By: Samantha Boucher, CSUN Dietetic Intern
Nuts seem to be taking over the food world, with mountains of evidence supporting their health benefits. We’re seeing everything from nut butters to nut “milks” pop up on the shelves at our local grocery stores.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the health claim that states “eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” The types of nuts included in this health claim are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and walnuts. Nuts are packed with nutrition; they contain high amounts of unsaturated fats (the good fats), protein, fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, vitamin B6 and I could go on, but you get the point.
Although nuts are full of important nutrients, they are still high in calories and fat, which could be a concern for weight gain. Nuts should be consumed as part of an overall healthy diet. Using nuts as a replacement for other common snack foods such as chips, crackers, and candy has shown to aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
There are endless ways to include nuts within your diet. If you like it plain and simple, just grab a handful and take them on the go. You can also add them to your yogurt, cook them with your vegetables, spread some nut butter on your toast, or even bake them into bread or muffins. Check out the recipe below for a quick and easy snack you can make ahead of time and eat on the go! They’re filling and packed with protein!
Nut Butter Protein Balls
- 1 cup almond, peanut or nut butter of your choice
- 1 cup crispy rice cereal
- ½ cup agave syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 scoops of vanilla protein powder (1 scoop = 1/3 cup of powder)
- 1 cup coconut shavings
- Mix together the nut butter, agave, lemon juice, and protein powder in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the crispy rice cereal to the mixing bowl and stir until well combined with the other ingredients.
- Using your hands, roll the mixture into little balls and coat with the coconut shavings.
- Place coated protein balls on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Then keep cool in the refrigerator.
- They are ready to eat right away! Once they have cooled for approximately 6 hours, you can move them from the sheet pan into a bowl in the fridge to save some space.
Tip from Samantha: This recipe is the one my family enjoys but there are so many ways you can make it your own. You can try switching out vanilla protein powder for chocolate or peanut butter to give it a different flavor. You can also add fiber powder if you feel like you don’t get enough from your diet. Lastly, you can coat them in whatever you’d prefer, I personally enjoy crushed nuts.
Resources on CSUN Campus
In a nutshell… (get it?), it’s extremely easy to include nuts within your everyday diet. Try packing nuts with you or purchasing some from the Mercado on campus. Eating nuts as a snack can help kick the craving for high fat foods and point you in the right direction for healthy food choices as the day goes on.
“Summary of Qualified Health Claims Subject to Enforcement Discretion.” The Food and Drug Administration Accessed January 4th, 2018.
Wardlaw, Gordon M., and Carol Byrd-Bredbenner. Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition. 8th ed., International student ed. Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill, 2009.