Talking nuts today, (yes, a common thing I do) – but seriously just how good are nuts?
This tiny little bit of food is power packed with lots of essential nutrients – and different nuts contain different things. Example – the Brazil nut is a great source of selenium but also good at reducing the LDL cholesterol, however, research has shown that you only need to have four of these awesome nuts ONCE A MONTH.
Yup, only once a month that’s all it takes to help get that bad cholesterol down.
Now some nuts are healthier than others but they are all a good source of unsaturated fat – the good fats – they’re also a great source of protein and most are a good source of vitamins B and E.
The top 5 for me are:
- Macadamias which contain more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Cashews are very high in iron, zinc and magnesium. Iron helps keep your blood oxygenated, zinc is great for the immune system and magnesium can improve memory.
- Brazil nuts, as mentioned above, the selenium can help prevent cancer.
- Almonds, these nuts contain more fibre than any other nut and they’re also the highest in Vitamin E
and number 5
- Walnuts – quite a maligned nut, but contains the most antioxidants of any nut around. Also contains the most omega-3 fatty acids which fights inflammation And high in manganeses which can reduce PMS symptoms.
The beauty of nuts is that you can use them in lots of different ways. Not only having them as a raw snack but they can be used for making milk, the base for creamy sauces and dressings and butters.
Here’s a tip – Keep your nuts fresh by storing them in the fridge it gives them a longer ‘shelf’ life.
Oh, and one last thing – they’re a great source of calcium and magnesium for healthy bones – see don’t need animal dairy at all if you’re eating nuts
I’ve talked about nuts before – so go here to get the gen on making nut milks – The Humble Nut
We really do sometimes take the humble little nut for granted when, in fact, it packs an almighty powerful punch.
Not only can we use the nut in different ways, but it is also a major contributor to our health.
So let’s start with the nutritional value of nuts. Yes, it does depend a wee bit on the actual nut, but generally they are a source of:
- protein (yes, nodding head, they are)
- calcium (see, you don’t need dairy – chop some nuts and sprinkle over dark green veg and you’re good to go!)
- Vitamin E
As I said – each type of nut offers different things. However they pretty much all have fat in them – good fat – but still fat. This is why you don’t want to sit down to a bag of nuts!!! Instead it’s recommended that a handful a day is sufficient. (mixed or one type).
Please avoid nuts that have been roasted as they normally will be done in oil and have salt and/or flavourings added. It’s best to buy raw and dry roast them in the oven yourself.
HOW TO STORE. Sadly nuts come already shelled and not chilled which means you have no idea how old they are. If they smell a bit “off” (rancid) they are waaaaay past their ‘best by’ date. When you get them home … pop into the fridge and they will last longer.
What to do with them:
Nuts make remarkable milk that can be used either in cooking or just plain over grains or to drink. To make the nut milk –
- Organic nuts are best and they ought to be fresh. You could use any kind of type, however, I suggest you start with either almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts or hazelnuts.
- This is where you need to have a really good, and powerful blender – one that you make smoothies with.
Next you’ll need something to strain the milk with. You could use cheese cloth or muslin which I’d suggest to start with – you can get a nut milk bag later on if you want to continue making your milk.
- Soak the nuts over night this will soften them and make it easier to blend.
- The portion is 1 cup of nuts to 3 cups of filtered water (you can alter the amount of water as you get familiar with the process
- Put into your blender and blend at high speed until the nuts are well mixed. (They’ll turn the colour of milk)
- Strain the fluid through your cheese cloth to separate it from the pulp, getting out as much milk as possible by twisting the cloth.
- You can use the pulp in baking.
If you do want to sweeten the milk, try with a little date puree which is the healthiest option … just put it back into the blender with the date puree and blend well.
Again quite a simple process. Your food processor will do the job effectively.
- Organic nuts and this time dry roast them and cooled
- Oil – maybe.
- Put the cooled nuts into the processor and start to blend them.
- They should start forming a ball. Some nuts won’t need the extra oil, but if you think the nuts are not forming enough of a paste, then add a little oil to help the process.
- Once made, place into pot or small glass jar to use.
Nuts au natural:
Regardless if you have them whole or chopped they are a fabulous addition to practically anything.
- Include cashews to stir-fried vegetables – scrumptious.
- Obviously you can always add nuts to baking e.g. cakes, breads or cookies.
- A little mix of nuts sprinkled over a salad or I’ve been known to put them over veggies.
That’s it – so go nutty!