Why your walnuts, of course, what on earth did you think I meant?
Did you ever eat a handful of walnuts or a few tablespoons of peanut butter then wonder why you feel like you just choked down a brick? It’s because nuts that have not been soaked contain enzyme inhibitors that can cause uncomfortable digestion. Improperly prepared nuts are very difficult to digest without depleting your store of digestive enzymes, making it difficult for you to gather any nutrients from the nuts in addition to making them just plain hard to digest. Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E. Nuts in general are also high in plant sterols and fat – but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (Omega-3 fatty acids – the good fats) that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Walnuts, in particular, have significantly higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids compared to other nuts. To make the awesome storehouse of nutrients in nuts available to you, you can soak and sprout them or follow this recipe. Full disclosure: I generally purchase nuts that I know are already properly prepared. But if I had an opportunity, for example, to buy a couple pounds of raw shelled pecans right from the grower I would take them home and prepare them this way.
When I first read about this process in Nourishing Traditions I thought it was a bit over the top. Then when I actually tried it and compared it to the raw or roasted nuts or nut butters that I had been eating I was convinced that it really does make a difference. Those of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time may have noticed I have somewhat of an obsession with traditional foods and their preparation. This book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon (Sally Fallon of Weston A Price Foundation fame – yes, the raw milk guy) is sort of a combination cookbook/bible/encyclopedia for the traditional foodie set. A bit over the top “Herself,” it’s nevertheless worth a read if you are at all interested in the topic. She does an especially good job with traditional food preparation techniques such as fermenting, curing, soaking, etc.
Soaked & Dehydrated Nuts from Nourishing Traditions
Pecans or Walnuts
- 4 cups of nuts
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- enough filtered water to cover
- Combine nuts, water to cover and sea salt. Soak for 7 or more hours (I did mine overnight).
- Drain and dehydrate in a 150 degree oven 12-24 hours, until completely dry and crisp.
OK then what do you do with all these nuts pray tell? This was the problem I faced last weekend …. walnuts out the wazoo, and they go rancid fast (which is why you should always refrigerate or freeze them BTW). So I cobbled together a walnut raisin pie that turned out to be truly spectacular, and just the thing with a glass or two of first vine’s Champagne Bernard Mante Extra-Brut ($35). Its slight acidity and bubbles allow it to really balance out the sweetness and richness of this pie. First Vine is the first U.S. importer of Bernard Mante champagnes. Champagne is made from three different grapes, the Pinot Meunier, which gives fruitiness, Pinot Noir, providing the body and structure, and Chardonnay for elegance and finesse. Most champagnes are a blend of these grapes to varying extents. The Extra-Brut is drier and less fruity and floral than the Brut, so it has extra elegance and even a bit of earthiness.
You could even bake it in a heart shaped pan, throw on your Snoa lingerie, and call it Valentine’s Day.
Crispy Walnut & Raisin Pie
1 9″ pie crust (from your favorite recipe or even from Pillsbury if you must, but don’t tell us)
1 cup crispy walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup raisins
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
5 TBSP melted butter
1 TSP vanilla extract
Approx 1/4 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375
Whisk until blended: eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, salt and spices. Stir in nuts and raisins.
Meanwhile, Warm the pie crust in the oven until it’s hot to the touch. Pour in filling. Bake until the edges are firm, but the center seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when the pan is nudged. Approx 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least an hour and a half.
Top with whipped cream or ice cream if you must , but I prefer something more tart – creme fraiche or a spoonful of Greek-style yogurt. It’s a sweet, rich pie and the balance helps