Making A Nut Case

by TGC Staff | January 16, 2002 12:00 am

Scientists and health experts have started to go nuts. Researchers have determined that nuts - used in moderation - can make beneficial contributions to a healthful diet. Nuts provide many of the same nutrients as other protein sources, like meat and poultry, but without the saturated fat.

There is new evidence that unsaturated fats - found in foods such as nuts, vegetable oils and fish - can lower the risk of several chronic diseases. Studies have shown significant drops in cholesterol when people add walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, or other nuts to their diets. (Peanuts are technically legumes but are eaten like nuts and have similar nutrition.) In addition to mono- and polyunsaturated fats, nuts contain vitamin E, protein, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber - all potential cancer-fighting substances.

The key to including nuts in your diet is moderation. Nuts are concentrated in calories, so be sure you cut back on other foods and watch portions. A serving of nuts is a scant handful. The cholesterol drops in the new research studies usually involved substituting three servings of nuts for other foods each day.

Nuts should be exchanged for foods with a similar number of calories. For example, instead of serving broccoli with 2 teaspoons of butter, saut cooked broccoli in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle it with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.

You get a lot of bang for your buck with a nut. A handful of nuts, which can be quite satisfying, is a better snack than chips or high-fat crackers made with hydrogenated oils. And nuts can replace some of the meat or cheese as the protein in salads and stir-fries. Spiced nuts are a good, filling snack. The flavor of most nuts benefits from a light toasting, as in the following recipe.

Spiced Toasted Almonds

Makes 2 cups or 8 servings.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In large, shallow bowl, combine thyme, salt, pepper and oil. Set aside.
  3. Place nuts in medium bowl. While tossing with fork, lightly spray with canola oil so all surfaces are coated.
  4. Lightly coat baking sheet with canola oil spray. Turn nuts onto sheet and spread evenly across surface. Place baking sheet in center of the oven.
  5. Toast until nuts are lightly browned and fragrant - about 8 minutes. Occasionally, shake pan to shift nuts and prevent scorching. (Be careful not to let nuts get too dark or they'll taste burned.)
  6. Remove from oven and immediately add hot nuts to spice mixture. Stir for a few minutes to coat the nuts thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature. Nuts can be sealed and stored for up to two weeks. Reheat in a hot oven.

Per serving:
223 calories
19 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat)
7 g. carbohydrate
7 g. protein
4 g. dietary fiber
235 mg. sodium

Source: AICR

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