In Legume Love, I mentioned that, ideally, you should eat sprouted legumes. In addition to legumes, it is a good idea to stick to sprouted (or at least soaked) seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, rice, etc.) and nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.) whenever possible. Exceptions include macadamia nuts, hemp seeds, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts, which can be consumed raw.
I recently learned that some additional steps help to further neutralize the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors:
- Add 1-2 tbsps of Himalayan or sea salt to your filtered soaking water.
- When the nuts/seeds/legumes are done soaking/sprouting, rinse them and pat them dry with a clean dish towel.
- Dehydrate the nuts/seeds/legumes in a dehydrator/oven/toaster oven for 12-24 hours.
Many raw nuts/seeds/legumes are not easily digestible. The soak/sprout-dehydrate process neutralizes the nutritional drawbacks of raw nuts/seeds/legumes while maintaining their benefits.
For the dehydration part, most raw foodies recommend a temperature of 105-120°F. Currently, I use my toaster oven as a dehydrator because it has a minimum temperature of 120°F. However, when this appliance-loving yuppie moves to the ‘burbs, she’ll be acquiring one of these bad boys. If you’re not a strict raw foodie, you can dehydrate your nuts at 150-200°F (i.e. the minimum temperature for many ovens/toaster ovens) without major nutrient depletion. Dry roasting above 250°F is much faster than dehydrating and brings out the flavors of the nuts/seeds/legumes, but higher temperatures result in the neutralization of enzymes, the depletion of other nutrients (i.e. iron, magnesium, and phosphorus), and the formation of acrylamide (click here, here, and here for more information regarding this carcinogen).
Side note: Did you know that most “raw” almonds in the US aren’t actually raw?!?! In September 2007, the USDA passed a regulation requiring California growers to sterilize almonds for sanitation purposes. Organic almonds are usually steam pasteurized, but conventional almonds are often treated with chemicals. If you want truly raw almonds, buy the nuts directly from farmers or purchase nuts grown outside the US.
Whatever you do, stay away from “roasted” (read: fried) nuts that list oil as an ingredient. Your typical bar nuts are not only devoid of enzymes, depleted of nutrients, and full of acrylamide, the nuts (and the oil in which they were fried) are also definitely low quality and possibly rancid. Even if you can forget about all the dirty hands that grabbed nuts from that bowl, remember that the nuts themselves are toxic.
I totally understand if you don’t want to go through the hassle of sprouting and dehydrating (a.k.a. activating) your own nuts/seeds/legumes. The spout/dehydrate process is time consuming, plus quality dehydrators are pricey and take up precious counter space. I occasionally embark on activation adventures, but most of the time I buy pre-sprouted nuts/seeds/legumes. Living Intentions, Living Nutz, Go Raw, and Moon Juice sell sprouted/activated nuts and seeds. Food for Life, Ludenberg, and Tru Roots offer sprouted grains and legumes, as well as products made with sprouted legumes/seeds/nuts (e.g. breads, cereals, and pastas). Don’t forget to ask your local grocery store to stock your favorites and check out your local farmers market for fresh sprouts!