Nuts & Seeds

Nuts are very healthy, nutritious and an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Nuts are high in fat and this is why many people hesitate to consume them. But they bring other benefits that might persuade you to use them more regularly. In winter for instance, when you are feeling cold. Nut pates will satisfy and warm you up from the inside out. Nuts are high in essential amino acids and healthy fats (omega 3 and 6), which make them a perfect partner for any vegan diet.

Great choices are almonds, cashews, walnuts, macademia nuts and pecan nuts. They bring a lovely variety into your raw diet. and replace all dairy products. Don’t go nuts with them though: all nuts except for almonds are acidifying. A handful a day is enough to provide your body with what it needs.

Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds add high values to your recipes. You can process them in raw muesli, make milk of them, cheese, in smoothies, pizza bottoms, crackers or cookies.

Why Soak Nuts & Seeds?

Nature is a genius. It has all the perfect systems to protect itself against predators and the threat of eradication. Starting with its source: the seeds, nature’s reproductive system. They need to survive storms, rain, high temperatures, animals, man. Their natural defence systems include enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances that will be removed naturally once the ideal circumstances are gathered to germinate those seeds for a new plant or tree. When you are not sure about what to do, look at nature and do the same. A seed uses rain to remove the toxins and to bring the enzymes to life.  We have to mimic those natural actions to optimise these foods before consuming them safely. By soaking your nuts and seeds you will minimize or eliminate the toxic substances inside of nuts and seeds. These are:

  • Enzyme inhibitors (who make it difficult to digest them properly)
  • Phytates (phytic acid)
  • Polyphenols (tannins)
  • Goitrogens

What are Enzyme inhibitors?

An enzyme inhibitor is a molecule which binds to enzymes and decreases their activity. The main groups of enzymes are:

  1. Digestive enzymes: they help to break down food
  2. Metabolic enzymes: they help every biological process in the body

To benefit from their properties it is key to activate them by soaking or/and partially sprouting them. Our ancestors knew this and took their time to prepare their foods. In these days there were hardly any digestive problems. We can learn from their ancient habits because they were living so much closer to nature than we are now. Enzymes are key for your life and energy!

What are Phytates?

“All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.”

“Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralise a large portion of phytic acid in grains. Soaking in warm water also neutralises enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.”

Soaking nuts and seeds will:

  • Enhance the production of valuable enzymes, generating many health benefits
  • Decrease or remove phytic acid
  • Decrease or remove tannins
  • For most sprouting will increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins
  • Break down gluten which makes digestion easier
  • Make the proteins more available for absorption

How do I Soak Nuts and Seeds?

Always try to purchase raw nuts and seeds. Soaking raw nuts and seeds  not only stimulates the process of germination, which increases the vitamin C, B, and carotenes (pre-vitamin A) content, but also neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acid is a substance in the bran of grains that can inhibit part of the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron.

Soak brown nuts in purified water to release the inhibitors and activate the enzymes. All you need to do is place them in a bowl covered with water overnight. Rinse well in the morning until the water is clear. Do not use this water as it is filled with toxins now. The nuts are now ready for use. If you want to store them you can dry them in your dehydrator or oven (at the lowest temperature with the door a bit open) or in the sun in summer. When they are dry, you can keep them one week in a sealed jar and have them available for any moment of the day. If you have a busy life, it is a good idea to prepare the quantity you think you will need that week so you can just grab them and create your meal.

Use glass jars to soak and sprout, no plastic because of their chemical content. These are approximately the soaking times you need to build in your time frame of preparation:

  • Almonds-  8  to 12 hours at room temperature
  • Walnuts-  4 hours at room temperature
  • Sesame seeds-  8 hours at room temperature
  • Sunflower seeds-  2 hours at room temperature
  • All other nuts- 6-24 hours at room temperature
NOTE: no need to soak Chia seeds.

Rinse and drain the nuts until the water is clear. If you want to be absolutely sure that no bacteria are left behind, you can give them a final rinse with organic apple cider vinegar.

Fresh soaked nuts and seeds keep well in the refrigerator for three days.

How do I Sprout Nuts and Seeds?

This article will reveal all the details about how to sprout seeds.

Benefits of nuts and seeds

Almonds

Almonds are a powerhouse of health benefits and indispensable in rawfood recipes. Those are the nuts you want to eat every day, not only because of their subtle taste but because of their alkaline properties. In fact almonds are the only nuts who are alkaline, all others are acid forming. This is good news because sometimes we tend to overeat nuts. If you do, better do it in almonds. Don’t peel them or you will throw away its most important benefit: high levels of antioxidant flavonoids who help to inhibit the oxidation of low density lipoproteins.  Plaque formation in the arteries will be reduced.

Each tiny nut is packed with valuable qualities…

  • Almonds contain high levels of calcium and are a great replacement for our daily  cup of milk
  • They are preventing us from osteoporosis
  • These high levels of calcium also lower the risk of colon and rectal cancers
  • Chewing a few almonds can relieve heartburn because of their high oil content
  • Although a high oil content, there is no cholesterol whatsoever
  • Almonds only provide “good” fat, the monounsaturated fat
  • These good fats help losing weight
  • One handful of almonds delivers us the necessary quantity of proteins we need that day
  • Another valuable antioxidant, vitamin E will nourish and protect us
  • They are loaded with minerals and healthy fiber
  • The phosphorus will build strong bones and teeth
  • The magnesium strengthens our muscles and heart
  • Another important electrolyte, potassium, is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function
  • They are a great source of folic acid
  • The tryptophan promotes sleep
  • Almonds can help keep your blood sugar under control while eating foods with a higher glycemic index and are extremely good for diabetics
  • So yes, go nuts with almonds…

Cashews

Those might be one of the most favorite nuts of everybody. With its soft sweetness and off white taint, it is always ready to use without soaking. Cashews are ideal to make fast milk, milk white cheeses or soothing desserts. They are a rich source of monounsaturated fats, Copper, Magnesium, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin and Calcium.

However… Most cashews are not raw, no matter what many manufacturers may claim. To remove cashews from their sticky shell, which is toxin, high heat is being used. Since the nuts were not roasted in this process, it doesn’t have to be mentioned on the package and so, are considered “raw” by the industry.

Truly raw cashews are cracked by hand with traditional knives and hand polished one by one to remove the thin skin around every nut. This is the reason why truly raw cashews are so expensive.

Always check your sources and make sure you are buying from genuine brands. If you are not fully raw (yet), you may not care about the difference but be aware of the fact that you will not benefit from eating them as these have been killed during the heating process.

Still, cashews do make your transitioning period from cooked to raw food easier because:

  • they are still cheaper than their alternative, raw pine nuts
  • they have a wonderful taste
  • they are easy to process while you are still learning
  • they add great possibilities during transition because of their soft texture (pies, cakes, dressings)
But as soon as you are fully raw and you are living on a higher level of consciousness, you will want to exclude any product that is being announced as “raw” by the industry but that is actually not. This is part of your learning and growing process.
How can you make sure if your purchased cashews are raw? Soak and sprout them. When they sprout, they are raw.

Some of the benefits of truly raw cashews are:

  • They contain no cholesterol
  • Cashew are a great body builder
  • They are an energizing food
  • Cashews help maintain healthy teeth and gums
  • Their healthy monounsaturated fat promote good cardiovascular health
  • Cashews are very rich in antioxidants, the anti aging nutrients and our protectors against cancer
  • They develop bone and connective tissue and produce the skin and hair pigment melanin.

To keep cashews well you need to refrigerate them in a sealed container. They will keep up for six months like this. If you freeze them, they last up to a year.

Walnuts

Walnuts are true brain food as you can tell from their shape. Walnuts contain l-arginine, an essential amino acid that the body uses to produce nitric oxide, necessary for keeping blood vessels flexible.

They also contain

  • A lot of omega 3 essential fatty acids.
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Healthy (monounsaturated) fats

Eating walnuts may…

  • … benefit your cardiovascular system
  • … improve cholesterol in individuals with type 2 diabetes
  • … help brain functions
  • … protect bone health
  • … help prevent gallstones
  • … help regulate sleep because of their bio-available melatonin

Açai Seeds

Chia Seeds

Known as the running food with the Aztecs, this little seeds was used for centuries as a staple food by the Indians. This high energy endurance food has so much power that one teaspoon keeps you going all day long.

Chia Seeds have the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water and offers your body a thorough hydration. They regulate the bodies absorption of nutrients and body fluids.

They provide you high concentrations of

  • Electrolytes
  • The environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells
  • Moisture
  • Protein (one and a half to two times more than in other grains)
  • Oil (Omega 3 – 3 to 10 times the oil concentrations of most grains)

They help you with…

  • Regeneration of muscle tissue
  • Energizing your body
  • Endurance
  • Extensive hydration
  • Problems of digestion
  • Diabetes
  • Calcium (it contains boron, the mineral which acts as catalyst for the absorption of calcium by the body)
  • Healing wounds

To make Chia gel (ratio 9 to 1)

  • Put your chosen amount of water in a glass container that you can seal
  • Slowly pour the according amount of seeds into the water while mixing well with a whisk
  • Wait a few minutes
  • Whisk again and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Whisk again before storing in the refrigerator.

This gel will keep up to 2 weeks and is lovely to add to jellies, jams, cereals, dressing and desserts.

Chia seeds don’t need to be soaked as they absorb all the water and only expel it slowly inside of the body.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds contain

  • vitamin E
  • linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid)
  • dietary fiber
  • protein
  • minerals such as magnesium and selenium
  • are high in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

Eating sunflower seeds may

  • help provide anti-inflammatory benefits
  • lower cholesterol
  • prevent cancer
  • help cardiovascular issues

Flax seeds

Flax seeds come in two varieties: golden and brown. If you want to prepare crackers or pizza bottoms with a light color, use the golden seeds. They won’t influence the colour of your creation. Grind flax seeds in your blender or coffee grinder and you have an excellent flour that binds the foods you make. By grinding you also gain the most benefits from their valuable nutrients. Best is to first sprout flax seeds and dry them before grinding to remove its high levels of phytic acid. If you don’t want to go through this “trouble”, you can purchase sprouted flax flour (Nativa’s Naturals).

However: flax seeds do come with a warning. A better choice is Chia seeds as they have more omega 3 than flax does. Flax seeds have a higher rate of omega 6 than 3 (a good rate is 1:1) and contain phytoestrogens, a carcinogenic. Especially men have to be moderate with their use because of the prostate. Phytoestrogens affect the hormonal balance which is so important to be in balance to reduce the risk of cancer!

There is a trend of over-consuming flax seed (oil) in The States. Half a teaspoon of flax seed or oil per day is enough to benefit from its good properties. Flax also contains very small amounts of cyanide compounds which is harmless in small amounts, especially when consumed raw. In large amounts though it could act to keep your thyroid from taking up enough iodine. So if you can replace the use of flax seeds by Chia seeds, you will benefit more.

Used in moderation, flax seeds will provide your body:

  • foliate
  • vitamin B6
  • high contents of most vitamins B
  • copper
  • magnesium
  • the phytochemical lignan which is believed to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties
  • antioxidants
  • phosphorus
  • fiber
  • alpha linolenic acid
  • manganese

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds add a wonderful flavor to stir-fries and salads, and are commonly found in Asian dishes. Add  a spoon to a vinegar and it will become exotic because of their delicious earthy flavor. Tahini is made from sesame seeds.

They are extremely healthy for you with their…

  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Dietary fiber
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Healthy (monosaturated) fats

Eating raw sesame seeds can

  • … provide relief for the pain and swelling symptoms of arthritis
  • … help strengthen bones and joints
  • … contribute to lowering high blood pressure
  • … thus reducing the risk of heat attack and stroke

Store sesame seeds in the refrigerator in a sealed bag or airtight container to maintain freshness or they can become rancid fast. The nutrients of sesame seeds are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverized before consumption.

Pumpkin Seeds

These very tasty seeds are very nice in your salads or morning muesli. Ever tried this lovely rich tasting oil? A few drops and your salad becomes a classy, very special

Eat the green hulled pumpkin seeds full of copper, magnesium, iron, copper, protein, vitamin K, phosphorus and…

  • … they may promote prostate health
  • … protect men’s bones
  • … manifest their anti-inflammatory benefits for arthritis
  • … help lower cholesterol
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