Nuts and Seeds

Both nuts and seeds provide dietary fiber. Sprouts have plant fiber; bean and alfalfa sprouts are easily grown on the kitchen counter and are full of crunch and goodness. Nuts are a source of energy. They provide essential fatty acids, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. They rival meat in protein content and are the most concentrated vegetable source of oils. Substitute walnut oil for olive or canola oil for extra flavor in your salad dressing.

Nuts include almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, and coconuts. Seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, flax, poppy, pumpkin, caraway, celery, and fennel, are an excellent source of protein and minerals. They also have higher iron content than nuts and are high in unsaturated fats. Add them to salads and cooked vegetables as a healthy garnish.

Natural food stores usually have a variety of quick energy bars, which usually include nuts and seeds. These bars are convenient to have handy when you're on the run and need a pick-me-up. You can also carry the nuts themselves to snack on.

Nuts

Nuts are basically seeds with a hard shell. They are high in good fat and fiber. They are good to snack on because the fiber found in nuts helps you feel full quickly. However, if you are trying to lose weight, nuts should be eaten in moderation because of their fat calories. Eating fresh fruit, such as an apple or grapes, with a small handful of nuts will help fill you up faster and you will feel full longer.

Many specialty stores now sell toasted nuts with herbs or spices. Delectable rosemary-toasted or pepper-toasted nuts make wonderful garnishes for salads. Chestnuts, peeled and boiled or home roasted, are excellent in stuffing for game birds or turkey. French glazed chestnuts are wonderful as part of a dessert, such as a pudding, tart, or stewed fruit.

How can I promote the health benefit of beans to my family when I don't like kidney beans or wax beans?

If the ubiquitous “three-bean salad” of salad bar fame grosses you out, make your own. You don't have to use the traditional kidney beans, wax beans, and chickpeas if you don't like them. Substitute one or all for other legumes, such as black-eyed peas, green beans, or black beans. Toss equal amounts of the cooked, drained beans together and toss them with a little Italian dressing for seasoning.

Seeds

Like nuts, the fiber found in seeds helps to make you feel full quickly. They are a delicious and satisfying snack to stave off hunger and increase your fiber intake. Seeds are loaded with fiber; in fact, the seeds from the psyllium plant are used to make commercial fiber supplements.

There are many exciting ways to add seeds to your diet to enrich it. Toss some toasted sesame seeds into your vegetables. Add caraway seeds to coleslaw, cooked carrots, and cooked cabbage. Sprinkle celery seeds over hot pasta and mix them into pasta salads.

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