>> Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Yes, yes...getting a little cheesy with the title, but today I wanted to share a very simple snack idea - nuts! It's easy to go crazy preparing complicated snacks, but sometimes a very simple and easy snack will do. We eat a lot of nuts around here. They're so versatile and palate pleasing.
What's so great about nuts? Nuts are a great snack because they're high fiber and high protein. They're also high fat (up to 80% fat!) - mostly good fats (unsaturated fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids) but also a significant amount of saturated fat. Because they're high protein, a little goes a long way to making a body feel satisfied. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, B vitamins, phosophorous, and magnesium and low in sodium (though watch that excessive salt isn't added to your nut products). Nuts are high in protein, but they are limited in the essential amino acid lysine. Eat with peanuts or beans, both legumes and plentiful in lysine, and you have a "complete" protein meal.
Studies suggest that if eaten in moderation, nuts can provide numerous heart health benefits such as lowering your LDL (the bad cholesterol) level, improving the health of artery lining, and reducing the risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks. How much do you need to eat to reap the benefits? Just a handful a day - 1 or 2 ounces - is enough. As with any food, moderation is key when eating nuts.
We have a few favorite nut products around here. I've talked about Planters Nutrition products in the past as one of them contains HFCS. We really like the Planters Nutrition Heart Healthy Mix, though. It's a tasty mix of nuts and is only very lightly salted.
And we're crazy about Blue Diamond Almonds. Their Bold Maui Onion and Garlic flavored almonds taste like a Funyun crossed with an almond - SO good! It's a bit higher sodium than the Nutrition mix I mentioned above, but still lower sodium than most of the packaged nut products. You could mix the flavored almonds with some plain almonds to lower the overall sodium a bit while still getting a bit of flavor.
I also like to keep a bowl of unshelled nuts out for munching on. The kids have fun cracking the nuts open and digging out the nutmeat. It's an easy and fun snack they can have anytime, and it's time consuming enough that they won't overeat. (And occasionally they'll use a nut to play hockey with on our kitchen floor - an added benefit!) And don't forget about using nuts in things like homemade trail mix!
So many snacking options with nuts! And I didn't even talk about nut butters and other nut products. If it's been a while since you've snacked on nuts, think about adding it to your snack repertoire. They're great for kids and adults alike!