Most nuts are excellent sources of healthy fats and also a great addition to a nutrient dense diet when eaten in moderation. The best way to consume nuts is 100% raw and plain. Toasted or roasted nuts taste fabulous and on occasion are fine to eat but it’s important to understand that you are eating fats which have been altered when they are roasted. The fat in nuts becomes oxidized to some degree after heating. Nuts can also go rancid along with different nut oils when not properly stored. Refrigeration helps to slow this process down.
Nuts can vary in their content of healthy and unhealthy fats. Almonds tend to be lower in unhealthy fats along with filberts and hazelnuts. Peanuts (which are actually legumes), walnuts, pecans, and others are higher in fat. Coconut is very high in fat. Another choice that’s lower in fat and higher in protein is soy nuts (also a legume) which are also called edamame (soybeans) when eaten raw. You can also get them dry roasted and sprinkle them on salads.
Adding nuts to salads is just one way to add some essential fatty acids (EFAs) to your diet. Pine nuts are always an excellent and delicious choice for adding on top of a salad. It is amazing how much tastier cooked and raw veggies become with a few nuts added to them. For meats, you can use crushed nuts and coat the meat with them for a crunchier dish. Fish is especially good when nuts are added, such as pistachios. Seeds combined with nuts are also a great blend.
Almonds or peanuts are excellent with chopped apple or celery or when they are both combined into a Waldorf salad. Add some crumbled boiled eggs and a dark green veggie and you have a complete meal. Remember that peanuts are actually legumes and not nuts!
Oatmeal, yogurt and cottage cheese are also complimented well when you add some chopped nuts to them. To give it a tad of sweetness, you can also add dried cranberries, blueberries or raisins.
Some of the important nutrients you will find in nuts include vitamin E, protein, vitamins, minerals, and calcium. You can purchase nuts in bulk from larger grocery stores like Whole Foods which helps to cut down on the cost because some nuts run higher in price than others and most are on the spendy side.
Organic is the best way to go and you may even be able to go nut picking if your local area has nut trees. Depending on where you live you can also plant these trees and after a few years have your own stock of healthy nuts. Hazelnut trees are not very hard to grow and have little to no maintenance. However, these trees will attract animals to your home so you must be critter friendly or you shouldn’t plant them. Squirrels, raccoons, skunks and various birds will come quickly to enjoy the new nuts in your yard!
To get some nice natural nut butters or nut butter mixes, you can blend your own nuts with a food processor. You actually do not need anything else, just the nuts! Some like to add salt or some oil to smooth out the process but to keep things natural I recommend using only the nuts to keep it plain, simple and also retain the healthy qualities.
When you find yourself hungry and want something to snack on, a handful of nuts is all you need to satisfy those hunger pangs and help you stay on track with your healthy diet.