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Brazil Nuts (raw)
Macadamia Nuts (dry roasted unsalted)
Marcona Almonds (roasted and salted, can use other almonds, but these are my favorite)
Cashew Pieces (roasted and unsalted)
Walnuts (raw pieces)
Pecans (raw and unsalted pieces)
Sunflower Seeds (raw and unsalted)
Pumpkin Seeds (raw and unsalted)

In a medium size bowl, mix together all nuts and seeds, using 1/4 cup each. You can always add in a little more of what you enjoy most. Eat a handful as a snack for a quick protein energy boost.

You can also add in raw pepitas and pistachio nutmeats (dry roasted, unsalted halves & pieces).

Trader Joe’s has a wide variety of nuts and seeds at reasonable prices. I get my pumpkin seeds at Whole Foods.

The Story of Nuts:
Many people avoid nuts because they are high in calories and fat. Nuts are a great source of protein and do contain fat, but this is the type of fat you want in your diet. Nuts provide unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), delivering omega-3. Eating nuts can help lower the risk of heart disease. Nuts provide many vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. They contain fiber, vitamin E, selenium, folic acid, copper, magnesium, boron and the amino acid arginine, which boosts the immune system and lowers elevated blood pressure levels. The plant sterols in nuts help to reduce cholesterol absorption from fatty foods.  Some nuts, like pecans, walnuts and almonds, contain tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin, the happy feel-good hormone, which can help against depression. Here are a few of my favorites:

Almonds – this nut comes in many varieties and can be used in all sorts of recipes. Almonds are probably the most nutritious of nuts, delivering magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin E, zinc, and lots of protein.

Brazil Nuts – a provider of selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals that can attack healthy cells and increase the risk of heart disease and various forms of cancers, like breast, lung, bowel, and prostate. Rich in zinc and magnesium, Brazil Nuts are great for anti-aging.

Cashews – provider of a high iron content, as well as zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and are rich in protein and carbohydrates.

Macadamia Nuts – this nut has the highest level of monounsaturated fat (the good fat) over any other nut, but can lower harmful blood cholesterol.

Pistachios – you can buy the ‘nutmeats’ already removed from the shells, or in a shell, but then you have to work for the nut. Pistachios are high in iron, protein, fiber, and magnesium and make a delicious topping on roasted butternut squash.

Walnuts – this is the only nut high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid, so eating these after you consume fatty foods help disperse the saturated fats and lower triglycerides. Saturated fats come from animal protein and dairy products, so cut these out of your diet to be a true vegan.

You can consume from 1-2 oz of nuts per day. It is best to mix so you consume a variety and take advantage of the benefits each nut provides. Always look for nuts that are raw and unsalted. Store nuts in the refrigerator to keep fresh.  

Buy nut butters and seed butters (my favorite is Sunflower Seed Butter Trader Joe’s), but read ingredients to make sure you are buying unsaturated fats (mono and poly). The butters will have the oil separated, so you will need to stir to combine before each use. Some need to be refrigerated, so read the container.

Allergies can be an issue for some, so know what you cannot eat if you do have allergies. An allergy from nuts can result in a skin rash or hoarseness in the throat.

A mix of nuts makes a delicious and satisfying movie-going snack. For sweet and salty, I like to add in a few chocolate chip vegan morsels along with a couple of pretzels broken into pieces. Get creative!

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Omega-3 are essential fatty acids needed by the body. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 helps in brain function, growth and development of your body, including your retina and cell membranes. This fatty acid helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, inflammation, blood clotting, cholesterol, and improves artery flexibility. However, your body cannot manufacture them, so it is important to seek out food sources rich in omega-3. A few sources for omega-3 are plants and nut oils.  Consume walnuts, canola oil, hemp oil, Earth Balance with omega-3, tofu, soybeans and flaxseeds (grind up to use in smoothies and soups, or sprinkle on salads, cereal and dairy free ice cream). Flax is also rich in protein, lignans, potassium, magnesium and boron which is good for cancer prevention.

Daily recommended for vegan adults is 2.2-3.3 g, which you can easily get in 1 tsp of flaxseed oil (do not bake with this oil, use cold. OK to put on warm food. Keep refrigerated). Ifyou take a supplement, make sure it is free of animal and fish oils. Try this vegetarian and vegan brand made from marine plant sources. Order here

One of my favorite healthy dessert recipes is throwing together a scoop of Purely Decadent vanilla soy ice cream, a sprinkle of ground flax seed (omega-3, 6 & 9) and a sprinkle of salted sunflower seeds. Or, try the blueberry muffin recipe with ground flax seed.

Recommended reading listed here.