May’s Food-of-the-Month: NUTS!

Posted on May 30, 2012 in Food and Fitness | 69 comments

At the beginning of May I mentally placed nuts on our monthly food pedestal.  But I’m so glad I didn’t get around to writing this post until after Mother’s Day–when my eyes were opened to the world of nuts in a brand new beautiful way.  I LOVE when God does stuff like this….

It was a cool, overcast day–perfect for a temporary escape into another world of MY choice!  How excited I was to look in the newspaper and learn of a movie called “Chimpanzee.”  Based on the short description about a baby chimp named Oscar, I knew this would be my kind of flick… I LOVE animal movies!  What I didn’t know is that I’d soon be entering the lush, “Biblical” world of fig trees and nut groves deep in the rainforest of Africa, a land to which I’ve desired going since childhood.  But this is where Oscar and his family so blessedly live, thriving largely on the protein and healthy fats of the NUTS God gave them!  Jillian Michaels would highly approve… of the chimpanzees’ skillful nut-cracking, I should say.

In Master Your Metabolism Jillian advises, “Get an old-school nutcracker and grab a bag of mixed nuts still in their shells.  The activity of cracking the nuts is entertaining and the effort involved will slow down your eating and cut down on mindless handfuls of nuts finding their way into your mouth.”  Although the film’s chimpanzees don’t seem concerned about eating too many nuts, Jillian’s rightful opinion is that we humans should be.

Nuts–especially almonds and walnuts–are on virtually every list of Power Foods or SuperFoods I’ve ever seen, but they are, as you may know, high in calories and fat.  But it’s the “good” monounsaturated fat that actually combats obesity by helping us feel full as well as fights heart disease by clearing arteries (The Abs Diet for Women, David Zinczenko).  Still, similar to February’s “Food-of-the-Month” Chocolate, we would be wise to eat nuts in moderation, taking proper advantage of their healthful benefits such as muscle-building protein and magnesium, fiber, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and numerous vitamins and minerals.  Of special note is a nutrient in almonds called biotin which promotes skin health, enhancing our complexion.

Nuts also satisfy our cravings.  Typically, before noon every day, I’ve already had my first if not second serving of nuts and/or almond butter.  Just as chocolate protein shakes “fill me,” keeping me from “needing” unhealthy choices of chocolate or other sweets, nuts and almond butter, too, satisfy what my body naturally wants.  Our bodies NEED healthy fats.  If you struggle with snacking on potato chips or crackers throughout the day, try substituting unsalted almonds or walnuts instead.  The latter are an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, and check this out:  “Research shows that elevated rates of depression can be linked to low levels of omega-3 in the diet.  Help yourself to a handful of walnuts on a daily basis and you will be able to fight off those blues” (The World’s Best PowerFoods, Robert Kennedy Publishing).

Have fun thoughtfully adding nuts to your daily diet!  Sprinkle on cereal and oatmeal, Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes and salads.  Enjoy my mid-morning snack of a half sandwich made with almond butter, agave nectar and whole wheat/whole grain bread.  Please keep in mind that “Smoked and salted nuts don’t make the cut (of The Abs Diet PowerFoods) because of their high sodium content.  High sodium can mean high blood pressure” (Zinczenko).  Obviously “honey-roasted” nuts or those coated with sugar don’t make the cut either; I adore pecan pie as much as anyone, but I save these treats for rare occasions.

I’m so happy God blessed my Mother’s Day with little Oscar and seeing nut groves for the first time in my life.  Now when I eat nuts, I think of God’s glorious creation… “I went down to the grove of nut trees to look at the new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom” (Song of Songs 6:11).  How grateful I am to have found the beauty of the flowering almond tree and the blessing of the nut!  “Thank You, God!”


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