Are you trying to eat a bit healthier these days? Or perhaps you’d like to drop a couple of pounds, but you have a hard time staying on the straight and narrow because of snacking (especially between meals)?
It’s not that snacking itself is bad. No, the problem is usually in what we select for snacks. Going for what’s easy and convenient tends to mean store bought and processed.
And while grocery store snacks are convenient, they’re loaded with extras – fats of the unhealthy polyunsaturated types, and high levels of added sugar, sodium, preservatives, and those mysterious multi-syllable additives.
Of course, fruit and vegetables are good snack choices, but sometimes you want something a little different.
You can always buy organic trail mix and granola bars, but the prices are high and the bars still contain a lot of ingredients that are better left alone. If we had better snack options available, it would be much easier to bypass the ones that load on the unwanted calories… and the guilt.
Foodal loves the Food to Live Walnuts (Raw, No Shell) available from Amazon
So, to that end, consider the humble nut. Create your own fruit and nut mixtures tailored to your personal tastes, or try making your own dried fruit, nut, and chocolate granola bars, or the tasty recipes for Low-Fat Walnut Granola Bars and Pistachio-Cardamom Muffins posted below. Also, don’t forget a quality nutcracker if you choose in-shell selections.
Nuts and seeds are a powerhouse among the food groups. These little nuggets pack a wide variety of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help keep our bodies fit and healthy, including maintaining eye health.
Here are a few of their wholesome nutritional properties:
- Abundant in monounsaturated fats – the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that aid in reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and boosting the good cholesterol (HDL) – nuts are heart healthy.
- Nuts are a superb source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body.
- They contain many of the B vitamins – notably riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folates – necessary for efficient metabolism.
- They’re rich in minerals. Copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium are all found in rich supply.
They’re also high in dietary fiber, so just a small handful will satisfy. And because of their high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids similar to those found in seafood, they’re a great choice for those who don’t like fish. With a wonderful crunchy texture and a smooth, buttery flavor, nuts and seeds are energy dense and provide plenty of fuel when vitality lags.
Mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Choose nuts that are raw or dry roasted, and avoid those that have been roasted in oil or that have added salt.
Add some raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for a boost in folic acid, and tryptophan for better sleep. Mix in some raw, dried fruit such as unsweetened cherries, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, and goji berries, and ginger root to assist metabolism.
Choose from this list, a selection of what are known as the healthier nuts:
The brains of the nut family, they contain the most concentrated amounts of antioxidants and the greatest amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Foodal suggests the Food to Live Brand for the best quality.
Almonds are known for their high concentrations of vitamin E, which helps to lower unhealthy LDL cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. Again, these are available in a raw and organic form for making butter, or you can also purchase roasted varieties to use in recipes or simply to eat.
Loaded with potassium and vitamin E, pistachios are among the lowest in calories. Foodal recommends those sold by Fiddyment Farms as they are very lightly salted (just enough).
While they may resemble kidneys, they’re actually good for brain cells, being plentiful in zinc and iron. For snacking we recommend Farm Fresh Nuts’ Dry Roasted Cashews with Himalayan Salt. Although it is a type of sodium, the Himalayan salt is a natural product that contains over 80 essential trace minerals to assist your body’s various systems, and it is a healthier alternative to the usual table salt.
For making raw nut butters, we recommend Food to Live’s Certified Organic Raw Cashews. We like Food’s to Live’s quality, and since they are US based, you can be confident that they are truly organic (USDA supervised and inspected).
If you love cashews, make sure to check out our delicious gluten free cashew brownie recipe!
Pecans are definitely a welcome boost for your eating routine because they provide a range of benefits that will support your well-being. Pecans include various forms of the antioxidant vitamin E, and additionally they contain phenolic compounds that also have antioxidant attributes.
Studies have shown that a diet regime high in pecans may reduce cholesterol by as much as sixteen percent, as a result of plant sterols present in pecans. These nuts also provide over twenty minerals and vitamins such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, B (folic acid and others), and E. These nuts are also loaded with fiber and protein.
Foodal recommends We Got Nuts’ Raw Pecans, available from Amazon. These enormous pecan halves are grown, packed and sealed in Georgia and are of premium quality. They have a very good taste and they are definitely big enough to use in your baking and cooking endeavors.
Heavy in monounsaturated fats that so good for heart health… but also among the highest in calories, so snack on these sparingly!
Foodal recommends Mauna Loa Macadamias. We like these as they are grown and packed fresh in Hawaii, are quite large, and have the best taste of any that we’ve tried.
Packed with selenium, which shows positive beneficial properties in cancer prevention, and can assist those with thyroid disease to increase their selenium intake without having to turn to various pills and capsules. If you don’t have a thyroid problem, you don’t want to overdo it on the selenium, so go easy on these.
Foodal recommends Food to Live’s Brazil Nuts. Their offering is among the freshest, and is all natural as well as certified organic.
Low Fat Granola Bars
A quick and easy recipe, these chewy granola bars are nutritious and make for a tasty snack. The dates add unprocessed sweetness while the walnuts and sunflower seeds add texture. And the cinnamon and orange zest adds a little extra zip of flavor.
Less expensive than bars purchased at the grocery store, they’re also delicious and packed with healthful ingredients. If you want to indulge in the complete “from scratch” experience, check out this recipe for granola.
Made with pistachios, buttermilk, and sweet masala-style spices including warming and flavorful cardamom, these muffins are a true taste treat. And the simple recipe, with short preparation and cooking times, makes these spicy-sweet muffins even more enjoyable.
Make batches of mixed nuts, granola bars or muffins on the weekend and you’ll be set for the week – prepared with healthy and nutritious snacks.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.