We are quickly approaching the festive season and at this time of year all kinds of nuts are traditionally eaten – from pecans to almonds to cashews. However, I propose nuts should be a staple in the diet all year round considering there are so many NUTritious benefits.
Each nut varies in health benefits however overall they are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats. It has been proved that nuts can even aid weight loss! A handful of nuts a day can do the world of good to your precious insides.
Almonds: If your diet is low in dairy products (e.g vegan diets) almonds can provide the essential calcium for strong bones. Almonds are also high in vitamin E which helps the appearance of your skin and hair. I great way to eat almonds is chopped up over porridge or blended into a breakfast smoothie.
Cashews: If you are following a vegetarian diet cashews may be for you. They are rich in minerals like iron and zinc plus they are full of protein. They are also high in magnesium which is thought to improve memory. Cashews are great in Asian dishes. For example, add to a chicken curry or toast and sprinkle over a stir fry.
Chestnuts: The most festive if all nuts. Chestnuts are lower in protein that other nuts but they contain useful B vitamins such as B6 and they are full of fibre. Add chestnuts to your buttery sprouts to spruce up your house Christmas dins.
Pecans: Rich in antioxidants which helps prevent plaque that builds up and causes the hardening of arteries. They are also rich in Oleic acid found in olives and avocados. They are also a good source of vitamin B3 which helps fight tiredness.
Here is a festive recipe using the wonderful pecan:
Pecan and Date Squares
Photo: Sonja Shah Williams
125g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
150g soft dark brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
Few drops of vanilla extract
200g chopped pecan nuts
350g chopped pitted dates
Preheat the oven to 170c
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl
In a larger bowl mix together the sugar and eggs before adding the vanilla extract, flour mixture, pecans and dates
Pour mixture into a greased 20x30cm tin
Bake for 35 minutes
Cool a little and cut up into bite sized squares