Sunday, February 1, 2009

Crispy Nuts or Sweet Almonds

Nuts are a great snack to eat. Eating nuts with foods higher in carbohydrates (fruits, veggies) helps keep blood sugar levels more even. They also help you stay fuller longer. However, nuts also have naturally occuring enzyme inhibitors that may cause digestive problems (like wheat and other grains). According to Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions, we should imitate the Aztecs in soaking them first in brine then drying them out in the sun before using the nuts. The salt helps activate the enzymes that break down the enzyme inhibitors in raw nuts. Giving the enzymes enough time to do their job, we can dehydrate the nuts to make them crispy.

This recipe below is adapted from Nourishing Traditions, my all-time-favorite cookbook. You can use just about any nut; you may have to adjust the time spent dehydrating and soaking though. See notes below for exceptions.

4 C raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews*, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)
1 Tbsp sea salt
good filtered water

Soak nuts in filtered water and sea salt for at least 7 hours or overnight. Place in oven or dehydrator no higher than 150 degrees. Leave in heat from 12 to 24 hours. Smaller nuts will take less time than bigger nuts.

Cashews: soak for no longer than 6 hours. Place in 200 to 250 degree oven for 12 to 24 hours.

What about the Sweet Almonds? Well, I discovered this one day when I was experimenting with stevia. My favorite brand of Stevia is called SweetLeaf. They have LOTS of different flavors of stevia. I soak my almonds for a day (or two, I always change the water daily). Just a small amount of nuts, enough for snacking. I keep them wet and cold in the fridge. When I am ready to eat them, I put a few drops of cinnamon-flavored stevia (this stuff is pretty powerful and bitter if too strong) and mix the almonds around. I find them easier to eat this way, raw and wet, although I may try one day to sweeten them and then dehydrate them to see how the taste is affected. They taste like those crunchy coated nuts at the carnivals and fairs without the sugar, flour, corn syrup, and anything else they add that is unhealthy for us.

Photo from flickr by gaetanlee

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