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Go Nuts: Eat Nuts!

Judy E. Buss

Who doesn’t like the buttery crunchy taste and texture of nuts? This large culinary family of edible kernels found in shells, is nutrition-dense and part of the nuts and bolts of a healthy diet. It offers numerous minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and mostly good fats, including Omega 3 fatty acids. Because of their high content of fat they should, however, be consumed in moderation. (That means don’t eat a baseball-field-size serving of a pecan pie!)

Cultivated for thousands of years, nuts include almonds, macadamia, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, coconut, pistachios, hazel nuts, pecans, and chestnuts. Peanuts are not nuts; they are members of the legume family of beans, lentils, and peas, but are frequently used as nuts, particularly when roasted. Some people are allergic to certain kinds of nuts and should strictly follow their doctor’s instructions.

When nuts are put through a grinder they yield nut butters. Pressed into oils is another way in which they are used for cooking, baking, sauces, and in dressings. Be sure and keep nuts and nut butters in the fridge, as they are perishable. Nuts taste best and are crunchier when roasted. Roasting directions are given in the recipes follow.

You can increase your nutritional intake and the yum factor by adding nuts to plain low-fat yogurt (including shredded unsweetened coconut – Mmm!), salads, fruit salads, cooked vegetables, bread stuffing, home baked granola, rice pilafs, sprinkled on cooked cereal, in a trail mix, and in pastry. Here are some delicious recipes for you to try – go nuts!

 BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CRANBERRIES AND NUTS
4 servings

4 cups butternut squash, room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries, packed
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped, roasted walnuts

  1. TO ROAST THE NUTS: Heat a large ungreased skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts single layered. Toss frequently to prevent them from burning. Roast until the nuts are fragrant and very slightly browned 5 – 8 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Immediately remove them from the stove and transfer to a plate to cool.
  2. TO CUT THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH: After washing and drying the vegetable, on a cutting board and with a large sharp knife, cut the squash into 1/2-inch rings in the approximate amount needed. Place each ring, flat-side-down and thinly shave off the rind all around. Remove the seeds and fiber from the ring centers. Cut each ring into ½-inch segments.
  3. Steam the squash about 7 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix all the other ingredients, except the squash and nuts. When the squash is done cooking add to the dressing.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the nuts.

BROCCOLI SALAD
4 servings

2-1/2 tablespoons roasted sliced almonds
5 cups small broccoli florets
DRESSING:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Steam the broccoli about 10 minutes, until tender-crisp, and let cool if serving cold.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
  3. Add the broccoli and mix gently. Just before serving, mix in the almonds.

NOTE: For a cold broccoli salad refrigerate the broccoli mixture in an airtight container for 1 hour before serving, and then mix in the roasted almonds.

“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.

Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.

Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.

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