Five Ways to Enjoy Nuts and Seeds
Have you been avoiding nuts and seeds for fear of their high fat content?
If you have, you are not alone. In recent years, our country has been bombarded with nutrition messages warning against the dangers of eating too much fat.
Of course, eating too much of the wrong kinds of fat (saturated fat and hydrogenated fats, which are found in red meats and processed junk foods) can be detrimental to health.
But, unfortunately, when it comes to dietary fat, many of us have thrown the "baby out with the bath water," so to speak. And, now, many people try to avoid all sources of dietary fat, including the essential fats our bodies need for health, which are found in foods like nuts, seeds, and cold water fish, such as salmon.
The fats found in nuts and seeds, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are vital to the health of our brains, immune and cardiovascular systems, skin and hair. In addition to supplying essential fatty acids and healthy monounsaturated fats, nuts are rich in protein, fiber and important trace minerals. If you've been leaving nuts out of your favorite dishes, it's time to take a new look at these nutrient powerhouses.
Here are a few quick ways to include various nuts and seeds in your diet.
- Flaxseeds are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, one of the key omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds are small and very hard, so when eaten whole they sometimes escape digestion. As a result, they are best when eaten ground. Flaxseeds can be purchased pre-ground in vacuum packed containers; just store in your refrigerator or freezer once opened. Or you can easily grind whole flaxseeds in a small coffee grinder. For nutty flavor, add a tablespoon to hot or cold cereal, any bread, cookie or muffin recipe, fruit smoothies; use as a topping for yogurt, soups or salads; or mix into any dip or salad dressing.
- Make your own nut and seed mix by lightly toasting almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in a 160-170 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. For extra flavor, toss before baking with tamari (soy sauce)or tamari and your favorite spices. Cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper make a delicious combination.
- All types of nuts and seeds make a delicious addition to any green or fruit salad.
- Finely chop almonds and walnuts and add them to your favorite soup.
- Did you know that there are delicious alternatives to peanut butter? Give almond butter, cashew butter, and pumpkin seed butter a try. For a delicious snack or lunch box treat, spread any type of nut butter on toast and drizzle with a little honey, or use them to stuff celery.
For more ideas and information, please see the articles on almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds in our foods database.