I’m often asked if nuts are a healthy option to include in your daily diet as many people consider them to be high in fat and therefore relatively calorific. A closed handful of unsalted nuts make a more nutritious snack choice than a couple of biscuits or a muffin, and they are considered to bring health benefits which biscuits or muffins sadly lack.
Allergy alert! – it’s possible to be allergic to any nut, however peanut allergy is the most common, affecting over 1% of children and adults in the UK. However, if you are able to tolerate nuts here are a few kernels of wisdom to encourage you to’ go nuts’ about nuts!
- Go ahead dieters! – recent studies have suggested that even though nuts are energy dense and packed with fats eating a small amounts does not cause significant weight gain and can even help support blood sugar levels making you feel fuller for longer.
- Heart healthy – Regularly consuming nuts as part of a healthy diet has consistently shown a cholesterol-lowering effect, especially in LDL cholesterol levels (the least healthy form of cholesterol). These nutrient-rich nuggets of nuttiness are associated with other wide-ranging heart healthy benefits linked to blood pressure and reducing coronary heart disease.
- Mood food – the so-called ‘happy hormone’ serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan which amongst other foods, is found in walnuts, cashews and almonds. Serotonin is in turn transformed into melatonin, a neuro-hormone linked to our sleep-wake cycle, so including nuts in your daily diet could be useful for balancing mood and sleep patterns.
- Antioxidant power – Almonds, hazelnuts and peanut butter provide good levels of vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from the damage caused by free radicals which may contribute to heart disease and cancer. In addition to its anti-oxidant effects vitamin E can be beneficial in reducing inflammation.
Up your intake with these simple recipes!
DUKKAH – a delicious seasoning for soups, salads or use as a starter with sourdough bread dipped in olive oil and dunked in the dukkah
- 100g pistachios or almonds or hazelnuts
- 4 tbs sesame seeds
- 3 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 1/2 tsp dried mint
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp cumin ground
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Toast the nuts in a large frying pan for 5 minutes; keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove and set aside. Toast sesame seeds, coriander, fennel and cumin seeds in the same pan. Place the nuts and seeds in a spice grinder, coffee grinder or small processor and blitz to a coarse powder. Remove to a bowl and mix through the ground cumin and sea salt. Serve. Keep any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
SPICY ROAST ALMONDS – serve as a savoury snack or with pre-dinner drinks!
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne powder
- 150g Almonds
Pre-heat the oven 180 degrees C, gas mark 4. In a large bowl beat together the egg white, cumin, paprika & cayenne. Add the almonds and mix until the nuts are thoroughly coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment and cover with a single layer of the nut mixture. Roast for 5-6 minutes until dark and matt. Leave to cool completely, then serve. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.