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Recently, Today’s Dietitian magazine conducted a survey of more than 500 dietitians and found that seeds and nuts are rated as one of 2015′s top “superfoods.”  It’s not surprising when you consider their nutrition value and versatility.  Nuts contain protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats.  They also contain several vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E, Vitamin B1 (thiamin), manganese, magnesium, copper and phosphorous, among others.

 

There are several different popular varieties of nuts to try, each with their own distinct flavor and each has nutrition benefits.  It might surprise you to learn that one of the most popular nuts isn’t a nut at all–the peanut is actually a legume, more closely related to beans and lentils.  Other popular nut varieties include:

  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts (Filberts)
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • Pine Nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower Kernels
  • Walnuts

pistachio nuts
Pistachios courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters

 

Nuts are great for snacking and wonderful for adding to baked goods, but don’t stop there!  Remember that these pack a powerful nutrition “punch,” so add them to other recipes as well.  A few ideas to consider:

  • Add chopped nuts to cold or hot cereal.
  • Sprinkle nuts as a topping to your salad in place of another topping like croutons or bacon bits.
  • Add a little crunch to your applesauce.
  • Mix some chopped nuts into your bread crumbs the next time you are making a chicken or fish cutlet dish that calls for a bread crumb topping.
  •  Yogurt + nuts and fruit are a delicious combo.
  • Try adding some chopped nuts to roasted veggies like Brussels sprouts.
 

Here are two healthy recipes I’ve included you’ll definitely want to try.  The first is Kale Salad with Warm Cranberry Vinaigrette.  This salad is chock full of goodness and so simple to make!  Shallots and garlic are sautéed in a bit of olive oil until tender before adding cranberries, red wine vinegar, honey and lemon juice.  In the meantime, fresh kale leaves are massaged with a bit more olive oil and a pinch of salt until tender before topped with the sautéed fruit and veggie mixture.  Mix the salad to coat and top with slivered almonds.

 

kale salad with cranberries and almonds
Photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

 

I mentioned adding nuts to side veggie dishes and this recipe for Honey Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Crispy Sage is a perfect example.  This delicious dish is easy to prepare.  Separate the cauliflower into florets and place into a bowl with a quarter cup of fresh, whole sage leaves and a quarter cup of pine nuts.  In another container make a dressing of olive oil, honey, garlic and salt.  You’ll bake this dish at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, stirring once.

 

roasted cauliflower with pine nuts
Photo courtesy of Food For My Family

 

Visit the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Nut Nutrition Database for detailed information on each nut variety, how to select and store nuts and even more ways to enjoy them.  I’ll be back next week with a closer look at Belgian endive–its nutrition benefits and some ways to add it to your diet.

 

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