First of all, it’s important to understand why nuts are healthy and good for you. Next to hemp seed protein, nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein available. They are also rich in fiber and antioxidants. Additionally, nuts are high in fat – the good kind! They contain mostly omega 3 fats (most nuts), which are great for reduction of inflammation and helping metabolize fat, this is very important for athletes.
Almonds are one of the post popular nuts and are especially high in vitamin B2, fiber and antioxidants. Almonds are the most nutritious nut of all. Walnuts are also a very healthy nut, and highly beneficial to athletes. They are rich in B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. They also help retain electrolyte levels, which is important to help athletes stay hydrated.
Now that you know some of the health benefits of nuts it’s time to learn how to include more of them into your daily diet. It should be noted though that since nuts are high in calories they should serve as a replacement food, and not an addition to our daily caloric intake.
- Snacks: Everybody loves snacks, but often times we tend to choose unhealthy options. Making healthy choices can be difficult when vending machines are readily available and clients bring good into the office. Nuts are great to keep around your desk to curb those hunger cravings. Seasoned nuts make for an very tasty snack, there are many store bought options, but most are not raw. You can make your own raw, seasoned nuts, at home; just check out my recipes here.
- Nut Butters: Almond butter is pretty much a staple food in my diet, I often put it in my smoothies or spread it over a piece of Ezekiel bread, topped with banana and occasionally agave nectar. Cashew butter is considered a delicacy in my book, but can be easily made at home if you have a high-speed blender such as the Vita-Mix.
- Raw Deserts: You would be surprised at how many delicious raw deserts are out there that involve nuts. Susan over at Rawmazing has a new book out full of delicious raw deserts; it’s well worth checking out. There are also plenty of great raw food (and a few cooked) recipes on the site.
- Energy Bars: Nuts are a great source of complex carbs and protein, and are easily consumed in the form of an energy bar. Check out the recipes I have here on my blog. There are also plenty of store bought raw energy bars, but it’s much more cost effective to make your own if you can find the time.
- Almond Milk: Easy to make, and highly nutritious! Simply blend up 1 cup of almonds to 3 cups of water and strain through a milk bag or fine cheesecloth and you have your self a highly nutritious non-dairy beverage that is great in smoothies, with granola, or as a simple morning drink. You can also sweeten your nut milk by using dates, stevia, or agave nectar. Almond milk is also a great substitute for dairy and soy products to use in your tea or coffee. Store bought almond milk is also a good alternative.
The Benefits of Soaking Nuts
Soaking nuts before you consume them is very important. Nuts have a natural enzyme inhibitor that makes them more difficult to digest. Soaking nuts (and seeds) neutralizes the enzyme inhibitor and makes them easier to digest. Additionally the amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids your body can absorb increases. Soaked nuts are simply put, more nutritious.
- Almonds 8-12 hours (the only nuts that sprout*)
- Cashews 2.5 hours
- Walnuts 4 hours
- All others 6 hours
Although these nuts sprout, you will not see tails. They only swell.
Feel free to share your favorite nutty recipes here. Also, be sure to check back on future Fridays for great nutty recipes.