I absolutely love nuts. I really could nibble on them all day. People are often scared that this will make them fat, but I lost my last 10 pounds while including nuts as part of my daily regimen. So I thought, if I’m obsessed with nuts, others must feel the same way.
Tips to select and store nuts:
Here are some tips to help you consume them in a way that will work with your body and give you the most nutrients possible. Nuts are made from oils that can go rancid. We don’t think of nuts as a food that goes bad, but they do. Complicating the matter, rancid nuts can still taste good. So how do we protect ourselves from these toxic oils?
Buy raw nuts: Roasted nuts have been cooked at high heat which not only destroys the nutrient profile of the nut, but also makes the oil in the nut rancid. Additionally, roasted nuts are usually cooked in vegetable oil which is problematic because these oils spoil at high heats.
Buy at bulk section: Nuts that are packaged can sit for long periods of time before reaching store shelves. Nuts in the bulk section tend to be fresher. There is a catch though. If a store doesn’t sell a lot of nuts, the bulk section will have a chance to spoil too. I like buying them from the bins at my local whole foods store because there is a constant rotation of product.
Storage: Once you bring nuts home, store them in the fridge. The cooler temperature will prolong their shelf life and help keep the nuts fresh. The oil in the nut is a lot more stable at cooler temperatures.
Retain the goodness: Nuts are full of vitamins and minerals, they are also a source of phytic acid, which can stop certain needed minerals from being utilized as well as enzyme inhibitors that can lead to indigestion and tummy troubles. But before you throw them away, know that there is a way to help neutralize the unhealthy components of nuts as well as improve their nutrient profile. This is through the proper soaking of nuts. This simple process helps destroy the unhealthy components as well as make more vitamins and minerals in the nut more available.
Soaking: Soak nuts overnight, for at least 8 hours. Add salt to the soaking mixture to activate enzymes that neutralize the enzyme inhibitors. Then drain them and put them on a pan in the oven at 150 degrees until they are dry. I use my convection oven since my normal oven doesn’t go that low. If your oven only starts at 200 degrees, keep the oven door partially open to let out some of the heat. You may be tempted to turn up the heat to get them to dry faster, but resist this urge. Remember that high heat will burn the oils in the nuts and destroy the nutrients. Another option is to use a dehydrator if you have one. Just make sure they are dry before storing them in the fridge so they don’t grow mold. This may be quite consuming, for a quicker fix make nuts in small batches and consume immediately.
Soaking instruction taken from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.
Sprouting: Sprouting nuts have similar advantages as soaking them. Sprouting makes many of the vitamins and minerals more available. Sprouting can also remove the phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors. If you are uninspired or time restricted, you can easily buy sprouted nuts, but they will cost you a pretty penny.
Soak nuts with salt overnight in a jar with a sealed screen or covered by a cheesecloth. Then drain the jar and move it to a warm shady area in the home. After 12 hours, rinse the nuts and drain. Return them to the warm dark area. Repeat this process every 12 hours until sprouted. Timing can vary, but this usually takes from 1 to 3 days. Keep an eye out for a small tail that begins to grow, which indicates sprouting. It doesn’t need to be very long. Once it starts to grow, you are done. Follow the oven drying process described above for soaking nuts.
So enjoy your nuts. Nuts contain wonderful, healthy fat. I love using them as a snack for weight loss (in moderation). It is better to consume fat that will fill you than starchy or sugary snacks that will upset blood sugar and lead to hunger and fat storage. So have nuts more often, but prepare them properly to get the best out of their nutritional potential.
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