Getting the most out of nuts and seeds

It’s pretty amazing how small the world is and how far you can get in a short space of time but more amazing is how much one can learn in just 5 days on an intensive workshop.

Last week, I travelled to Santa Teresa, a small beach ‘town’ on the West Coast of Costa Rica to learn from the very wonderful and talented Raw food chef Joanne Gerrard Young at The Healing Cuisine.

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It was not only one of the most delicious food weeks I’ve ever had but it gave me some really creative and healthy options for some of the most popular foods in my kitchen.

Ever considered making ice-cream with avocado? Frittata without eggs? Chocolate brownie without sugar? Cheesecake that is so healthy you could eat the whole plate and it would actually be good for you?

Even the water tasted good – pure alkaline water from the jungle.

I’d like to remind you that it doesn’t take much to eat a really healthy diet.

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This week really enforced the importance of soaking all nuts and seeds as well. Something I must admit I normally slack on and eat nuts by the handfuls or sprinkle seeds to any dish I can, but since Costa Rica, all that has changed!

Soaking nuts and seeds is really important. Although they are a great source of protein and nutrients, your body can struggle to absorb them if they are not soaked.

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Raw nuts, and seeds especially, have high levels of phytic acid, a form of bound phosphorous. While phytic acid is useful in protecting the seeds until germination, when eaten by us humans it binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract causing irritation and contributing to the potential for nutrient deficiencies.

Raw nuts also contain a significant amount of enzyme inhibitors, which act to prevent the nut or seed from sprouting prematurely in nature.

So what’s the solution? Easy, simply soak the nuts and seeds in a bowl of uncovered filtered water with a bit of salt to neutralise the phytates and enzyme inhibitors which make them more digestible and allow us to benefit from the rich nutrients they provide.

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After soaking, ideally, they should then be dried – either in a dehydrator or in an oven. The combination of minerals and heat works to break down irritating compounds, while preserving the beneficial fats and proteins.

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Here is a simple guide on soaking time for nuts and seeds:

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Enjoy! I’ll be posting recipes soon so keep your eyes peeled.