Soaking Nuts and Legumes

by lydia on October 13, 2010

Nuts contain numerous enzyme inhibitors, such as phytic acid, that can put a real strain on the digestive system if consumed in excess. Nuts are easier to digest, and their nutrients are more readily available, if they are first soaked in a salt water solution overnight then dried on low heat in your oven or a dehydrator. The salt in the water activates enzymes that will neutralize the enzyme inhibitors. This practice is quite simple and only takes a bit of advance planning. I like to soak several kinds of nuts at a time, and maximize my oven time by doing as many nuts as I can at a time. In Edward Howell’s book, ‘Food Enzymes for Health and Longevity’, he states;

If you eat substantial quantities of raw pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts or others, you have a choice of swallowing enzyme capsules with them to neutralize their enzyme inhibitors or first germinating the nuts and letting nature do the job through increase enzyme activity resulting from germination. . . In the year 1918 or thereabouts, I was imbued with the idea of trying to avoid cooked food because of the potential destructiveness of heat. . . I thought that raw meat was unsuited for the human diet and that the protein and fat of palatable raw tree nuts would take its place. . . after a period of about two months, during which I consumed liberal quantities of raw tree nuts of several kinds, I began experiencing an unpleasant heavy sensation in the abdomen and a feeling of extreme fullness and some nausea. The symptoms were pronounced enough to force my giving up on this tasty diet. Almost anyone can eat several nuts without feeling any effect. But it is common knowledge that nuts “are heavy on the stomach” if consumed in substantial quantity. The enzyme inhibitors in seeds explain the mystery, but they were not identified until 1944.’ Since nuts have a high oil content typically they are recommended to be stored in the refrigerator.’

However the soaking and dehydrating method allows them to stay fresher and more stable, keeping for many months at room temperature in an airtight container. Walnuts are an exception, store them in the refrigerator regardless. The same goes for soaking all legumes. Taking care to properly prepare legumes by soaking and long cooking periods will ensure that they will be thoroughly digestible (no gas or bloating), and all the nutrients that they provide will be well assimilated. This careful soaking method neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and breaks down the very difficult to digest complex sugars found in legumes.
You know the saying, ‘Beans, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat ’em the more you fart’. Well that doesn’t have to be the case, and in fact that gas should be a signal to you that something isn’t right, and that you can’t properly digest your food.
Canned beans are best avoided if possible, as the high temperatures and pressures used in the canning process over-denature the proteins and other nutrients in the bean.
The effort involved in soaking and long cooking your beans is minimal, it’s the waiting time that requires planning ahead that needs to get embraced in order to adapt to this simple healthy process for beans. I won’t even touch a bean if it has not been soaked and long cooked as I know I’ll be in for some discomfort if I do. Please do yourself and your loved ones a favor and learn to properly prepare your nuts and legumes. Here are some basic recipes on how to soak specific nuts and a basic bean recipe.


Crispy Almonds

4 cups almonds, preferably raw (and skinless, optional)
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Mix almonds with salt and filtered water and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander. Spread on a stainless steel baking pan and place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally, until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.

Crispy Cashews

Makes 4 cups

4 cups of ‘raw’ cashews
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Cashews have already undergone some heating, so they are not truly raw when you purchase them. Do not over soak cashews, make sure to only soak for 6 hours in a solution of filtered water and salt. Drain, then spread on a stainless steel baking sheet. Place in a warm oven at 200 degrees for 12 to 24 hours until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.

Crispy Pecans

4 cups pecan halves
2 teaspoons sea salt
filtered water

Mix pecans with salt and filtered water in a bowl and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours, or overnight. Drain in a colander. Spread pecans on a stainless steel baking pan and place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees fahrenheit) for 12 to 24 hours, until completely dry and crispy. Store in an airtight container.


White Beans

(Makes 8-10 cups cooked beans)
2 cups dried organic white beans
2 tablespoons whey (recipe follows) or lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
sea salt
In a large bowl, cover the beans with warm water. Stir in the whey or lemon juice and leave in a warm place for 24 hours. Drain, rinse, place in a large pot and add water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil and skim off foam. Reduce heat and add the garlic. Simmer, covered for 4-8 hours. Check occasionally for doneness and add more water if needed. Additionally, you could cook the beans in chicken stock instead of water to add more nutrients to your beans. Season to taste. I make this large batch up and then freeze in 1 or 2 cup portions to use in recipes.

For more reading on this subject, check out the following article from the Weston A. Price Foundation;

Preparing Grains, Nuts, Seeds and Beans for Maximum Nutrition

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LydiaLydia Joy Shatney is a certified Nutritional Therapist Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is the chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health From The Inside Out in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. Sign up for the Divine Health From The Inside Out newsletter! Pick up a copy of Lydia’s eBook; ‘Divine Dinners: Gluten-Free, Nourishing, Family-Friendly Meals’.

Lydia offers specialized step by step counseling to transform your health. Personalized consultations to suit your specific needs are offered via phone or in person. Lydia offers a variety of packages offered to suit your individual needs. Contact Lydia today to get started as well as to learn more about what she has to offer you!



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie B October 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Great read! However, I am still a bit confused on this topic. I currently have soaked, sprouted, and dehydrated chick peas. Next step is to grind them into flour and before I cook with them I need to soak again? Same goes with almonds that I need to process.

Thanks, Angie


Jenny January 20, 2011 at 4:37 am

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