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Nuts are one of the top 10 foods for women.

Eat right and lose weight with the FoodFit Plan.

Tips and Techniques

Nuts

Pass the nuts. After falling out of fashion because they're fatty, nuts are getting a second look. While it's true that they're high in fat, it's mainly the good-for-you kind, so just remember to keep your portions small. Nuts can add crunch to a green salad, pizzazz to a pasta dish and flavor to baked goods.

Nuts are full of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower your cholesterol, and polyunsaturated fats, which can help prevent heart disease. Plus, nuts are a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, folate, vitamin E and vitamin A.

Balancing Act

Before you go nuts, the American Dietetic Association, one of FoodFit.com's resource associations, reminds us that the key to making nuts part of a healthy diet is to balance the fat they have with lower fat foods.

That means if you sprinkle nuts on top of your pasta, leave off the cheese. Or if you're tossing nuts into a salad, choose fat-free dressings and add smaller amounts of meat, fish or poultry. If you're a snack type, take a set portion to enjoy—you can easily overeat scooping nuts by the handful from a bag or jar. Stretch out the snack by mixing the nuts with dried fruit.

Nutty Nuggets

  • Because they're full of oil, nuts go rancid easily. It's best to store them in your refrigerator or freezer. You can tell if nuts are rancid when they have a faint, fishy odor.
  • One tablespoon of nuts has about 80 to 100 calories and one to three grams of protein. Make a little go a long way by using chopped nuts.
  • Toasting nuts really enhances their flavor. It's worth the extra step before you add them to any dish. Check out our recipe for Toasted Nuts for cooking pointers.
  • Many nuts—pecans, pine nuts and walnuts to name a few—are considered aphrodisiacs.

Meet Some of the Family

Almonds have been eaten for centuries, in fact they are mentioned in the Old Testament. Today, most of the world's supply is grown in California. With their mild flavor, almonds have a place in both sweet and savory dishes from tarts to stir fries.
Fresh Strawberry Almond Tart
Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

Hazelnuts, also known as Filberts, are grown in the Pacific Northwest but the bulk of the crop comes from Europe and Turkey. Hazelnuts are a dessert favorite. To remove their bitter brown skin, bake until the skin cracks then rub the warm hazelnuts with a rough cloth or between your hands.

Pecans are a true southern belle. They're the only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America—a lot of the varieties are named after American Indian tribes. Pecans are the fattiest nut. They have rich, buttery flavor that's delicious in baked goods but can hold up in entrees too.
Barbecued Pork Chops with Pecans, Sweet Potato, Sautéed Green Beans, Mushrooms and Onions
Pecan Shortbread Tea Cookies

Peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut. Half the U.S. crop is used to make that child (and adult) favorite, peanut butter.
Peanut-Noodle Salad with Carrots and Peas
Jody Adams. Rialto, Boston, MA

Pine Nuts come from pine cones, which are heated to extract the nuts, hence the hefty price tag at the market. They are grown in the Southwestern United States, China, Mexico, Italy and North Africa. Their culinary range reflects their geography—pine nuts are fabulous in everything from pesto to couscous to stir fries to sweet desserts.
Sautéed Spinach with Pine Nuts
Tagliarini with Smooshed Broccoli, Toasted Pine Nuts and Pecorino

Walnuts grow world round and are a welcome addition to most dishes. Make walnuts the last ingredient when you're baking. They're sensitive to the chemical reactions that can occur in baking—i.e. when you add baking powder—and may change color.
Greens with Apples, Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Red Beans with Walnut Sauce
Wild Rice with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

 

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