can still get the benefits of soaking – but they must be eaten immediately to avoid spoiling. Dehydrating makes them last longer – and imparts a delicious buttery flavor.
Why soak your nuts and seeds?
- It neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors which make them difficult to digest
- It neutralizes the phytates (present in the bran of all grains and seeds) which inhibit the absorption of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and copper
- The germination process increases many nutrients in the nuts and seeds, such as vitamin C, the B vitamins and carotenes. It also produces enzymes
- Some of the complex carbs are broken down into simpler sugars, which make them easier to digest
Soaking and dehydrating your nuts and seeds imitates the ancient Aztec practice of soaking pumpkin seeds and drying them in the sun before eating them whole or grinding them into a meal. The Native Americans also soaked nuts and seeds.
If you don’t always have time to soak and dehydrate your nuts and seeds, going for raw and unsalted is the next best option.
I’m a big fan of pumpkin seeds and mention them a lot in my book The Antianxiety Food Solution www.antianxietyfoodsolution.com, recommend them to my clients and talk about them when I present and am interviewed. They are just one of the many great mood foods I talk about on my Fox40 interview http://www.everywomanover29.com/blog/foods-for-your-moods-fox-40-anxiety/ And why do I like them so much? They are higher in zinc that other nuts and are also a great snack to help with blood sugar control.
My personal favorite recipe for pumpkin seeds is a short-cut version of the dehydrating method. Soak 2 cups pumpkin seeds overnight and place in a casserole dish or baking tray with 2T olive oil, 1T tumeric and ½ T ginger with sea salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 250 degrees F, stirring once after 5 minutes. This higher temperature does destroy some of the enzymes, so if you notice more bloating or digestive distress with this method then try the slower and lower temperature method.
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Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of www.everywomanover29.com, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): ”You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”