Another good reason for the peanut butter: nuts are an important part of the vegetarian diet because they are a good source of healthy fats as well as protein. Yes, percentage wise it has more fat than protein, but this is a good kind of fat! I remember a very confusing encounter with my Medical Nutrition Therapy teacher where she scolded me for putting walnuts on the salad in the menu I had created. “Nuts are just fat!” she insisted. She must be from the generation that thought fat was the enemy and must be avoided at all costs. My generation thought carbs were the enemy! I suppose my children will believe that protein is making us all fat!
So why are nuts so good for you? The fat in nuts is unsaturated (unlike the fat found in meat which is saturated), namely mono-unsaturated, and this is good for lowering your LDL cholesterol (this is the bad kind of cholesterol). In addition, nuts contain trace minerals that the body needs including potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, thiamin, copper and calcium. Just a handful of nuts a day will do the trick, and it doesn’t hurt to broaden your horizons and eat something other than peanuts. Try pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, or Brazil nuts. Each nut has its own unique nutritional profile, so variety is key.
I add walnuts or pecans to my oatmeal in the morning, or sprinkle some sliced almonds into my yogurt. I hated nuts with a passion when I was a kid, but I had a lot of fun collecting pecans from everyone’s yard when I lived on Dyess Air force Base in Abilene, TX. My friends and I would gather them up and then give them to a lady who liked to make pie with them. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want a pie made of grody pecans when you could have one filled with apples and cinnamon! Of course now I am older, a little wiser (only a little) and couldn’t imagine a world without nuts. This doesn’t count crazy people, which the world could certainly use less of.
Let us not forget seeds. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds just to name a few. They are also good sources of healthy fats, vitamin E, and minerals. Pine nuts! The best thing to add to pesto pasta! Just toast them a little on the stovetop in a dry pan beforehand to bring out the flavor. Do a little exploring and see if there are ways that you can add nuts and seeds to your meals, you’d be doing your heart a big favor!
A Link to the International Tree Nut Council:
|This squirrel's got the idea!|
Photo by Greg's One @Flikr.com