I am a huge fan of nuts- and with good reason; nuts are full of protein, fiber and healthy fats! As a chef I find the vast array of healthy nuts to be completely versatile and I have found that even the pickiest among us can find a nut they enjoy- there really is a nut for everyone. And although nuts contain fat, it’s the good kind that helps rinse the body of bad cholesterol; and contributes to healthy hair, skin and nails.
With so many nuts, I wondered how my favorite nuts stack up.
Almonds are high in vitamin B, riboflavin, vitamin E, antioxidants and magnesium; and they are rich in powerful compounds that help our bodies fight bacteria and prevent oxidation that can lead to heart disease. For each 1 oz serving of almonds, there is 160 calories. And almonds play well in smoothies, as they add thickness and richness while adding fiber and protein. For those with gluten intolerance, almond flour is a fantastic substitute to white flour.
- Hazelnuts aka Filberts
Hazelnuts boast proanthocyanins, which help strengthen blood vessels, reduce heart disease and boost brain health. And hazelnuts, like most nuts, are perfectly placed in sweet and savory dishes. When cooking with hazelnuts, be sure to remove the outer husk, as it is quite butter and burns easily when sautéed.
Peanuts are technically a legume; and they are rich in folate, oleic acid and resveratrol- the antioxidant found in red wine and dark chocolate. Boiled peanuts, in their shell, cup for cup boasts more resveratrol than raw peanuts or peanut butter; and the amount is comparable to a 5 oz glass of red wine. So when we are all detoxifying our bodies during the January Christmas come down, we can still get resveratrol into our lives!
Pecans are a dynamo; they contain a higher antioxidant capacity then wild blueberries; and regular consumption may help delay age related cognitive decline. So for those of us with a family history of Alzheimer’s and dementia, pecan should be a part of our mental health care regime. Pecans are so buttery and rich and I LOVE having them sprinkled over Greek yogurt with a bit of raw honey.
Walnuts are the only nut that delivers a large amount of ALA, an omega 3 fatty acid that boosts cognitive function. They are also high in gammatocopherol, a type of vitamin E that is known to fight disease. Although walnuts are a welcome addition in many dishes; walnut oil is even better. When added to pasta, hummus and pestos it has the ability to a regular dish to the next level!
Pistachios get their greenish color from chlorophyll; the same compound that gives leaves their color. And they are extremely high in potassium, which helps to manage blood pressure; but be sure to consume the unsalted variety, as salt counteract the potassium’s effects. Pistachios have also been shown to reduce the body’s response to stress.
My newest kitchen obsession are simple pastas; olive oil, garlic, whole grain pasta and nuts. This weekend was all about pistachios pasta. This pasta is 15 minutes to make and has everything needed for a complete meal; protein from the pistachio, fiber from the pasta and disease fighting compounds and flavor from the garlic. You will like!
Makes 3 servings
45 g uncooked whole wheat pasta
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup raw pistachios, raw
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp red chili flakes
In boiling salted water cook the pasta for 8 minutes; or until it is cooked to your liking. Drain and coat with 1 tsp of olive, to prevent sticking, and set aside. In a sauce pan, heat the olive on medium heat; don’t get it too hot or else the garlic will burn and get bitter. Add the garlic and stir continuously; cook for 2 minutes and add the salt, pepper, chili flakes and toss for an additional minute. Remove from the heat, add the pasta and toss