What Does It Mean to Activate Nuts and Seeds?
Activated nuts and seeds are those that have been soaked in water for a while, usually between 6-12 hours, and then dehydrated at a low temperature. This process mimics the natural germination process that occurs in nature, triggering enzymes and breaking down compounds like phytates and enzyme inhibitors. The result? Nuts and seeds that are easier to digest, packed with nutrients, and have a deliciously crispy texture.
Health Benefits of Activating Nuts and Seeds
The activation process improves the nutrient profile of nuts and seeds in several ways:
- Increases nutrient availability: By breaking down phytates and enzyme inhibitors, activated nuts and seeds become more easily absorbed by the digestive system, with better bioavailability of the nutrients contained within. This means you get more bang for your buck when it comes to nutritional value.
- Boosts digestion: Soaking nuts and seeds helps soften them, making them easier on our digestive systems. This can be especially beneficial for those with digestive issues or sensitive stomachs.
- Reduces anti-nutrients: Phytates and enzyme inhibitors can bind to minerals, making them less available for our bodies to use. Activating nuts and seeds reduces the levels of these compounds, ensuring you get the most out of your food.
- Enhances flavour and texture: The process of activating nuts and seeds not only improves their nutritional value but also gives them a deliciously crispy texture that is perfect for snacking or adding to meals.
What Are Phytates?
Phytates, or phytic acid, are natural polyphenol compounds found in various plant foods, including nuts and seeds. They serve as the primary storage form of phosphorus in these plants. While phytates benefit plants, they can be less advantageous for human consumption.
This is due to their tendency to bind to minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc, potentially inhibiting our ability to absorb these essential nutrients effectively. The activation process becomes crucial here, as it reduces phytate levels in nuts and seeds, thereby improving nutrient availability in these foods or other foods you may consume simultaneously.
Despite their reputation for reducing mineral absorption, it's important to note that phytates are not entirely bad. In fact, research suggests that phytates have antioxidant properties, which can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. A review study found that phytic acid may lower the incidence of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Some phytates have demonstrated protective effects in conditions like osteoporosis. A lab study published in Nutrients revealed that phytates may protect against bone loss and degradation, therefore protecting the structure of the skeletal system. However, given their potential to limit mineral absorption, you need to balance the consumption of phytate-rich foods with foods like activated nuts for optimal nutrient intake.
How to Activate Nuts and Seeds at Home
Ready to give it a try? Here's a simple step-by-step guide on how to activate different types of nuts and seeds:
- First, measure out the amount of nuts or seeds you want to activate. It's best to do this in small batches as they will expand when soaked.
- Place the nuts or seeds in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Make sure there is enough water to submerge them fully.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt to the water and stir until it dissolves. The addition of salt helps to break down phytates even further.
- Let the seeds soak for up to 6 hours. Different nuts take different soaking times. Softer nuts like cashews and pecans require less time, while harder nuts like almonds and walnuts may need up to 12 hours.
- After soaking, drain and rinse the nuts or seeds well.
- Spread them in a single layer on a dehydrator tray or baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Dehydrate at a low temperature (around 60°C) for 12-24 hours until they are dry and crispy. If using an oven, set it to the lowest temperature and open the door slightly to allow moisture to escape.
- Once fully dry, store in an airtight container for up to a month.
What Nuts and Seeds Can Be Activated?
The short answer is almost all of them. Some popular options include:
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
The process may vary slightly depending on the nut or seed, so it's best to do some research and follow specific guidelines. And don't be afraid to experiment with your favourites.
Activate Your Health with Soaked Nuts & Seeds
Activated nuts and seeds are a simple and nutritious addition to any diet. You can easily incorporate them into your meals and snacks by understanding what they are, their health benefits, and how to activate them at home. So, get creative with your usage of activated nuts and seeds.
Recipes Using Activated Nuts and Seeds
Activated nuts and seeds can be used in various sumptuous dishes and snacks. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started:
Activated Almond Hummus
Why not give your hummus an exciting twist? This recipe is not only delicious but packed with nutrients.
- 1 cup activated almonds, soaked overnight
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons water or as needed
- Paprika and fresh parsley for garnish
- Rinse and drain your activated almonds.
- Place the almonds, tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, ground cumin, and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
- If the hummus appears too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time and blend until you reach your desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with fresh parsley.
- Serve with freshly cut vegetables, activated seed crackers, or warm pita bread.
Activated Brazil Nut Cheese Recipe
This Activated Brazil Nut Cheese is a fantastic dairy-free and vegan-friendly option that doesn't compromise flavour. It makes a great addition to your cheese board or as a spread on crackers.
- 2 cups activated Brazil nuts, soaked overnight
- 1 cup water
- 1-2 capsules of probiotics (available at health food stores)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Optional seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, herbs
- After soaking, rinse and drain your activated Brazil nuts.
- Add the nuts, water, contents of the probiotic capsules (discard the capsule itself), and salt to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If you want a chunkier texture, pulse instead of blending continuously.
- Transfer the mixture to a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. Twist and secure the top with a rubber band or string.
- Let the cheese ferment at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, depending on your taste preference. The longer it ferments, the tangier it will be.
- After fermentation, remove the cheese from the cloth. Feel free to add optional seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, or herbs. Stir well to combine.
- You can use the cheese immediately, or for a firmer texture, shape it into a wheel or block and refrigerate for a few hours.
- Serve your Activated Brazil Nut Cheese with activated seed crackers, fresh fruits, or incorporate it into your favourite recipes.
Activated Cashew Cheesecake
Enjoy this decadent dessert! This activated cashew cheesecake is vegan, gluten-free and celebrates the wonderful combination of activated cashews, sweet dates, and creamy coconut!
For the crust:
For the filling:
- 2 cups activated cashews, soaked overnight
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Start by making the crust. Blend the activated almonds, dates, and a pinch of sea salt in a food processor until a dough-like consistency is achieved.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of a lined springform pan and place it in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Rinse and drain the activated cashews. Combine the cashews, melted coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, coconut cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the filling over the crust in the springform pan, spreading it out evenly.
- Place the cheesecake in the freezer for at least 4 hours or until it's firm enough to slice.
- When ready to serve, let the cheesecake thaw at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Activated Energy Bites
Try making these delicious energy bites with activated nuts and seeds for a quick and nourishing snack.
- 1 cup activated cashews
- 1 cup activated almonds
- 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- A pinch of sea salt
- Shredded coconut or sesame seeds for rolling (optional)
- Blend the activated cashews and almonds in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
- Add the pitted dates, coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Blend until smooth.
- Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls.
- Roll the balls in shredded coconut or sesame seeds for extra flavour and texture.
- Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze them for longer storage.