In Honor of Earth Month, we will devote some April entries toward foods from the earth. If we look back at ancient foods of the earth, we find one thing in common: they are all nutrient-dense. Today, let’s examine nuts and seeds. Nuts are defined as dry, single-seeded fruits, enclosed in a tough outer layer. Some seeds also fit this description (such as sunflower and safflower).
According to the Nutcracker Museum (yes, there is such a place), nuts have existed for hundreds of thousands of years. They say, “Recently there was an archeological dig in Israel where researchers found evidence showing that nuts formed a major part of man’s diet 780,000 years ago. Seven varieties of nuts along with stone tools to crack open the nuts were found buried deep in a bog. The nuts were wild almond, prickly water lily, water chestnut and 2 varieties of both acorns and pistachios. The pistachios and water chestnut are similar to those found in the Far East and northern Europe today.”
Isn’t that incredible? Nuts are an amazing source of fiber, essential fatty acids, and protein. In fact, nuts and seeds can fulfill the protein category on My Plate. The combo of healthy fats, fiber and protein results in ENERGY. We all want more of that, right?
There is a plethora of research that has proven nuts and seeds to be protective against heart disease and numerous other health ailments. They help protect you from any inflammatory condition, which is essentially, every disease. Some people avoid nuts because they fear they will gain weight due to the fat content, but research suggests the contrary; nuts aid in weight loss! Why? Because they keep you satiated, preventing you from overeating.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate nuts and seeds in your diet:
- Try my latest favorite treats, Setton Farms’ Pistachio Chewy Bites; they’re made out of pistachios and cranberries, packed full of antioxidants, and so, so tasty!
- Toss some pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds in your salad.
- Make granola using nut(s) of your choice.
- Make a healthy trail mix that combines nuts, dried fruit, and maybe even some dark chocolate chips.
- Mix cashews in with your stir-fries.
- Add almond butter to your smoothies! Nothing beats blending a frozen banana, a cup of unsweetened almond milk and a couple tablespoons of almond butter.
And don’t go for the canned nuts you often find at the grocery store; they are loaded with excess oil and salt. Your best bet is to choose raw nuts; they’re nutritious and delicious!