I don’t tend to snack. Three square meals, spaced through the day, are usually enough to keep me going. Usually. There are times, however, when I find myself opening the fridge door and cupboards in the vain hope that something snack worthy will leap out at me and banish that niggling desire to eat something, anything. This is why I don’t keep processed snack foods in the house. It’s for my own protection. If I have kale pesto or spinach dip in the fridge, then the snack monster can be tamed with a few sourdough crackers. Of late, a jar of salty toasted nuts, like these crispy tamari almonds, have also done the trick.
Nuts are an extremely good source of valuable fats, vitamins and minerals, but they also contain anti-nutrients such as lectins, phytates and enzyme inhibitors. These anti-nutrients prevent the nuts from germinating until conditions are suitable, and their presence is the reason some people find nuts difficult to digest. Anti-nutrients can be eliminated either by activating or toasting the nuts prior to eating, making the nuts easier to digest.
Small packets of activated nuts are beginning to appear on health food and supermarket shelves. From the asking price, you would be forgiven for thinking that they can only be prepared by the light of the full moon with a sprinkle of powdered unicorn horn. They are expensive. Luckily activated nuts are easy to make at home for a fraction of the price.
To activate your own nuts, place 1 cup in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of salt and just enough water to cover the nuts. Stir to dissolve the salt then allow to sit for a minimum of 4 hours. I usually allow mine to sit overnight. It is this soak in salty water which tricks the kernel into thinking that conditions are suitable for germination and eliminates the anti-nutrients. Drain the nuts and rinse them thoroughly to remove the salt. Dehydrate them until they are crispy. If you don’t have a dehydrator, dry the nuts in a low oven (no more than 100C). The only nut I haven’t had any success activating is cashews. These just turn slimy and aren’t worth the effort. Make kale chips instead if you don’t want to soak cashews.
Toasting the nuts without prior soaking also reduces the heat sensitive anti-nutrients, but will denature some of the more sensitive fatty acids such Omega-3. I usually toast nuts for around 15 minutes at about 140C. I find I have better control with lower heat/longer time. There have been disasters when I have tried to hurry the process. Even chickens don’t fancy burnt nuts.
I have both dehydrated and toasted these almonds. My preferred method is to activate the almonds and then toast them. They seem slightly sweeter to me, but Mr Grumpy doesn’t notice any difference. Do whatever works for you. A warning though, they are quite moreish. You might need to make a double batch, just in case.
P.S. Looking for more great snacks? Why not try some “Cheesy” Vegan Kale Chips or Chocolate Popcorn.