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Learn how to quickly and easily remove anti-nutrients, like phytic acids from nuts and seeds by soaking them.
Nuts and seeds can be a great addition to a keto lifestyle. Not only are they low-carb, but filled with healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals! I love using nuts and seeds in my keto-friendly recipes, like my Nut and Seed Bread, “Candied” Almonds, and Roasted Turmeric Pumpkin Soup.
While most nuts and seeds can certainly be called superfoods and are totally delicious, they can also be problematic. Consuming raw nuts and seeds can cause digestive issues and negatively affect the absorption of nutrients. But don’t worry! If you like eating those crunchy powerhouses by the handful, there is a quick solution to remove those pesty anti-nutrients that are the cause of this!
What are anti-nutrients?
Raw nuts and seeds are relatively high in phytic acid. Phytic acid is a protective coating found in nuts, seeds, beans, and grains that helps them to survive the cold winter and keeps them safe until it’s time for germination. That’s good for the plants, but not so good for us humans, since we don’t produce phytase – an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid.
Once in our digestive system, phytic acid binds to minerals, including zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron. While a small amount of phytic acid doesn’t appear to be problematic (and actually has several positive health effects), a high and constant intake could lead to some nutrient deficiencies.
Additionally, nuts and seeds also contain notable amounts of enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors prevent our nutty fellas from sprouting prematurely (again, good for them!), but can also bind to minerals in our gastrointestinal tract and cause digestive issues (you know what I’m talking about).
How does soaking help with anti-nutrients?
Soaking is like the spring rain that breaks down the phytic acid and lets the seeds know they can now safely germinate! Anti-nutrients are not only safely neutralized in a soak of water and salt, but the healthy fats, proteins, and nutrients in the nuts are further preserved by the low temperature dehydration that follows.
The method and preparation steps of soaking and dehydrating nuts is taken from Sally Fallon’s insightful book Nourishing Traditions. It provides many examples of how traditional cultures made foods more digestible and nutritious, and which foods should be avoided.
This knowledge is not new or modern. As Fallon discusses in her book Nourishing Traditions, traditional cultures have been practicing this method of preparing grains, nuts, seeds, and beans for generations. Sadly, today’s manufactures go the fast and cheap route of preparing nuts and seeds by quickly roasting them with high heat, often in unhealthy seed oils.
How to easily soak nuts and seeds!
Soaking nuts and seeds is pretty simple and easy. You just need one basic recipe that you can use for a variety of nuts and seeds.
Start off my measuring 4 cups of raw, unsalted, and preferably organic nuts and seeds. Place them in a glass jar or bowl (glass works greats because it’s non-reactive). Add enough room-temperature, filtered water to cover all the nuts/seeds. Then add 1-2 tbsp salts (amount depends on the nuts/seeds used), stir, and let sit overnight, about 8-12 hours. However, even just a couple of hours of soaking helps a lot with removing antinutrients.
Then simply drain, rinse, and spread the nuts on a lined baking sheet and dry at 150 F overnight or until completely dry and crispy. If you have a dehydrator, you can use a lower temperature of 120 degrees or below (ovens often don’t go below 150). If you plan to use them for a baking recipe like my Nut and Seed Bread, you can roast your nuts/seeds on 325 F on a lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes, until they turn crispy and fragrant.
Now you can keep your dehydrated nuts and seeds in an airtight container in the pantry. If you skip the dehydration step, you can keep them for a few days in fridge.
Tips for making healthy, soaked nuts and seeds!
Nuts and seeds. Just about any raw, unsalted, and preferably organic nuts and seeds will work. This includes walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts (skinless), pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.
This recipe won’t work for chia seeds or flax seeds, as they will turn slimy (you may want to look into fermenting them to remove their very high phytic acid content). Or read here why I typically avoid these two ingredients!
Water. Use filtered water at room temperature or lukewarm. Just add enough water to cover all the nuts/seeds.
Salt. Go for sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds will need 2 tablespoons per 4 cups of nuts/seeds. Skinless hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamias, almonds, and sesame seeds only require 1 tablespoon of salt.
Soak time. 8-12 hours of soaking works best, but just a couple of hours of soaking can already remove some anti-nutrients from your nut and seeds.
Low-temperature dehydrating. Low-temperature dehydrating preserves most of the vitamins and minerals in the nuts/seeds, but if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven’s lowest setting to gently bake them. Dehydrate your nuts/seeds until they are COMPLETELY dry and crispy, as otherwise they will develop mold.
Roasting. Alternatively, you can roast your nuts and seeds on a higher temperature of 325 for about 15 minutes. I do that with nuts I’m planning on using for my Nut and Seed Bread or “Candied” Almonds.
Enjoy your nuts without the discomfort!
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MORE KETO TIPS
How to Soak Nuts and Seeds to Easily Remove Anti-Nutrients
- 4 cups nuts or seeds walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts (skinless), pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds.
- filtered water room temperature
- 1-2 tbsp salt sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- Place your nuts or seeds in a large glass jar (½ gallon Mason jar) or glass bowl. Completely cover with filtered water.
- For pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds add 2 tablespoons of salt. For skinless hazelnuts, pine nuts, macadamias, almonds, and sesame seeds add 1 tbsp of salt. Stir and let soak.
- Soak nuts or seeds for 8-12 hours (overnight works great). If short on time, a couple of hours are good, too.
- Option 1 Dehydration. Spread out on single layer on dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 120 ℉ or lower until COMPLETELY dry and crispy. To dehydrate in oven, turn oven on lowest setting (150 ℉ or lower) place nuts/seeds on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake. Dehydration time can vary between 6-24 hours, depending on temperature, amount and kinds of nuts/seeds.
- Option 2 Roasting. If in a hurry or planning on using nuts/seeds for another baking recipe, you can roast them at 325 ℉ for 10-15 minutes until crispy and fragrant.