Soakin’ and sproutin’; the ‘parfait’ raw dessert!
By Joel MacKenzie, Staff Writer
Two common practices in the raw food diet are soaking and sprouting nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.
Two prominent types of molecules which make these raw foods hard to digest are enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. Enzyme inhibitors, naturally, decrease enzymes’ activity, to protect the plants until they are ready to grow. Simply put, they are not easily digested (for instance, they can cause indigestion and gas). Phytic acid is a storage form of phosphorus in plant tissues. It binds to minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc, keeping them from being easily digested in our bodies.
Water signals these raw plants to break down or neutralize enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid so they are ready to grow. With less of them, the food is more easily digested and the minerals in them are more easily absorbed. (It is important to note that some argue that the amount of phytic acid reduced from soaking is not significant enough to have a major effect in our bodies).
Sprouting enthusiasts argue that when the seed has sprouted, it contains even more vitamins, phytochemicals, minerals, amino acids, and proteins, as the seed is preparing to become a plant.
Soaking simply involves storing the nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes in water for different lengths of time, depending on the type (overnight is standard).
There are several different sprouting methods. One easy method involves keeping what is to be sprouted in a jar away from sunlight with a breathable material, like cheesecloth, attached to the top. They are occasionally washed to be kept damp, but not wet. They are ready when the root is roughly the same size as the food itself. Sprouting times vary with different plants; lists of times and lists of ones suitable for sprouting can be found online.
Raw Fruit, Nut, and Cashew Cream Parfaits
My experience this month of searching blogs and websites for raw food recipes has been awesome. I’ve learned tons of crazy substitutions for standard foods (like “spaghetti” noodles made from zucchini, and plant-based replacements for cheese), regular recipes involving crazy flavour combinations (like sweet potato smoothies!), and, of course, incredibly delicious dessert recipes that do not involve any cream, sugar, or ingredients that can only be pronounced one syllable at a time. I even feel drawn much more often to the wholesomeness of raw foods over their cooked counterparts.
This last recipe in College Cooking’s raw vegan dessert month comes from Tess Masters at healthyblenderrecipes.com. It’s a parfait made with cashew cream instead of yogurt, and loads of raw nuts and berries. If you feel so inclined, try soaking or sprouting the nuts and seeds! And this time of the year, try using seasonal fruit grown locally, like blackberries and chopped apples!
1 cup raw cashews (preferably soaked for 2 hours)
1/4-1/2 cup filtered water
1-2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
A pinch Celtic sea salt
Nuts and fruit:
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw linseeds/flaxseeds
A handful each of raspberries and blueberries
1. Blend all cashew cream ingredients until smooth.
2. Chop nuts and seeds briefly in a food processor, keeping them chunky.
3. Spoon in layers in a bowl: one type of berry, nuts and seeds, cream, summ’mo nuts and seeds, and the other type of berry. Be sure to not deviate from this very strict pattern.
4. Observe the simple yet elegant decoration of your creation.
5. Take pictures to show your friends how healthy you are.