N is for Nuts!

by Leisa on May 20, 2009

No, I’m not talking about myself, although many people would describe me that way! :-)

I’m talking about natural, nourishing nuts that are an essential part of any genuine whole food / raw food diet.

There is even a website dedicated just to nuts!  See www.nutsforlife.com.au – they are totally nutty about nuts!

Ok, down to the  serious side of the business – nuts are wholesome, life-sustaining foods that are incredibly versatile and can be used in all sorts of main and dessert recipes, as well making awesome nut butters and being a healthy and easy snack.  They are packed full of vitamins, minerals, protein and good fats, and can have positive benefits for cardiovascular health, diabetes, some cancers and are beneficial for health in general.

Some people have allergies to certain nuts – especially peanuts – so best to avoid those!

Wherever possible find nuts that are really raw – most have some type of heat processing even though they are advertised as “raw”.  Raw often means “not roasted and salted”, not that they have never been processed by heat and have their enzymes intact.  Cashews are a classic example of this.  They are boiled in oil to help in the removal of their shells, heating the nuts and cooking the natural fats; rendering the nut dead or inactive – but they are sold as raw.   The nutritional benefit of this nut, compared to one that has been hand-shelled without heat, is not even comparable.  The hand-shelled nut, however, is much more expensive.

Nuts contain 70-90% fat which means that they are primarily a fatty food, and even though nuts contain good fats (if they are fresh and the fats haven’t gone rancid or been cooked), too much of a good thing is not healthy.  A handful of nuts a day is more than enough, and a handful is considered about 15 nuts.  Soaking them overnight is a good idea, not just to activate the enzymes and remove the enzyme inhibitors naturally found in nuts, but soaking also removes a percentage of the fat.

I use macadamia nuts blended with a few dates as a base for any pie recipe I make, which is very simple and a great alternative to pastry bases.  Nut butters made fresh are also great as a dip with carrot or celery sticks or spread on a flax cracker for a quick snack.  Soaked cashews make the most amazing cream and are a must in creamy dessert recipes.  Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of Selenium which many of us in Australia are deficient in, and pine nuts contain appreciable levels of zinc.

Go nuts! and ‘njoy exploring the nutty world of nuts :-)

Leisa

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