Friday, July 21st, 2017

Go Nuts for Nuts.. But, Which Ones?

Published on August 31, 2012 by   ·   5 Comments Pin It
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Anyone who knows me can attest that I am absolutely crazy about nuts! Not only are they an ideal plant-based protein source but they are also bursting with healthy fats and other vital nutrients that will keep you powered up and your cravings at bay!

If you lead an extremely busy, stress-filled life, are an athlete, or are just trying to lose weight, nuts are something I would highly recommend that you add to your diet.

While some people may have a problem digesting nuts (you will know if you get very bloated and heavy feeling after eating them,) most people do not. Due to the fact that nuts such as almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor  that make it difficult for us to digest them (think of it as natures way of making sure that the seed has a higher chance of becoming a tree), it is helpful for us to first pre-soak the nuts before we eat them.

How do you soak your nuts?

So easy! When you buy your nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts) put them in a bowl of purified water for 4-6 hours then rinse dirty water off and place in a collander to drain. Basically, not only are you getting rid of the enzyme inhibitors but you are also starting the sprouting process with the nuts, which will increase the nuts’ nutritional value. Once you soak your nuts and see what comes off you will never want to eat them before pre-soaking again!

Here are my favorite nuts (in order!):

Almonds

Not only are almonds high in vitamin E, which has been proven to prevent cellular damage responsible for stress (think aging!) and reduce the risk of heart disease, but they also are a source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folic acid and fiber. Almonds are also high in antioxidants and are low in saturated fats. One ounce of almonds (20-25 almonds) represents 12% of your daily allowance of protein, 35% of your daily allowance of vitamin E and as much calcium as a glass of milk! One important caveat, though. Almonds contain phytoestrogens so if you are a cancer patient or have cancer in your family, talk to your doctor first before adding them into your diet.

How do I eat them?

Use almond milk instead of regular milk over your cereal in the morning or in your smoothies. Use almond butter instead of peanut butter on your toast in the morning. Toast almonds and serve ontop of steamed broccoli or asparagus, or just carry a baggie of almonds with you for an easy afternoon snack on the go!

Brazil nuts

Not only are brazil nuts high in iron, zinc, magnesium, but they are also an excellent source of selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects us against aging by improving cell quality and elasticity, stimulating our immune system and helping fight off heart disease and some forms of cancer. Brazil nuts have 2500 times as much selenium as any other nut! Another bonus is that brazil nuts do not contain phytoestrogens like almonds. For most of us, we need not worry about this but for cancer patients or those at risk who have been told to avoid them, brazil nut butter may be a better option.

How do I eat them? 

Have brazil nut butter on your toast in the morning or add a dollop on top of your yogurt. Add whole brazil nuts or brazil nut butter to your smoothies. Chop up brazil nuts and add them to your pancakes or sprinkle on top of a salad for a crunchy addition!

Walnuts

Walnuts are another one of my favorite nuts. Not only are walnuts high in Omega 3’s (1/4 cup= 90% of our daily requirement) and protein (with 26% more protein than that of an egg!), but they also contain potassium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamins B & E, folate and beta-carotene.

How do I eat them?

My favorite way to eat walnuts is on top of salads! Walnuts are also a delicious addition to breads, pancakes and even chopped up on top of oatmeal or cereal. Sometimes as an alternative to a straight-forward pesto, I will use walnuts instead of pine nuts in my pesto recipe- delicious!

Pecans

Pecans are great because they have such as sweet flavor that you almost feel like you are eat dessert! Like walnuts, pecans are not only a good plant-based protein source, but they are also high in magnesium, phosophorus, potassium, vitamins A & E, folic acid and zinc.

How do I eat them?

I love to add pecans to salad- particularly when they contain more acidic flavors such as tomatos that balance the sweet flavor of the pecans. I also love to add pecans to pancakes or crush them up on top of cereals or yogurt. Crushed pecans also make a delicious pie crust!!!

Cashews
While cashews might look like boring white kidney beans, they actually contain a powerful punch of minerals and vitamins. Cashews are not only high in copper, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and iron  but they also contain potassium, selenium, folate, niacin, thiamin, vitamin C, and calicum.  
 
How do I eat them?
Cashew nuts are on of the most versatile nuts I know and are essential in the kitchen if you are trying to cut back on your dairy consumption. Believe it or not, but you can use cashew nuts in lieu of creams to make rich puddings, pasta sauces and even dessert puddings! I make a killer chocolate pudding with them as well as a decadent pumpkin ‘cream’ gnocchi.

raw pudding

Chocolate Cashew Cream Pudding

  • 2 cups of cashews (preferably pre-soaked for 4-6 hours and rinsed)
  • 1½ tbsp unsweetened chocolate powder
  • ¼- ½ cup agave nectar
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Optional: maca powder or Sun Warrior Chocolate protein powder

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Slowly add just a bit of water or coconut water until you reach your desired consistency. For rich, thick pudding try to add as little as possible. Note, though, that the pudding will thicken once placed in the fridge. My kids adore this pudding and it makes a nice, healthy treat or dessert that we all can enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Cream Pasta

  • Pasta (I use Tinkyada gluten-free rice pasta) or gnocci
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups cashews (preferably pre-soaked for 4-6 hours)
  • 1 cup vegan bouillon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 diced onion
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (or other white wine vinegar)
  • Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice (if you have it)
  • Chopped sage (or can use canned spice if don’t have fresh)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Cook your pasta according to the package instructions while doing the following:

Place the cashews into a blender slowly adding water and blend until smooth and creamy.

In a separate skillet, place some olive oil, diced onions and garlic and sautee. Add bouillon, white wine and cashew cream sauce to skillet along with additional spices, and stir until thickens.

Add sauce on top of pasta or gnocci, decorate with sage and enjoy!

Via diet and lifestyle coach (yes, she sees private clients,) writer, raw food chef, GirlieGirl Army Blogger,  and teacher Katherine Pennington at Be in Balance.  We love reading her blog Raw Mom and Hot Dog Kids for tips on how to raise healthy kids in a very unhealthy world.

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Readers Comments (5)

  1. Charlotte says:

    Delicious and smart tips – thanks GGA!!

  2. Ionia DunnLee Cisse says:

    Love your nut tips Charlotte.
    Thank you for the wisdom.
    Kind Regards,
    Ionia

  3. ben says:

    useful info. thanks. a question and a comment. can you elaborate a little on what you do to the nuts after the soak/rinse? ie, refrigerate? how long do they last after soaking? re-dry? you mention toasting. soak first, then toast? thanks! also, the pasta recipe neglects to mention when to add the pumpkin.

  4. Katherine Pennington says:

    You should always use raw nuts when you can since roasting them will deplete them of some of their nutrients. Soaking and sprouting the nuts will increase the nutritional value as well as make the nuts more digestible since you are literally starting the digestive process.




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