I’m kinda nuts for nuts lately. They’ve got to be one of the easiest, most delicious and satisfying whole foods on the planet, don’t you think?
I get the feeling some people are scared of nuts because of their high fat content. But when you flip that fear mongering on its head the facts are this: Nuts contain many of the key nutrients we need in one tiny package, including healthy fats, fiber, proteins and, yes, carbohydrates—all of which we need plenty of.
When you’re busy or on the run, it’s easy to reach for crappy food out of convenience. But these days, if I’m starving and my next meal is a little ways away, a handful of nuts is the perfect tide-over to keep me focused.
Lately, I’ve been especially into almonds and pistachios. The latter are not only delicious, but I love popping them out of their shells, like a little reminder that we once had to do some work for our food. What’s your nut of choice?
According to the Mayo Clinic, nuts can also prevent heart disease. Nutrients do vary by type, but most nuts contain omega-3s, vitamin E, plant sterols, and l-arginine. Most of these are proven to be good for our hearts and health in multiple ways—not to mention our skin!
Fun Ways To Eat Them
Inspired by Siobhan’s seed post last week, I thought I’d share some of my favorite creative ways to eat nuts. Got any fun nutty recipes?
—In dessert. I still love this recipe that features salty almond butter in Greek yogurt.
—In soup. And this one too.
—In stir frys. Cashews, almonds, or whatever nut you have on-hand can add all kinds of texture and deliciousness to a fry.
—In salad. Especially good with asian salad dressings, like rice vinegar, miso paste, olive oil and green onions.
OK, you’re up.
I’m on a big seed kick lately. It all started when I (successfully!) recreated my favorite salad in the whole entire world. It’s this carrot and avocado one* from ABC Kitchen here in New York, and despite how unspecial it sounds—carrots are carrots, avocados are avocados—it’s shockingly delicious. One reason: The sesame and sunflower seeds it calls for on top.
Since I like to take liberties with recipes, I decided to stock up on pumpkin and hemp seeds** and include those as well. Of course, whenever you make something at home that calls for a teaspoon of something you wouldn’t otherwise buy, you’re stuck with the “What do I do with the rest?” conundrum. Well, I’ll tell you:
I’ve been putting nuts and seeds on everything. Who knew simple seeds could make such a big difference on your old standbys? Not this guy.
Here’s why hemp seeds are good for you: They’re high in easily digestible protein, which means they don’t make you bloat like some other vegetable protein sources like whey and soy. They also have the 3:1 omega 3 to 6 ratio (that’s food-nerd speak for “good”), a nice amount of fiber, and more essential fatty acids than anything else in nature—including flax seeds, which I could never get into, frankly.
Here’s how to store them: In an airtight container or airtight resealable bag, in the fridge. Airtight is important; otherwise the natural oils can go rancid.
Here’s where to buy them: At any health food store, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. Go with organic.
And finally, here’s how I like to eat them…
1. Raw in Greek yogurt or a warm breakfast cereal. Do this with some nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit and any other seed you have handy for a tasty breakfast high in plant-based protein and healthy fats.
2. As part of a nut-and-seed crust for fish or tofu. Dry toast your seeds together in a cast-iron skillet—no oil, medium heat, until they start to pop and crack. Turn off the heat, let them cool and them combine with a little dijon and honey for the most delicious crust ever.
3. In a smoothie. Just toss ‘em in there.
4. Dry-toasted with spices then sprinkled on a salad or some kale. Same dry-toasting method as above, but this time with spices you like. This brings out the nuttiness of the seeds and with a little cumin (or whatever), it can completely transform something as simple as steamed kale or salad.
5. Baked into homemade granola bars. I’ll admit that I have not done this yet, but I’m going to try this recipe from My New Roots, the best food blog in the world, for Totally Baked Hemp Protein Granola Bars this week.
Are you into hemp seeds? Some other seeds? How do you eat them?
* The recipe is in the new Jean-Georges cookbook, Jean-Georges Cooks At Home (a few more of his vegetarian recipes here), which I have been tearing through at an incredible clip. I swear I’ve made almost all the salads already—and there are many.
** Can’t get high off of them but yes, they are from the same plant.
Bit of a break from form but hey, it’s our girl’s big day and I know I’m not the only one who appreciates her truly, madly and deeply!
So join me in wishing this kind little Pisces with the gigantic hair a very merry birthday.
And if you want the recipe for the above vegan and gluten-free chocolate coconut cake (Gah! Whut! I wish I knew how to bake…), click here.
We know that many of you are seasoned vegetable eaters and all but this challenge is about sneaking in MORE fruits and veggies: like ten servings. That can be a lot even by our crunchy standards.
So, since we’re all in this together, let’s share our best tips. And while you’re at it, tell us how the challenge is going for you (and tell the truth!). Recipes are always welcome, of course.
If you’re having trouble staying motivated, remember the Japanese farmers (!), and also this sort-of-silly-but-also-awesome “study” of how vegetables actually make you look glowy and tanned.
Here are a few ways I’ve been upping my number of servings, and a few other ways I plan to in the coming days (and weeks and months, because the point of these challenges is to help create better habits, right? Right.) Nothing groundbreaking here, and a few things we’ve harped on before, but voila:
- Salads: This is a total duh but I often make pretty simple green salads. You can get five fruits and veggies into a salad in a blink, watch: cucumber, tomato, avocado, grated carrot, artichoke hearts. Done.
- Smoothies: Another no-brainer, but if you really don’t enjoy eating fruits and/or vegetables this is the easiest way to slam a bunch down in one sitting. Spinach, berries, weird stuff from your CSA box, not much can’t be blended into smoothie submission.
- Soups: A.k.a. winter’s smoothies, especially for this girl who can’t stomach too much raw food in the colder months. Even if you’re all thumbs in the kitchen, you can throw some spinach, cauliflower, broccoli (or all!) into a pre-made tomato soup and call it four servings.
- Omelettes: Onions, spinach, red peppers, zucchinis and any veggies that don’t necessarily sing on their own, can be julienned into an omelette for guaranteed deliciousness.
- Snacks: Precut veggies—especially good when dipped in Dijon—are an easy way to veggie-load. Carrots are delicious right now, and so are radishes and broccoli. When it comes to fruit, don’t forget your old schoolyard friends: apples and oranges. As an adult I’m always surprised by how delicious these are when I think to eat them (not often).
That’s all I got! Now, how are you guys getting more of nature’s treats in your tummies?
I love how Hever pre-washes all her farmers’ market veggies, and prepares a big salad twice a week, keeping it in her fridge so that it’s always ready. Do any of you do this kind of pre-prep kitchen work to save time and ensure healthier choices when you’re on the go?
Onto the piece:
Julieanna Hever has made a career out of helping people understand how to create a healthy diet based on whole, plant-based foods.
Her first book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, was published this past August, and her second, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, will hit shelves tomorrow.
If that weren’t healthy-foodie credentials enough, she was also a special consultant for the documentary Forks Over Knives, and worked with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the author of The China Study, at Cornell University.
We peeked in the star nutritionist’s fridge to see what someone who literally wrote the book on healthy eating stocks:
So, you’re obviously a vegan, but are you totally gluten-free as well? I’m allergic to wheat, so I’ve been off it for several years. I’ll have it once in a while, but it gives me a really big stomachache. That’s why I did the new book!
Keep reading here.