|Cumin-Spiced Sprouted Almonds|
Nourishing Traditions author Sally Fallon does an excellent job explaining why it's a good idea to soak nuts before consuming them. Raw nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, but they also contain anti-nutrients such as phytates, or phytic acid, and lectins—compounds that are found in all seeds, grains and beans as well as nuts. (Phytates and lectins get the most press, but they are not the only anti-nutrients in town. For a more complete list, click here.)
A primary evolutionary purpose of phytates, lectins and other anti-nutrients is to serve as enzyme inhibitors and to protect ungerminated seeds from rotting and predation, a good thing for seeds. These compounds only become "anti-nutrients" when they get into our bodies. However, recent research suggests that anti-nutrients may offer benefits to human health as well, introducing a hormetic, or quantitative, aspect into the puzzle.
For example, because phytic acid binds to minerals, it inhibits mineral absorption in our guts. Consequently, high phytate diets have been known to lead to mineral deficiencies. (Click here to learn more.) But phytates also exhibit beneficial antioxidant properties, and some studies suggest they may offer anti-cancer and cholesterol reducing benefits.
Lectins, on the other hand, are sticky proteins that bind to carbohydrates. Excess lectins in the diet are known to impair digestive, intestinal and immune health. But lectins aren't all bad, either. Several lectins have been found to possess anticancer properties, and some are being used as therapeutic agents to inhibit tumor growth. So again, it's a matter of quantity and application.
Nevertheless, when it comes to healthy eating and digestive comfort, it's still a good idea to soak off some of these compounds.
Soaking and sprouting seeds of all kinds (nuts, grains, beans) initiates the germination process and reduces anti-nutrient concentrations, helping to make these foods more nutritious and health-promoting overall. Our ancestors somehow recognized this and incorporated soaking into the traditional preparation of all seed-type foods.
In addition to diminishing their anti-nutrient content, presoaking or sprouting nuts, grains and beans helps to break down or "pre-digest" their proteins into amino acid form, improving digestibility. In esoteric terms, sprouting also activates the life force energy of a seed, turning it from simply a raw food into a living food. Living foods are naturally calibrated to interface beautifully with the living bio-electric matrix that defines our organism. ♥
Cumin-Spiced Sprouted Almonds
This simple raw recipe was inspired by my friend and neighbor Annie Aune's cumin-toasted almonds, which made me swoon. Cumin is just so delicious. :~)
4 cups raw almonds*
1 Tbs sea salt
water to cover, for soaking
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
ground black pepper to taste
Step 1: SOAK Place almonds in a large bowl, add the sea salt and enough water to cover by an inch or two. Stir well to dissolve salt. Soak for 8 hours or overnight. Pour off soak water, rinse almonds under clear running water, drain them, and return to bowl.
Step 2: SEASON Toss soaked almonds with olive oil to lightly coat each nut. Sprinkle top with about one-third of the cumin powder, several pinches of sea salt and a dusting of black pepper, then toss well. Sprinkle top again with another round of salt and seasonings and toss. Repeat a third time. (This three-part method prevents all the seasonings from clumping together in one spot.)
Step 3: DRY Spread seasoned almonds onto dehydrator trays lined with teflex sheets. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12 hours, then transfer almonds from teflex directly onto mesh liner sheets and continue drying for 12 more hours or until desired crispness is achieved.
Allow to cool and store in glass jars.
* As I mentioned in my post on how to make French Press Almond Milk, it's been a challenge to find really raw almonds since almond pasteurization laws went into effect in 2007. Today, almost all commercially available organic raw almonds are "pasteurized" with steam, while non-organic raw almonds are treated with either surface chemicals or radiation (scary). It is still possible to purchase unpasteurized, truly raw almonds, however. Californians can buy direct from farmer in quantities of less than 100 pounds, and some online vendors carry them, but the cost is often high. Health food stores catering to raw foodists will offer really raw almonds in bags. I can order truly raw almonds from an Italian grower through my Community Superfoods connections. Local Pioneer Valley readers, please contact me or leave a comment below if you're interested and I'll hook you up!