Updated: Apr 5, 2020
Nuts are a staple food in my daily diet. I eat all kinds, and try to vary them frequently.
Every four to six weeks, my kitchen looks a bit like a nut factory.
Why roast nuts at home?
If I can, I prefer to buy natural, unroasted nuts and roast them at home rather than buy roasted varieties. Mass produced roasted nuts are often roasted in poor quality oils and coated in inferior salts, and sometimes added sugar and artificial flavours. If you prepare them at home, you can have all of the nutritional value of nuts and none of the unhealthy extras. And if you want to spice things up (literally), you can decide exactly what you add to them.
Why do I soak nuts first?
Nuts contain natural chemicals called enzyme inhibitors that stop them from sprouting until the conditions are right for them to grow (cool huh?), which actually prevents your body from being able to digest and absorb all the nutrients they provide. 'Activating' nuts is a traditional form of preparation that breaks down enzyme inhibitors and makes the nutrients available for absorption.
I always soak and roast almonds and walnuts because I notice that I seem to digest them better this way (I roast some other nuts and seeds too, like pecans and pepitas). Raw almonds or walnuts tend to upset my stomach. Plus, they just taste so much better - especially the walnuts.
I usually eat a handful of nuts at breakfast for a decent dose of healthy fats to start my day.
Cinnamon and nutmeg roast walnuts
Out of all of my recipes, this one is my favourite. Spiced and roast walnuts check all the boxes - it's simple, healthy and delicious. Add a handful to your breakfast, chop and add to a salad or keep on hand in your bag for an easy snack
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 to 12 hours +
750 grams raw walnuts, shelled
Pinch of whole fresh nutmeg, grated (or ground nutmeg)
Pinch of cinnamon
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Soak nuts in salted water for 8 to 10 hours. The water should be at room temperature and the amount should cover the nuts.
Drain and use a tea towel to dry.
Preheat the oven to 65 degrees Celsius (base heat and no fan works best).
Distribute nuts evenly on a oven proof tray.
Season with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Drizzle olive oil over the nuts (not too much, you want them to crisp up).
Use a heat resistant basting brush to distribute the oil evenly. This will spread the spices and salt over the nuts.
Roast in a warm oven (no more than 65 degrees Celsius) for 12 hours or more until completely dry and crisp.
Soak the nuts overnight, prepare them first thing in the morning and have them cook all day. The house will smell fantastic.
For roast almonds, I dry roast (ie, no oils) and just add rock salt.
If you notice that the nuts are a bit soft a day or so later, this tells you that the nuts are not completely dehydrated. When this happens to me, I put the nuts back in the oven for a couple of hours or more on a low heat to dry them out.
Walnuts contain some hard-to-find antioxidants and a healthy dose of plant-based omega-3 fats (alpha linolenic acid). This form of omega-3 is part of a balanced diet, but it isn't a substitute for fish (which contains different forms of omega-3 fats). However, alpha linolenic acid does have anti-inflammatory properties and is linked to enhanced cognition.