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Nuts are much more than a snack; besides their obvious use adding flavor and texture to any dish, nuts are a valuable source of nutrients in their own right. In Western cuisine, nuts are usually treated as a luxury and relegated to confectionery and desserts. Vegetarians know better and give nuts the consideration due to real food. The latest research suggest this is the right approach; a daily serving of nuts is a great way to stay healthy ad live longer.
Contrary to what their high calorie count hints, nuts can even help to control weight as the balanced blend of nutrients they supply prevents cravings. So anyone avoiding nuts for this reason has been missing out on an easy source of health. Providing sugared and salted nuts are avoided, all the calories in nuts are good ones, and their fat is of the kind that prevents heart disease and feeds the mind.
Basic Facts About Nuts
Nuts are protein rich - almonds and peanuts have a higher ratio protein to weight than beef or chicken meat.
Nuts are packed with vitamin and minerals - including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B, C and E. Black walnut are one of the best sources of the oligo-element manganese, as Brazil nuts are of selenium.
Their fatty acid profile has actually shown to decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering the levels of "bad" cholesterol.
Nuts have generally a very low glycemic index and dietitians recommend including nuts in the diets of people with insulin resistance problems.
Six Easy Ways To Enjoy Nuts
For a healthy, nutritious and quick dessert - get cheese and nuts.
Nutritious, healthy and quick snack - grab a handful of plain roasted nuts, alone or mixed with dried fruits, a quick burst of energy without the side effects of a sugar low.
Nutritious, quick lunch - add a handful of toasted nuts to a salad and use a fat free dressing. A nut butter sandwich is perfectly healthy. Try a simple sandwich with almond butter and thinly sliced apple and celery. Extra benefit, the almond, apple, celery combination makes a complete meal.
Nutritious quick meal - add some nuts to any vegetable stir fry.
Healthy, nutritious drink - prepare your favorite smoothie or fruit milk shake adding some ground nuts or nut butter. Try this, add 1 level Tbs nut throw 1 Tbs almond butter, 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced, and some celery, washed and chopped, into the blender with some milk and honey or sugar to taste. Use almond milk and skip the almond butter to make it lighter.
Western cuisine traditional - use nuts in stuffing for meat or poultry, and with cookies, pastries, cakes, ice creams, and fruit salads.
Getting Nuts In Your Diet
Try to incorporate nuts to your diet slowly. Ingesting three pounds of nuts a day is not going to make for years of nut neglect, and we have already mentioned nuts are high in calories, so portion control is in order. A serving of nuts is a handful, about 25 almonds or 10 Brazil nuts, or 1-2 level tablespoon of nut butter.
Nuts are Nature's gift to man, flavorful, healthy, and able to give a recipe the contrast in textures that only professional chefs provide, so don't limit their use to sprinkling a few chopped nuts on ice cream; it is worth to add them to sweet and savory dishes. Enjoy getting nuts!
Utterly Nutty Cooking Tips
The most popular nuts and seeds you would find in any pantry today are almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. Filberts are a kind of hazelnut.
* Mix toasted hazelnuts with double cream cheese, minced garlic and paprika. Spread over crackers.
* For a fragrant oriental dessert add toasted pine kernels to a fruit salad.
* Festive chestnut stuffing - Mix 1 cup chestnut puree, ½ cup bread, no crust, crumbled, 1 egg, 1 minced onion, and the juice and rind of 1 orange. Season and use it to stuff a turkey, duck or a chicken.
* Fried chicken with a nutty twist dip chicken pieces in seasoned egg, beaten, and cover with a mixture of 1 Tbs flour and 1 cup ground pecans. Cook until golden.
* Garnish grilled fish with chopped peanuts fried in butter until golden and lemon wedges.
* Use green pistachio nuts to garnish lemon curd, lemon cheesecake or lemon soufflé.
* Get crunchier burgers by rolling them on lightly salted chopped peanuts; and get also added protein. Recommended proportion ¼ lb peanuts per ½ lb ground meat.
* For a crunchier fruit pie, sprinkle ground nuts on top of the pastry before adding the fruit. The nuts will absorb any liquid from the fruit adding flavor on top.
Nuts are an important source of protein in a vegetarian diet, but they are deficient in the amino acid lysine, so in a vegetarian diet, nuts should be combined with other lysine rich sources of protein, like beans and pulses.
Nut allergy can be very dangerous. Be extremely careful and avoid completely using nuts around people suffering this type of allergy.
Very young children could easily choke on whole nuts and because of the risk of nut allergies, follow the pediatrician's advice on how and when to incorporate nuts to their diet. It follows you should not offer nuts to a child without the parent's permission.
About the Author: Anne Ehmer is passionate about food. Non-stop travelling between Europe and United States has somehow afforded Anne time to develop her unique skills in cooking. Her stimulating ideas and recipes are registered in her web sites All Foods Natural and World Food and Wine.