Having healthy, delicious food on hand makes it easy to pack and go on your next outing, whether a single day or multiday adventure. One snack that I have always enjoyed is nut butter, since it is easy to eat on the move. I’ve also eaten my fair share of GORP, but sometimes find it hard on my digestive system. You can only eat so many peanuts before your stomach wants to call it quits.
One tactic that significantly improves the digestibility of nuts is to sprout them. This involves nothing more than taking the dry nuts you have on hand and soaking them. By simply soaking nuts or seeds overnight in water, and then lightly drying them to remove moisture, you can dramatically impact how easily your body can digest and assimilate the calories from these trail snacks.
Nuts contain a lot of phytic acid, which binds to minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, and manganese in the gastrointestinal tract. Soaking, sprouting, or fermentation minimizes this effect. If with dried nuts are a staple of your trail diet, you’re actually not getting the full health benefits of an otherwise healthy (and very popular) trail snack. According to my nutrition guru, Mark Sisson of the Primal Blueprint, bound minerals generally cannot be absorbed in the intestine. Too many bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies, which is not great for your overall health and performance.
Additionally, soaked and sprouted nuts are a great source of plant-based enzymes. By liberating the naturally occurring enzymes in nuts, you can help boost your digestion and assimilation of nutrients in these foods. The simple step of soaking and sprouting makes these foods more easily digestible, and more nutritious simultaneously.
What To Do with Soaked & Sprouted Nuts
Anywhere you would use nuts, be sure to incorporate soaked, sprouted nuts and seeds for improved digestion and nutrition.
1) Grind them into nut butters, like in the recipes listed below.
2) Add them in with dried fruits, dark chocolate or coconut flakes to make your own trail mix.
3) Eat raw, soaked and dehydrated nuts/seeds with a meal to provide digestive enzymes that help the body digest that meal.
4) Sprinkle them chopped on a salad.
Sprouted Nut Recipes
The process of soaking and sprouting nuts is easy. Try any of the variations below to begin experimenting. I think you will be pleased with the results!
Spiced Raw Pecans & Walnuts
Soak 4 cups pecans or walnuts in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons (tsp) sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Drain, rinse and toss with 4 tablespoons (tbsp) of raw sugar, 2 tablespoons (tbsp) cinnamon and a few pinches of sea salt. Dehydrate at 115 for 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Soak 4 cups almonds in warm water with 1 tbsp sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Rinse, place in dehydrator, sprinkle with salt (or other spices) and dehydrate at 115 for 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Soak 4 cups raw peanuts in warm water with 1 tbsp sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Drain, rinse, and toss with sea salt. Dehydrate at 115 for 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Raw Chili Pumpkin Seeds
Soak 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds in warm water with 1 tbsp sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Drain and rinse. Sprinkle liberally with salt and chili powder before placing in dehydrator. Dehydrate at 115 for 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Raw Sunflower Seeds
Soak 4 cups sunflower seeds in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons sea salt for 7 hours. Dehydrate at 115 for 24 hours, turning occasionally.
If you do not have a dehydrator, you can simply set your oven to the lowest temperature, and place the nuts on a baking sheet. Keep the door on your oven slightly propped open for more airflow and to keep the temperature low.
Homemade Nut Butters
I recently made these two variations of nut butter at home, and can’t wait to have these tucked in my pack for future trips. Simply spoon the nut butter into small Food Saver bags, and vacuum seal shut to make your own nut butter packets.
Maple Bacon Almond Butter
1½ cups soaked and dehydrated almonds
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 pieces of cooked and crumbled bacon
1) Put your almonds into a food processor along with your salt, maple syrup, vanilla and avocado oil.
2) Process for about 10 – 12 minutes until smooth.
3) Scrape into a bowl and add bacon bits.
4) Mix to blend in the bacon.
5) Keep refrigerated. Alternatively, packing into Food Saver bags in desired portions, and use on cold weather trips.
3 cups (415 g) soaked and dehydrated hazelnuts
2/3 cup (96 g) dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1) Add hazelnuts to a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend on low until a butter is formed about 8-10 minutes total – scraping down sides as needed.
2) In the meantime, heat the chocolate over a double-boiler or in the microwave in 30-second increments. Set aside.
3) Once the hazelnut butter is creamy and smooth, add the melted chocolate, sea salt and vanilla. Blend again until well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt or vanilla if desired.
4) If your nut butter isn’t sweet enough, add more maple syrup to taste.
5) Transfer to a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. Alternatively, portion into Food Saver bags, and vacuum pack for backcountry use.
About the Author:
Heather Kelly is the creator of Heather’s Choice Meals for Adventuring. Inspired by her personal backcountry trips, Heather strives to create healthy, delicious meals and snacks for folks headed out on epic adventures. You can order her meals and snacks online at heatherschoice.com and use the coupon code JOMH to save 10% off your next order.