Once you start to accustom yourself with a raw food diet, you will quickly find that a lot of recipes call for nuts and seeds. These are used to substitute common dairy ingredients such as cheese, sour cream or yogurt. Nuts and seeds are also used as a base for dips and spreads, to add texture to salads and other dishes, and to make delicious raw desserts.
When you think about your main ingredients being raw vegetables and fruit, you can imagine that you are not eating a whole lot of calories to keep you full for long. Nuts and seeds provide exactly that: lots of fiber to aid digestion and keep you full, protein (for all of you obsessed with where the protein is coming from when you are not eating meat), and healthy fats for a sharp mind and super smooth skin, hair, and nails. While for the longest time we all thought that nuts would make us fat, they actually contain the good fat we need in order to function properly. So don’t be scared with the amounts of raw nuts you may be eating when eating raw foods!
Here are some of the most commonly used nuts and seeds in raw foods:
Super high in calcium, so a perfect substitute to dairy when looking for strong bones. To make your own additive free almond milk, just blend 1 Tbsp almond butter with 1 cup water for 2 minutes, and done! Very easy and you can make it in smaller portions, so you don’t waste any of that expensive, packaged almond milk.
The curved shape of cashews reminds of our kidneys. And that is exactly what cashew nuts are great for! Kidneys are the center of our innate chi in Chinese medicine - our life energy. Cashews nurture this life energy, so you don’t run out of steam so quickly. Cashews are perfect when you want to add a bit of raw creaminess - like in this delicious raw berry cake.
The queen of nuts for a reason! Palmitoleic acid, usually only found in fish oil, has the ability to speed up your metabolism naturally and actually prevents your body from storing fat. Macadamias are perfect when you want to make desserts more fancy and not use cashew nuts. Nothing beats macadamia nuts in creaminess, sweetness, and dessert flavor.
A tiny nut with huge health impacts! Vitamin A and lutein are major parts of the little structure, and they are responsible for great eye sight. Pine nuts are most commonly known as the main ingredient in pesto, but you can also use them for other kinds of dips and spreads, even for sweet dishes! In raw foods they are also often used to give a fake kind of cheese flavor to dishes.
Extremely rich in zinc, a mineral so important for great skin and a thriving immune system. Most people will know pumpkin seeds from seedy bread rolls, but you can use pumpkin seeds pretty much in any dish. Just sprinkle them raw on top of salads, soups, and stir fries.
Filled with Vitamin E, sunflower seeds help to keep the balance good cholesterol in your blood. When good cholesterol is attacked by radicals, it starts to nibble at your arteries, causing build up and eventually leading to strokes and heart attacks. Vitamin E helps to stop this deteriorating process. Check out the recipe below for a sunflower seed pate unlike anything you have ever tasted before!
What do walnuts remind you of? They look just like our brain - perfect brain food! I love their very distinct, nutty taste and add them often to salads and oatmeal. Next time you make pesto, try using walnuts instead of pine nuts for a different taste sensation!
When using nuts and seeds in raw foods, make sure your nuts are actually raw, not roasted or flavored. The taste of raw nuts may be something you need to get used to at first, but you will soon fall in love with the natural flavor.
Depending on which country you live in, the “raw” nuts you buy may not actually be truly raw, but pasteurized to kill off germs and bacteria. Shop around a little to make sure you are buying real raw nuts.
Next step is to start thinking about soaking your raw nuts. This helps to deactivate enzyme inhibitors. What are these, you may ask? Naturally, nuts have these compounds which keep the nuts from sprouting too quickly in nature. We can’t have all nuts sprouting all the time, because sometimes the weather conditions are not perfect for a new nut tree to grow. If they were sprouting all the time, nature would be wasting a lot of nuts. Instead, enzyme inhibitors help to keep nuts “fresh” until proper growing conditions are achieved. Only if it rains and the nuts soak up the water at the right temperature, do they start to sprout. This helps them to release all the nutrients from inside the nuts, which then leads to them growing into a new tree. The same principles apply in your kitchen. If you soak the nuts, they will open up and the nutrients are much more accessible for your body to use. The enzyme inhibitors would otherwise kee