“We began as mineral. We emerged into plant life, and into the animal state, and then into being human, and always we have forgotten our former states, except in early spring when we slightly recall being green again”. – Rumi
Living in Ireland, one season merges into the other on a daily basis. As an island we don’t experience the hardship of long bitter winters, nor the scorching heat of endless summer days. Our two most distinct seasons are Spring and Fall and they are my favourites. Spring signals life emerging and blossoming blooms, whilst Fall heralds preparing for hibernation and long deep sleeps. I woke up this morning inspired by the sounds of life emerging as the sun rises on this side of the planet. The birds were chirping merrily outside our window in the boughs of our birch tree and our resident blue tits chipping away metronomically at their eco-loving-seed-ball in their window box feeder. We cover our herb garden rockery with a duvet every night protecting it from the frost and erratic night-time temperatures up here on the hill.
Nature never ceases to amaze me with how she protects herself across the plant, animal and human kingdoms. “In Winter the bare boughs that seem to sleep work covertly, preparing for their Spring.” – Rumi
Being a vegetarian and 95% vegan, nuts have become a daily source of protein and not just something left uneaten at the bottom of my trick or treating bag at Halloween. Like grains, raw nuts contain moderate levels of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid is biologically necessary for the plant, as it helps safeguard the nut or seed until proper growing conditions are present and germination can occur. These enzyme inhibitors prevent the seed from sprouting prematurely, but can cause potential problems in humans by binding to nutrients in the body and contributing to nutrient deficiencies and digestive system irritation.
Soaking nuts in water begins the germination process and neutralises enzyme inhibitors, such as phytic acid which can inhibit absorption of nutrients and also makes the nuts easier for us to digest. Another good reason to soak nuts is to wash away any dust whilst transporting and/or storing and tannins that are associated with some nuts. Soaking should be done at room temperature preferably in filtered water and with a pinch of Himalayan rock salt. It is vital to not over soak, as this can compromise texture, flavour and nutritional value. Not all nuts contain enzyme inhibitors and therefore only need to be rinsed. Remember to rinse the soaked nuts 2-3 times until the water runs clear. In this post I am using soaked almonds for the basis of my pesto for their higher nutritional content and flavour. You can use pine nuts like the original recipe however pine nuts do not need to be soaked only rinsed.
Rockin’ Basil Pesto
- 1 cup fresh organic basil leaves
- ¼ cup organic wild rocket leaves
- ½ cup soaked & drained almonds
- 4 T extra virgin olive oil – cold pressed if possible
- 2 T tahini
- 1 garlic clove crushed (optional)
- ½ t Pink Himalayan rock salt
- 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 T grated organic lemon zest
- Healthy pinch of freshly ground black pepper – I like lots!
- Filtered water if necessary to blend
Soak the almonds overnight or for 8-12 hours in a litre of filtered water and a pinch of pink himalayan rock salt. Rinse well 2-3 times until the water runs clear. No need to peel the almonds. I have a life! Place the almonds in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Next add the remaining ingredients and blend until well combined and smooth. You may need to add a little water to achieve that creamier consistency. Taste and season accordingly. Enjoy with zucchini “spaghetti” noodles and toasted pumpkin seeds. Buon Appetito!