I have ambivalent feelings about nuts. The food item, I mean, not the crazy people. (Well, come to think of it, I have mixed feelings about them too, but that's a subject for another time.)
Of course any other health blogger writing about nuts would just be an enthusiastic cheerleader. Because we all got the "wait, nuts are really good for you" memo--right after the one that said "transfats will kill you," but before the "Vitamin D will cure everything from cancer to hangnails."
But I take that as a challenge. Sure, nuts are healthy, but if anyone can come up with a few whiny complaints to balance out all the positives, it would be Crabby McSlacker. After all, I'm the one who publicly dissed the most sacred woman-food of all: yogurt.
So Why Are Nuts so Freakin' Popular All of a Sudden?
You can't open a health or cooking magazine or even wander around CNN without reading about why you should be eating nuts on a regular basis.
And it's true: they're good for you. Besides the CNN thingy, you can also read more about nuts and nutrition here or here or here. (Oh wait, that's really crappy SEO keyword management. Sorry. Let's try that again: you can read all about nuts and their nutritional benefits, in these nut-related health research articles.)
But briefly, a few awesome things about nuts:
They can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and can help with weight management;
Nuts are low in sodium and sugar, and high in good fats, fiber, and protein; and
Nuts have tons of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
So What's My Problem With Nuts?
1. They get caught my throat and make cough.
Sneaky little devils. Ordinary water won't wash 'em down either. I have no idea what's up with that.
2. I'm apparently the only one who thinks they don't belong in certain foods.
Everyone else seems to love big chunky pieces of nuts in their brownies, cookies, and muffins. But I find them weirdly intrusive and spit them out.
3. Other times, they taste way too good and portion control is a huge problem.
Peanut or almond butter on toast, trail mix, or best/worst of all: any kind of nut snuggled up next to chocolate or caramel in candy... these are all more delicious than I can tolerate and I have very little self control once I start. Which brings me to the next issue...
4. Nuts have about a bazillion calories per (insanely generous) serving size.
It seems odd to me that nuts help with weight control; enough studies say they do that I've decided to take this on faith. However, I can not let myself actually count up and acknowledge the calories I'm consuming when I eat them, especially after fourteen handfuls of trail mix or my third slice of almond butter and honey toast. It's just too depressing to think about how many hours on the elliptical that "little snack" represents.
5. Nuts usually have too little or too much salt on them.
It's rare to find "lightly salted" nuts; they're usually either swimming in sodium or you have to buy them unsalted. But then if you're me, it's not worth the calories to have them unless there's at least a little salt on them so they taste good. This, unfortunately, means licking them and sprinkling a tiny bit of salt on the nuts and the rest all over the kitchen floor.
6. Oh, and occasionally nuts kill people.
I don't have nut allergies myself but more and more people seem to. And nut allergies are nothing to mess around with. I hate to think that the nuts meant for people like me might contaminate other's food supply.
Still not dissuaded from eating nuts? Me either!
Eat 'em by themselves, or they're great for adding texture and flavor to recipes. For example, there's a recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts over at Kaylyn's Kitchen, and at Simply Recipes you can find out how to make Snow Peas with Pine Nuts and Mint.
Want some more options? Here's a recipe from Leites Culinari for Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Cranberries. Or at Perfect Pantry, there's a helpful post on cooking with and storing nuts, which also features a recipe for Chocolate and Hazelnut Dipped Strawberries. Yumm.
Do you love nuts? Hate 'em? Fear 'em? Have some good recipes?