Oh Nuts! A Peek into My Cupboard…

Nuts and seeds are awesome! They make a great quick snack, they satisfy your hunger and provide the energy your body needs. Nuts also help to fuel the brain as fats are important for brain function. They are a great topping and addition to all sorts of other meals and snacks.

You can add nuts and seeds to oatmeal, stir fry, salads, burritos, and grain dishes. A healthy amount to consume would be one to three ounces daily (you can eat on the higher end of this spectrum if you are more physically active.) I usually just grab a small handful as a rule of thumb (or hand?)

Here are some of my favorite go-to nuts and seeds, in no particular order. I love these nuts and seeds because they are particularly healthful and they are some of the more economical as well. I tend to buy them raw from the bulk section, and snack on them that way. I enjoy them raw but not so much that I want to overeat them, unlike store-bought roasted, which I can easily overeat.  Sometimes I slow roast them in an un-oiled cast iron skillet before I add them to a meal. Caution must be taken, as heat can destroy the Omega 3 fatty acids some of these nuts contain.

Special thanks to Worlds Healthiest Foods and SELF Nutrition Data for much of this information.

Walnuts

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An ounce of walnuts is about a small handful

I love walnuts because they are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, are a good source of Vitamin E, they have number of antioxidants and are considered anti-inflammatory. Regular consumption of walnuts have been implicated in good heart health, bone health, and can help with weight loss.

Almonds

Almonds are also a small handful.
An ounce of almonds are also a small handful.

Besides the uses mentioned above, I love roasted almond butter (sometimes with little bit of miso) on a piece of sprouted wheat toast. Most health food stores allow you to grind your own almonds, which allows you to avoid extra oil and salt.

Almonds are packed with biotin (a B vitamin that supports skin and nails), Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and assorted minerals. They reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. They are anti-inflammatory. An ounce of almonds has 8% of your recommended calcium, which, while not enough to be considered a “good” source (due to ratio of calories to the amount of calcium), it still can supplement your daily calcium intake. One ounce of almonds also has 12% of your recommended protein allowance and 14% of your fiber.

Sesame Seeds

2 TBSP make an ounce of sesame seeds
2 TBSP make an ounce of sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are full of minerals, including copper, iron and zinc, as well as Vitamin B1 and fiber. Besides using them in some of the ways described above, you can purchase tahini, which is a paste or a butter made from sesame seeds. On its own, tahini has a bitter taste. But it is delicious simply mixed with lemon juice to pour on veggies, grains and beans, as a base for salad dressing, and it’s what gives hummus its tang.

1 oz. of sesame seeds gives you 17% of your recommended calcium for the day.  From the Healthiest Foods in the World website:

“In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.”

Chia Seeds

It’s only been a few years since chia seeds hit it big in the U.S., after the book Born to Run extolled the virtues of chia seed in helping native Mexican tribesman run 50 miles a day. I love chia seed bowls for breakfast- mix up 1/4 cup of chia with 2 cups of your favorite nut milk, a little maple syrup and some vanilla extract in the evening and you have a very filling breakfast for two once you add in some chopped fruit and granola in the morning. When mixed with water, chia seeds forms a gel which is also useful for egg-free baking.

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  2 tbsp gives you 40% of your fiber, 9% of your protein, 18% of your calcium and a dose of other minerals. I don’t have a picture but 1 oz. of chia seeds is a heaping tablespoon.

Pumpkin Seeds 

Pumpkin Seeds are rich in Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting when we cut ourselves, to stop bruising, and is good for bone health. They also have a good mineral profile. Sorry I don’t have a picture but an ounce of pumpkin seeds is a big ol’ handful.

1 oz of sesame seeds is almost a 1/4 cup.
1 oz of sesame seeds is almost a 1/4 cup.

Sunflower Seeds

I also love having sunflower seeds around, as they are rich in many of the B vitamins, especially Thiamin. They also have a good amount of fiber and protein (10% and 12% of the recommended amounts, respectively).

Hemp Seeds

I recently got into hemp seeds.. and I can’t believe I waited this long! Hemp seeds are tasty and I love making hemp seed milk, since there is no soaking needed, unlike all other nuts and seeds. It is a great source of both protein and Omega 3 essential fatty acids. They are a very good source of magnesium.

Not a comprehensive list…

There are many other nuts and seeds out there, with many great qualities, but this is what I actually keep around the house most of the time. Share your favorite nuts and seeds how you enjoy them.

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