Seeds and nuts, like chia and almonds are convenient little energy powerhouses. They contain perfect ratios of protein, fats and carbohydrates, they are easy to use, and almost everyone likes them. But did you know that almost all ancient cultures soaked their nuts, seeds and grains? Never heard of this and want to know more? Here’s the scoop.
Seeds and nuts are covered in something called an enzyme inhibitor. It’s a protective barrier, preventing germination until the prime conditions are met – rain and lots of sun. In the wild, enzyme inhibitors make sure the seed or nut doesn’t sprout prematurely, before it will survive into reproduction. In the kitchen, these enzyme inhibitors prevent our bodies from absorbing and digesting all the minerals, vitamins and proteins packed inside. Getting rid of enzyme inhibitors is simple: soak ‘em!
Just like most things that are good for your health, pre-soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds takes some pre-planning and effort. But once you get it down, its no big deal. Most nuts and seeds will have shed their enzymes in 12-24 hours. Almonds were linked to an e-coli scare a few years ago and US producers are now required to pasteurize them, either by steam or chemical means. Because of this, almonds should get the longest soak and their soak water should be switched after 12 hours. Seeds like flax and chia are what is called hydrophilic and will absorb their weight and more in whatever liquid they are soaked in. Its normal for them to form a gel like consistency. The best way to soak chia seeds can be found here.
While soaking and maybe even sprouting nuts and seeds can help you digest and absorb more nutrients, don’t be alarmed if you haven’t (or just won’t) do it. Eating these little guys with out the extra time and attention is still good for you. In fact, if a simple convenient snack is what you need to stay on track, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option. A handful of walnuts here, shaking some chia on your salad there – all good things!