Why Soak Nuts and Seeds?

Nuts and seeds are full of nutrients and are a great way of adding substance to a vegetarian or vegan meal. They can be sprinkled on a salad, used to make sauces or cheeses and have an important role in raw desserts. With so much versatility and goodness, nuts and seeds also contain substances that interfere with the body’s ability to digest them and absorption of nutrients.

Think about it. The nuts and seeds are the potential offspring of the mother plant and in order for the plants to continue to reproduce, these nuts and seeds need to be protected. We are not the only creatures that consume nuts and seeds. So Mother Nature has ‘coated’ the nuts and seeds in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. What are these substance? Well the phytic acid helps protect the nuts and seeds until there are proper growing conditions present which allows germinating to occur. To ensure the nuts and seeds do not sprout before the conditions are suitable, the enzyme inhibitors prevent this from happening. However the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid can cause problems in the digestive tract by either causing irritation or binding with minerals to prevent their absorption.

Soaking nuts and seeds, with a little salt, my preference is celtic sea salt, helps reduce these substance. If you then want crunchy nuts and seeds to snack on or use, then drying at a low temperature will achieve this. I dehydrate my nuts and seeds over night for about 12 – 16 hours at 46degrees in my dehydrator. This also means the nuts and seeds are still classed as raw as they have not been heated over 46 degrees.

The time for soaking, varies depending on the nut or seed. Cashews are 4-6 hours, while almonds are 12 hours. I tend to soak everything over night for the sake of simplicity.

Soaking nuts and seeds

  • 1 cup of required nut or seed
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tsp of celtic sea salt

Directions:

  • Place nuts or seeds in a glass jar and cover with the water. Add the salt and ensure the slat dissolves.
  • Ensure the nuts or seeds are completely covered. They will swell during the soaking time
  • Leave covered on the kitchen bench for at least 6 hours. I leave mine overnight.
  • Drain and rinse the nuts or seeds under fresh running water.
  • If dehydrating place on a mesh tray and dehydrate for 12 – 16 hours at 46 degrees. To confirm they are dry taste one and check for crunch. If using an oven, set the oven on the lowest temperature and dry for up to 24 hours. Continue to monitor the nuts and seeds
  • Let cool and then store i an air tight container.

What is your favourite nut or seed?

The Wheel of Life

There is warmth in the air today. Yesterday I was very excited to see the first buds on one of our trees. Mother Earth is starting to awaken from her winter slumber. In the last few days I have started thinking about cleansing. Cleaning up the ‘diet’ and also cleansing the house. With the lengthening of the days, warmth returning to the air and Spring just round the corner this is the perfect time to embrace this energy.

A while ago I was introduced to the Wheel of Life, a way of observing, connecting and living within the cyclic nature of Mother Earth and the seasons. There are four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn)  and celebrations that relate to the position of the sun:

  • Winter Solstice, 20 – 23rd June (Southern Hemisphere) and 20 – 23rd Dec (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Winter with the longest night and the shortest day. A time of reflection, gathering in and stillness.

  • Spring Equinox, 20 – 23rd Sept (Southern Hemisphere) and 23 – 23rd Mar (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Spring, where the day and night are of equal length. New beginnings, gestation and possibilities.
  • Summer Solstice 20 – 23rd Dec (Southern Hemisphere) and 20 – 23rd June (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Summer with the longest day and the shortest night. A time of great activity, movement and being outside.
  • Autumn Equinox, 20 – 23rd Mar (Southern Hemisphere) and 23 – 23rd Sept (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Autumn, where once again the day and night are of equal length. Gratitude for all that we have, bringing the family together and acknowledging the seasons that has been are all part of this time of year.
There are also four cross quarter days which are celebrated as part of the agricultural calendar.
  • Imbolc, end of July/beginning of Aug (Southern Hemisphere) and end of Jan/beginning of Feb (Northern Hemisphere), half way point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and marks the first signs of Spring. The long Winter is finally coming to an end, hope is in the air.
  • Beltane, end of Oct/beginning of Nov (Southern Hemisphere) and end of April/beginning of May (Northern Hemisphere), half way between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice and is a festival celebrating fertility of the land, nature and animals, including humans…….
  • Lamas, end of Jan/beginning of Feb (Southern Hemisphere) and end of July/beginning of Aug (Northern Hemisphere), half way point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox and celebrates the first fruits of the harvest. What we have sewn/planted we now start to reap.
  • Samhain, end of April/beginning of May (Southern Hemisphere) and end of Oct/beginning of Nov (Northern Hemisphere), half way point between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice and is the final harvest festival. It is also the end of the harvest year and the beginning of the new year. Once again the cycle of life continues.
Together there 8 celebrations mark the Wheel of Life. I share this with you as a way of starting to connect more deeply with the cyclic nature of our seasons, Mother Earth and the cyclic nature of our own bodies. If we are able to see the cycles in our own life and realise that with every ending there is a new beginning, and from the beginning there are points along the way that can be celebrated, I think we will find more meaning in our life and find meaning in the challenging times.

There is a wonderful quote from Joseph Campbell “The function of ritual….is to give form to the human life, not in the way of mere surface arrangement, but in depth.” I believe that by recognising the changing of the seasons and celebrating this change, in what ever way feels right for you, we start to bring ritual into our lives.

So for us in the Southern Hemisphere, we are heading towards Imbolc, the first signs of Spring. Which I have seen on the trees. So with this energy of emergence and new beginnings, I am going to be starting an internal cleanse – more green smoothies, cleaner eating and more water. I am also going to start detoxing the house, looking at each room, how do I want that room to feel, to represent and then clearing out anything that does not fit in with this new feel. I’ll be starting with the kitchen as this is the heart of our heart, literally and figuratively. Time to shake of the winter robes and embrace a lightness in Spirit.

Can you feel the stirrings of new beginnings? Are you feeling drawn to cleanse either the house, a room or your body? How will you mark the changing of energies?

Spiced Elderberry Wine

I was scrolling through recipes the other night looking for inspiration. I didn’t have a dish in mind, I was just hoping something would catch my attention. As it is winter here, the few recipes for warm spiced drinks certainly did. I could see myself siting in front of the fire, allowing the dance of the flames to lull me into a relaxed state and slowly sip on my beverage. Inspiration had visited!

IMG_6435

Looking through the pantry, it was then what could go with what to create a warming beverage. My bottle of elderberries seemed to vie for my attention so out they came. I decided to start with them by adding a table spoon and 2 cups of water to a small pan and sitting that on the stove top to gentle heat. As the water began to warm the sweet, spicy scent of the elderberries wafted around the kitchen. With this scent tickling my nostrils I began searching for the remaining ingredients.

Star Anise was the first spice to join the Elderberries. I love the aniseed smell, fresh and inviting. Cinnamon and Clove and two spices I love adding to my spiced creations. It would have to be the powered form of each as I did not have a cinnamon quill or the clove flowers.

My favourite spice essential oil at the moment is doTERRA’s Cassia. Cassia is a cousin of Cinnamon, but is so much softer. When I inhale Cassia it is like a warm blanket being wrapped around me, and I know that I am being held by something bigger than I am. For me, Cassia is warming, nurturing and soft, while Cinnamon is it’s louder cousin. There is nothing understated about Cinnamon. Because Cassia gives me this sense of being nurtured, I added two drops to the simmering mixture.

A drop of doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil was also added to lift the mixture and to give it a bit of zing. The fragrance of this oil is also very warming. Then to add a hint of sweetness 2 teaspoons of coconut syrup was stirred into the deep red liquid. Any liquid sweetener would work if you do not have coconut syrup.

After everything had simmered for a few minutes I turned the heat off and let the spices and essential oils to infuse. I could almost imagine each ingredient dancing with each other and creating the final performance which I would enjoy soon,

Once strained, I sat with the elderberry wine (ok there is no alcohol in it but the colour of the beverage reminded me of spiced wines), inhaled and slowly sipped while watching the flames. I hope you enjoy this beverage.

I was given the flower garland at Sydney’s Vivid festival this year. When I wear it, a lightness of spirit and joy comes over me. This is the energy I like to have when creating so why not wear the flower garland in the kitchen. It will definitely be joining me in the kitchen more now that I have it. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs Elderberries
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tsp coconut syrup, or your favourite sweetener
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder
  • 2 drops doTERRA Cassia Essential Oil
  • 1 drop doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil

Prior Preparation:

  1. Nil

Directions:

  1. Place elderberries and water in a small saucepan and gentle bring to simmer.
  2. Once simmering add remaining ingredients.
  3. Simmer for a minute then turn off the heat and allow the ingredients to infuse with each other. I left mine for about 20 mins.
  4. Strain and then pour back into the saucepan to gentle warm.
  5. Pour into your favourite vessel to enjoy.

You can leave the mixture to infuse for longer.

In vibrant health, Vicki

Cashew Yoghurt

I was first introduced to Cashew Yoghurt in Deb Durrant’s Sweet Online course. This simple and easy to prepare recipe has changed my breakfasts. I definitely have a sweet tooth and enjoy chia see puddings, fruit salad and cashew creams or smoothies for breakfast. However sometimes I wanted something creamy but not the sweetness that usually goes with it. Cashew yoghurt is my answer.
img_6408.jpgIngredients:

  • 2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 4 capsules of acidophilus

Prior Preparation:

  1. Soak cashews in 2 cups of filtered water for 4 hours or over night

Directions:

  1. Drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Blend cashews with 1 cup of filtered water until smooth and creamy.
  3. Open the acidophilus capsules and pour the content into the blender. Blend again to combine the acidophilus with the cashew cream. Discard the capsule cases.
  4. Pour cashew cream into a a yoghurt maker and leave for 5 – 10 hours.

IMG_6407I use an easiyo yoghurt maker. I pour boiling water into the easiyo thermos until it reaches the red shelf. I pour the cashew cream into the easiyo container, screw the lid onto the container and wrap newspaper around it. I then put this container into the thermos and leave for 5 hours. After 5 hours I then replace the original boiled water with new boiling water and again leave for 5 hours. After this second time I will taste the cashew yoghurt. If it still has a cashew taste I will once again replace the boiled water with new boiling water and leave again for 5 – 8 hours.IMG_6308
The acidophilus capsules I use are Solgar non-dairy acidophilus, as these can be used for fermentation. If you do not have Solgar non-dairy acidophilus check with the manufactures that the acidophilus capsules or powder can be used for fermentation.

I have also made the yoghurt with 1 cup of cashews and 1 cup of hazelnuts. The taste of the yoghurt has a hint of hazelnut and is a lot more tangy. I would love to hear what you think of this yoghurt.

In vibrant health, Vicki

Flours used in Raw Desserts

Like any recipes, cooked or not, there can be some ingredients that require preparation prior to making the dish. Having some flours already made and stored in the fridge means that when the urge takes you to make a sweet raw dessert you are able to do this. My three favourite flours that I keep on hand are Almond, Cashew and Oat.

almond flour in a wooden bowl, almondsAlmond Flour

Almond flour is the leftover pulp from making Almond Milk which has been dehydrated at 41C for 12 hours. Once dried it will have clumped together. Either process the dried almond pulp in a food processor or the dry jug of a blender to produce the flour. Sift the flour to remove any lumps and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Any pulp leftover from making nut milk, like hazelnut or brazil nut, can be dehydrated and processed in the same way to produce a flour. The flour will lend a different taste to the dessert being created.

Cashew Flour

Cashew flour is produced by ‘whizzing’ small amounts of cashews in the dry jug of a blender. I use my Vitamix for this. The flour that is produced is then sifted to remove any lumps and the process repeated until the desired amount of cashew flour is reached. The flour is then stored in an air tight container in the fridge. It is important not to over blend the cashews or they will become cashew butter. I also store the left over ‘lumps’ of cashews in the fridge and use them to make cashew milk, cashew cream or the filling in one of my desserts.

Oat flour in old wooden bowlOat Flour

Process rolled oats in either the food processor or dry blender jug until flour consistency. Sift the flour to remove any lumps and store in an air tight container in the fridge. A lot of raw desserts use nuts for either the base and/or the filling. By using oat flour it reduces the amount of nuts used but it also ‘lightens’ the the pastry crusts or biscuits.

Having ingredients on hand in your kitchen is a great way to start setting up your kitchen. If you would like some other ideas of setting up your kitchen please contact me via email. vicki@inspiredchange.com.au

In vibrant health, Vicki