September 21, 2010

Crispy nuts

Crispy nuts (meaning almonds, walnuts, pecans etc) are a big hit at our house. I discovered them through a book about traditional food preparations, called Nourishing Traditions, and they have since become a staple in our diet. But what are "Crispy Nuts"? And why not just eat nuts? I'm glad you asked!

While nuts are very healthy for us and a great source of protein and good fat, as well as being in possession of cancer preventing, heart disease preventing and other amazing properties, they can be pretty hard to digest in their natural state. In fact, some of you may think that you can't eat nuts because they make your stomach hurt or your throat itch. But what you may be experiencing is a reaction to the enzyme inhibitors that exist in nuts. The best way to deactivate those enzyme inhibitors and make those nuts more digestible is to soak the nuts in some water and a little salt and then dehydrate them.

Though I first encountered this information in Nourishing Traditions and other food journals, I can actually vouch for the difference it makes in my own ability to enjoy eating raw nuts. Prior to learning this method, my throat would itch uncomfortably when I ate walnuts and I didn't really like the taste of raw almonds, though I figured they were probably better for me than roasted nuts because they didn't have a bunch of salt or artificial flavoring all over them.

After I tried soaking both almonds and walnuts, the itchy problem completely disappeared and I also discovered I loved the taste of the soaked almonds. And, my husband, who has always hated walnuts, thinks these ones taste amazing. They have a toasty, addictive flavor. Healthier than chips and a million times tastier!

Here's the recipe I use

Crispy Almonds
1 1/2 pounds of almonds a glass container
Filtered water to cover the nuts by a few inches
1 T. SEA salt NOT table salt

1. Leave the nuts in a warm place to soak overnight or for at least 7 hours. See the above pic.
2. After soaking, just pour the water off and dump the nuts on a big cookie sheet and place in the oven at 150 degrees F for 12-24 hours.

When they're done, the inside of the nuts should look kinda toasty and they'll have a roasty, crunchy taste and texture.

Nourishing Traditions suggests slightly less salt for walnuts and pecans but I confess that I rarely measure for this recipe. I just toss approximately a tablespoon for all three recipes and they always taste great. Also, NT recommends storing walnuts and pecans in the fridge, though ours rarely last long enough for this to be necessary.

Dehydrators work great for this process because the oven stays free for other uses. Unfortunately, my dehydrator isn't very big and I got tired of making these in batches so, I switched to my oven. It is important to note that according to raw food gurus, you need to keep the temp under 115 F in order to keep those digestive enzymes alive. But, if you don't have a dehydrator or if your oven doesn't go below 200, you'll still be getting a healthier product than what you'd be buying in the store.

I do want to mention that if you have an actual nut allergy - like something that causes anaphylaxis - I am NOT recommending this as a remedy. But, if you find that eating nuts just bothers your stomach a little or you just don't like the flavor, this is the recipe for you!

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