Activating: Why squirrels do it and why we should too
Whatever dietary department you sit in, nuts and seeds are friendly allies to a healthy human diet — especially a plant-based one. They bring in all the healthy fats, proteins and fibres. But they also contain a few nasties that if consumed in excess, can be detrimental to our bodies.
When the activation trend popped up, many of us laughed and resumed eating our regular nuts. However activating has been around far longer than the last few years.
Did you know squirrels bury about 60% of the acorns they collect? After winter, when the rain and snow have washed away the phytates and enzyme inhibitors on the nuts (we’ll get to that later), the squirrels use their memory maps to re-collect their acorns. The Native Americans observed the squirrels and were next on the scene to activate. They found a more effective way: overnight soaking. Then there was the Aztecs who soaked pumpkin seeds in seawater before sun-drying them. So turns out, it’s not such a new fad after all.
We call ourselves ‘Kitz Living Foods’ for a reason. For starters, we use ingredients that are alive and we create products which are sure to make our customers feel good. We get your normal, organic nuts and seeds and liven them up by giving them a nice overnight bath in filtered water. The next morning we rinse them off and put them in a warm dehydrator to make them nice and crispy.
But what is this whole activation business? Is it really necessary and worth the extra time or buck? And what even are phytates and enzyme inhibitors?
WELL. Allow me to explain.
When nuts and seeds are growing in the ground, they have built-in protective measures in place for their own benefit. When levels of light, oxygen, temperature and nutrients are right, their natural process of germination and sprouting kicks into action. But if their natural environment gets flooded with rainwater, the nuts and seeds have a clever little defense system to prevent premature germination and sprouting. That’s when the phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors come onto the scene. They help to protect the nuts and seeds, but they’re not so beneficial for us.
When the phytic acids are around, we miss out on quality time with our companions: zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium. But when we give our nuts and seeds a nice long soak, we decrease the number of phytates in the seeds and our bodies can absorb all the nutrients. Phytic acid can also overwhelm our digestive system and make us feel bloated and nauseous. If you’ve ever eaten a copious amount of nuts at once, you may know what I’m talking about — that unsettling, heavy feeling in your stomach.
Enzyme inhibitors don’t have a great reputation either. They basically act as a safety guard for the nuts which prevent them from going bad or rotting. The problem for us is that they make digestion harder and slower. They force the body to work extra hard to produce the right substances for our bodies to break down.
Put simply, phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors play a toll on our bodies. They stop us from getting all the wonderful nutrients nuts and seeds have to offer.
The good news is, we can fix this!
See, when we soak our nuts and seeds we trick them into thinking they are safe in the ground and their germination process begins. As they soak, the phytic acids and enzyme inhibitors are almost entirely removed. We welcome back all those minerals and nutrients we almost lost. The zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium are now readily available for our bodies to take in.
When soaked, the nuts and seeds can be eaten straight away, though they’ll only last a few days. But at Kitz, we place them in the dehydrator at a low heat of 47 degrees( which means they are still classified as RAW). This means you can keep them in your pantry for months on end without them going bad. And don’t worry, dehydrating them keeps all their nutrients intact. It also gives them a real nice crunch.
As for their flavour — ooh, ooh! You’re in for a treat. Activating and dehydrating gets rid of that bitter flavour you find with some nuts and seeds. They taste like they’ve been roasted, but you can rest assured knowing all their goodness is still intact.
So you ask, is it worth it? It seems so. Especially when we do all the hard work for you ;)