Why to Soak Nuts, Seeds & Grains
I know it has been a while since I last posted here. For the past six months I was participating in a course to get my Natural Foods Chef certification and as of last week I am done and certified. What is a natural foods chef? We use whole foods to enrich the diet, focusing on using as much seasonal, organic, unprocessed and locally grown food as possible.
In the process of taking this course, I also met and started seeing a Naturopath who works mostly with people who have hard to deal with health issues. And, that's me, hard to deal with. I've known for 12 years that I had colitis. But I was also having absorption issues, constant fatigue, and more-and-more food sensitivities (which is a big part of the reason I took this course).
I think I explained in a Sharepost a few months ago the regime of tests the Naturopath had me do - blood, stool, urine, saliva, etc. And the biggest thing we found out is that I do not have the genetic ability to break down dairy products. That's huge because I was a big eater of dairy products. I am not lactose intolerant, which is when you lack the enzyme lactase. No, I can't just take a Lactaid pill and then have a bowl of yogurt or a hunk of cheese. I cannot in any way break down any kind of dairy products - whether it be sheep, cow, or goat.
So, this could be a huge portion of some of my gut issues. The Naturopath is hypothesizing that instead of UC, I probably have MC (microscopic colitis) with what we'll call a severe dairy allergy. And my ingestion of dairy products over my entire life has only served to inflame my colon further.
I have been completely dairy-free for 3 months and am feeling better. Certain symptoms that we couldn't put a cause to have gone away - for example: a constant woozy feeling in my head (like being on a rocking ship); redness in the fingernails; a tremor in my right arm and leg; and, facial acne to name a few.
But, just because I am dairy-free doesn't mean I have to be completely "milk" free. In my course I learned that people with a dairy intolerance can usually drink coconut milk and nut or seed milk (as long as they aren't allergic to coconut, nuts, or seeds, of course). And making these milks is pretty darn easy once you get the hang of soaking and pureeing.
First, buy RAW nuts and seeds, preferably organic. Before you use the nuts to make milk, soak them in fresh, filtered water overnight or during the day while you're at work (8-12 hours is best). By soaking the nut/seed you allow it to release certain undigestible enzymes, called anti-nutrients, which can be the cause of bloating and/or gas in certain individuals.
Drain and rinse the nuts/seeds well. You are now ready to do one of three things with your nuts/seeds -
1. Pat them dry and allow them to sit out for an hour then store them in a canning jar (think Ball, Major, or Kerr) and refrigerate them. They will keep this way for 3-4 days. You can use these soaked nuts to snack on or to make milk from.
2. To make nut/seed milk - add 1 cup soaked nuts or seeds and 3 cups of water to a very good quality blender, preferably a professional series blender or a VitaMix. Process the nuts and water on high for about 2 minutes. Using a nut bag or a paint straining bag you can buy at the hardware store (these are super cheap and work just fine), strain the milk into a pitcher or bowl. Slowly and gently squeeze the milk from the nut pulp. Your nut/seed milk will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator and can be used very much like dairy milk in smoothies, on cereal, in sauces, etc.
As for the nut pulp, if you have a dehydrator, you can use it to make some yummy onion rings. Cut a sweet onion thinly and drizzle with olive oil, mix with hands to coat all onions. In a separate bowl take your nut/seed pulp and mix it with seasonings of your choice - paprika, cayenne, cumin - whatever you like. Then toss the pulp over the onions, mix to coat, and lay on dehydrator racks and dehydrate for 8-10 hours, or until crunchy. You can also do this in your oven on the lowest setting possible for about 4-5 hours.
Your 3rd option of what to do with your soaked nuts or seeds is to dry them. This will allow them to keep longer - 1-2 months in your refrigerator - plus it makes them crunchy and taste nuttier. If you have a dehydrator read your user's manual, but it will usually take 24 hours to fully dehydrate whole nuts. If you don't have a dehydrator you can use your oven set to its lowest setting and prop open the door with a wooden spoon - again for about 24 hrs.
Soaking is also a good thing to do with your legume and grains - beans, lentils, rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa, etc. It has the same effect as soaking nuts and seeds - it releases the anti-nutrients from the legume or grain making them more digestible and cutting down on the cooking time by approximately 15%.
I hope this has been helpful. As all IBDers know, anything that makes digesting food easier is a worthwhile endeavor. While it will take a little time to get used to this new regime, and having to think ahead for the soaking time, I do think you will find, like I did, that the extra effort is truly worth it.