Strengthening the mind, the bod’, and the soul, is such a non-negotiable. As an aside, go watch this, and this before you baulk at my suggestions in replacing dairy with these alternatives in some camps.
When I find something I love, I get obsessed and love it to death (including people). The obsession of late is nuts.
A couple facts:
- How much protein are we talking? This much. Avoid point 5.
- Nuts can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
- Nuts can be bought in bulk and hence become cost-efficient.
- Nuts can be eaten raw or blended/processed and are a great snack to-go.
- Nuts are a huge source of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
- Nuts to eat: almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts.
- Nut-do: consume dry roasted or raw.
- Nut-do not: consume roasted or packaged in oil.
- Nut-do not: overeating any kind can cause negative effects like inflammation, weight gain, and raised blood pressure (just to name a few). Envision 10 almonds or cashews as sufficient.
- Avoid peanuts under any circumstance if you’re able. Read why here. I quit eating them 6 years ago.
My top 5 uses for nuts right now
1. Sauces:replace dairy-laden or heavy-meat pasta sauces with cashew cream. This is the recipe I used and it literally took me 5 minutes from start to completion. I also had all of the ingredients on hand. You will, however, need to soak your nuts for at least 2 hours (or better yet, overnight) before tossing into the Vitamix (wet bowl) or food processor.
This off the dial cashew cream sauce can be tossed with zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash, used as a sour cream substitute on your Mexican food, and more.
2. Cheeses and pâté: again, watch this video or this clip. I’m not saying don’t have dairy, I’m saying pick, choose and be ethical. That said, nut cheese is fucking delectable, ethical, and sinless! Did I mention it won’t make your beautiful face break out in cystic acne? Dairy might contain healthy bacteria, yes, though it isn’t exactly a friendly ingredient to aging. As in – it will age your skin a lot quicker than should you be living without it or in limited doses.
Cashew cheese. As on previous notes, infuse this bad boy with whatever your taste buds desire: pink peppercorns, truffle, herbs, garlic, etc. Go for it.
Walnut pâté. Eats like a meat, literally. A great infusion for this one, since walnuts are quite earthy in taste, is mushrooms (think: shiitake, crimini or portobello). I have yet to find or curate a recipe I’m in love with. When I do, I shall update here.
3. Spreads and dips: the beauty of DIY’ing nuts into whatever you wish them is that you can control the viscosity, consistency and flavour. Add garlic, Sriracha, spices and fresh herbs, pesto, sundried tomatoes, or kalamata olives. Fresh herbs and ethnic vegetables are your friend in this category. Make the paste thicker by adding less water. Runnier: add more water. The sky is the limit. Experiment.
Use your newly adapted nut spread and dips as a winning component to your appetizer spread. It will no doubt be a hit. A no brainer for dunking crisp vegetables or a fresh, crunchy baguette into.
4. Butter and mylk: almond or cashew butter. Replace your much beloved processed peanut butter with one of these instead. Yes, the nostalgia rings loud and clear about having a scoop of peanut butter from the jar as a kid, though what about the icing sugar that acts as its binding agent? I’m talking about the typical peanut butter made popular circa the 80’s that I still see in a lot of people’s cupboards. You might as well turn that sugary binding agent into liquid and pump it to your veins quicker if that’s the point. Have I mentioned that sugar feeds cancer?
Nut mylk (think: almond or cashew). Find a DIY nut milk tutorial on You Tube or an awesome step by step in pictures like this one. I have yet to endeavour myself, though am committed to venturing this before spring. Once the nut mylk is made, sweeten with dates, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, persimmon, banana and more. My favourites I happily source and consume from one of my favourite local juiceries.
Point: buy or make your own nut butter and nut mylk (excluding peanut). Avoid the sugar and the preservatives.
5. Toppings, snacks and texture: add to salads, soups, rice dishes, pastas, cereals, oatmeal – you name it. Reach for nuts and toss them on anything. They will add texture, among the other health benefits we’ve briefly mentioned.
Nuts are one of the easiest to-go snacks as well. One of the first snacks that pops to mind is an apple and nuts when I think of a midday treat, or survival sustenance 😉
All said, listen to your gut and your own team of health professionals; I am certainly not qualified as one of them. I’m just your average foodie with a love to share the wealth.