Nuts like almonds, peanuts and walnuts are, perhaps, the only part of festive indulgences that health experts will never warn you against. Loaded with important nutrients like monosaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid, protein and dietary fibre, nuts are your answer for dipping energy levels and quick healthy snacks. But how do you try to include them in your diet? Do you keep a jar handy at work? Fill up a special pouch in your office bag, or pop them the minute you enter your house? While some of these strategies are highly recommended, sometimes the best of us can't include important foods like nuts in our daily diets because of our busy schedules. Here are some easy and quick tips to help you ensure that you get your daily dose of nuts...
Each of us must attempt to eat at least 7-12 almonds, 4-6 walnuts, 5-8 raisins (we know it's not a nut, but include it anyway) and a few peanuts (no more than hallf a handful) every day. This can easily be incorporated in other meals and snacks so that we don't need to keep aside any extra time for them. Here are the quick strategies as promised:
- Add them to your salads. This is probably the best way to include them. Don't make your own salads? Just take them out of your bag and sprinkle them over the salad at work or restaurant. You'll feel fuller for longer and the salad will have a far more interesting texture.
- Add nuts to your curries. Dry roasted nuts can be added in the final stages of any curry or vegetable. Try peanuts with stir-fried cabbage. Walnuts with gentle fish curries. Or almonds with spicy chicken curries. Very soon, you'll find that you end up loving the new taste of these nutty curries.
- Add them to your pastas and sauces. If you're beginning to detect a theme of add-nuts-to-everything here, then you're catching on. Pastas cooked with spinach, broccoli and other greens go beautifully with thinly sliced almonds. In fact, some simple pasta sauces can even use a tablespoon or two of pureed peanuts.
- Add powdered nuts in soups and casseroles as thickening agents. Leave that refined flour and roux made with butter and cheese. Try some powdered almonds instead. They thicken low-fat milk and yougurt quite wonderfully and add there own distinct flavour to the mix.
- Add nuts to fruit or other natural food desserts. The trick here is to stick to portion sizes. So if you're looking at filling a small bowl with a fruit dessert, then take your daily recommended dose of nuts and sprinkle them on top. In fact, chopped bananas with clove honey, sprinkled with sliced almonds and walnuts, and topped with a dash of powdered cinnamon is an exquisite and healthy dessert.
A few more pointers to get you started with adding nuts to your daily diet:
- Remember your portions. Just because nuts are good for you, does not mean that you move door to door on Navratri and finish all the almonds in your neighbourhood. Stick to your daily portions (as mentioned above).
- Other ingredients that always go well with nuts are cinnamon, honey (especialy clove honey), fruits (especially grapefruit, oranges and tangarines), brown rice, cabbage, and zuchhini.
- If you like indulging in some rich dark chocolate sauce once in a while, you can even dip almonds or walnuts into the sauce to rid at least some of your guilt.
In the end, moderation will always be king. Be clever about making nuts a part of your daily diet, and you will find that each meal and snack keeps you full for longer and those kilos shed away.