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Why dietitians are nuts for nuts

Maple Toasted Walnut and Pear Salad.
Maple Toasted Walnut and Pear Salad. - Submitted

FOODWISE by Terry Daley

I’ll be the first to admit that keeping up with food trends and knowing what to eat can be overwhelming! New products and trendy flavours sure do keep things interesting and our palates pleased – but don't forget about old classics that have been kicking it in our kitchens for years. Sure, it’s fun to “get in with the new,” but there’s no need to get “out with the old” just yet – for example, nuts deserve some attention.

Research shows that nuts have many health benefits worth considering. First of all, nuts can help maintain heart health and prevent high blood pressure. Nuts gain a lot of their heart health qualities due to the mono and poly unsaturated fats they contain. Unsaturated fat helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Sources of monounsaturated fats include almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and peanuts, while walnuts are a source of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Walnuts have the added benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also good for your heart.

In addition, nuts may protect against some cancers and improve bowel health. This is due to unsaturated fat, fibre, protein and antioxidant content – talk about a powerhouse of nutrients! Nuts will also make you feel full, making them very useful to eat when managing weight. My favourite thing about nuts is that they are a great source of plant-based protein, and do not need to be refrigerated. This makes them so easy to eat on the go! Since we should aim to include a source of protein at all meals and snacks, try to have a serving of nuts ready when hunger strikes – in a purse, the dash of the car, a work locker or desk. This keeps snacks balanced and keeps you ahead of hunger, a nutrition “win-win.”

Portion control is key to nutty success! Since nuts are dense in healthy fats and calories, try to keep your serving to no more than a quarter cup (a small handful) per day, or two tablespoons for nut butters. Also – not all nuts are created equal. Make sure to buy plain, unsalted nuts that are raw or dry-roasted. This will help you avoid the extra salt or sugar that oil-roasted, salted, spiced and sugared nuts contain.

Even without the salt and sugar, nuts are so versatile. You can get creative with them or simply add them to what you’re already eating! Try sprinkling nuts onto your cereal in the morning, adding them to salads for a tasty crunch at lunch, topping pasta dishes or mixing them into soups and stews. If you get tired of the texture of nuts, try blending them into ground nut flours, which are popular in vegetarian baking, or add nut butters to smoothies or rice cakes for easy, balanced snacking.

Are you convinced yet that it’s time to go nuts? February is National Heart Health Month, so now is a great time to give nuts a try. Have fun reinventing this food staple because nuts are back in style and here to stay.

Maple Toasted Walnut and Pear Salad

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (175 mL) Walnut halves or pieces

  1. tbsp (25 mL) PC 100% Pure Medium Maple Syrup

1 large Bosc pear, cored and cut in large cubes (skin on)

  1. tbsp (25 mL) Cider vinegar
  2. tbsp (25 mL) PC Blue Menu Omega Oil

Pinch each Salt & pepper

  1. pkg (142 g) PC Organics Baby Spinach

  1. In dry frying pan set over medium-high heat, cook walnuts for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until golden and fragrant. Add maple syrup and pear pieces to frying pan; continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring gently, or until pears are tender. Transfer mixture to bowl to cool completely.
  2. Place vinegar in another bowl. Whisk in oil, salt and pepper. Add spinach and cooled pear mixture; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

TIP: Serve with a soft blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola or Roquefort, if desired.

Makes 5 servings

Per Serving: Calories 220 Cal, Fat 17 g, Omega-3 Polyunsaturates 0.33 g, Sodium 70 mg, Carbohydrate 14 g, Fibre 2 g, Protein 3 g

Recipe source: pc.ca

Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or educational store tour for yourself or your community group or business? Contact me by phone at (902) 921-0700 or by email at terry.daley@loblaw.ca.

Terry Daley is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow.

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