Nuts make great snacks. Their merits are endless. Easy to store, satisfying and crunchy, loaded with protein and healthy fat, vegan/vegetarian/omnivore friendly. Not to mention tasty. And varied. If you get sick of almonds, you can switch to cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts. But a conscious snacker must make a decision. Raw or roasted?

The opinions behind raw and cooked food form distinct divides in health culture. While some preach that the cooking process drains food of its nutritional value, others argue for a more balanced diet, insisting that the body struggles to digest some raw foods. The latter faction claims that raw nuts fall into the hard-to-digest category.

Though high in nutritional value, raw tree nuts contain certain enzyme inhibitors. While these enzymes protect the nuts from sprouting early, they inhibit digestion in the body. Though raw nuts are harmless in small quantities, they can cause an unpleasant heaviness in the stomach if consumed in large quantities. This is where the soaking process comes into play.

I first learned of soaking and slow roasting nuts from my mother. My inclination is towards raw foods, so I was uncertain, skeptical even of the soaking and roasting process. I usually find that uncooked foods are fresh and vibrant, untainted by heat and oilma. But my mom is relentless in her health convictions, so I opened my mind.

When raw nuts soak in warm water, the afore mentioned enzyme inhibitors neutralize, and the body can more easily digest the nuts. After many hours of soaking, the waterlogged nuts need to dry out at a low heat, reclaiming their crunchy appeal. This process isn't a newfound food trend. Aztec peoples used to soak their pumpkin and squash seeds, leaving them out to bake in the sun. The result, regardless of the heat source, is flavor and nourishment. 


My favorite nuts to roast are almonds and walnuts. I know I'm home when I the scent of them roasting perfumes the house. But any tree nut is interchangeable. 

This is Sally Fallon's recipe for Crispy Walnuts:

-4 cups walnuts                                                                                       -2 teaspoons salt                                                                                     -filtered water

porridge, sweet, cereal
Margaret Ann Riley

Combine ingredients in a bowl and set in a warm place for 6 hours. Drain. Spread on baking sheet and place in the oven for 24 hours at 175 degrees F. Let cool then store in an airtight container.

Margaret Ann Riley