October in a nutshell

Nuts OctoberIf you want to add one healthy small change to your lifestyle this October, can I suggest you include more nuts in your diet? Nuts may be high in calories, but they’re good calories with the fat content being of the unsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 variety. They are also high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Only two Brazil nuts a day will give you your daily dose of selenium, a mineral which is essential for good immunity (especially relevant with the cold and flu season coming up), while almonds are rich in vitamin E, hazelnuts in folate and walnuts are packed with heart healthy antioxidants.

There has been no shortage of research into the health benefits of nuts. The biggest health benefit of all is, of course, living longer, so I will quote just one study. A 2013 report from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study and Healthcare Professionals Follow-up Study, covering nearly 120,000 people showed that in 30 years of follow-up, those who ate nuts every day had a 20% lower mortality rate.

Including nuts in your diet couldn’t be easier ¬– just treat yourself to a handful (30g a day would be about right to enjoy the benefits) or use peanut butter on toast, slices of apple or celery or in a smoothie. In the following recipes, I’ve taken it a bit further by using nut milks, nut oils and I finish with the ‘ultimate’ nut burger.


Nutty pink smoothie

Serves one
One carton of raspberries or strawberries
One tsp matcha powder
One tbsp. linseed meal
One tsp. raw cacao powder
One tbsp. chia seeds
One tbsp. turmeric latte powder
One tbsp. nut butter
[the above list is my current mix of smoothie additives]

Add all the above to your blender or Nutribullet, then top up with hazelnut milk. Blend and drink immediately.


Autumn salad with walnut oil dressing

A friend gave me some cucumbers from her garden. So fresh and delicious, I made them the basis for a salad that contains nuts and uses a walnut oil dressing.

Serves two
Three carrots, shredded
One cucumber diced
Handful of nuts (I used flaked almonds)
One tbsp. mixed seeds
Two spring onions, finely chopped
One tbsp. walnut oil
One garlic clove
Sea salt
Lemon juice
One tsp mustard (I used horseradish mustard)

Mix all the salad ingredients. For the dressing, bash the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle to make a puree and then whisk in the lemon and oil. Dress and serve.

Vegan nut burgers

So lots of restaurants and pubs are doing vegan burgers now. I’ve never made a burger in my life, so I thought it was time to jump on this particular healthy bandwagon. These are dead simple – just nuts and red onion. No rice, chickpeas, spinach, halloumi…

Serves four
100g mixed nuts, ground to a coarse powder
Egg replacement _ one tbsp. flax seed meal whisked in three tbsp water and left till it forms a beaten egg-like gel
One red onion, finely chopped
Herbs and spices to flavour – I used cinnamon, chilli powder and freshly ground black pepper
Two tbps. tomato puree

Place the nuts, onion, herbs and spices into a bowl. Now, my big worry was that this mixture would not stick together with the vegan egg (of course, use a real egg if you prefer – I’m not vegan myself and this would have been fine). I added the tomato puree as well for a bit more moisture and the consistency was just right. Shape into patties and fry in coconut oil for about five minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time, which should leave both sides lightly browned. The mixture keeps well in the fridge (I had this over three days).

Now for the fun bit…building your burger. When eating out, I’ve found that even if the vege/vegan burger is good, the dish is let down by being wedged inside a plasticy, tasteless white bun. So try wrapping this in pitta bread, a decent fresh wholemeal roll or even toast…Obviously there are lots of things you can use as a base and topping for your burger. We had sliced avocado and tomato on the base and jalapenos and spicy mayo on the top.

Next months. November is seed time.

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