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Answers to Four Common Nutty Questions

March 31, 2015 by Adrienne Ngai, Registered Dietitian

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How’s your nut knowledge? At Healthlink BC, my registered dietitian colleagues and I have been getting a lot of questions about nuts. Here are answers to four common nutty questions.

Are there nutritional differences in nuts prepared in different ways?

The nutritional value of raw, dry roasted, roasted (with no additional salt or sugar), ground, chopped, or sliced nuts are similar. Nuts are loaded with energy and nutrition. One serving is ¼ cup or the amount that fits into the palm of your hand. They provide healthy unsaturated fats, are a plant based source of protein and offer fibre, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. Learn more about the benefits of eating nuts.

What’s the best way to prepare nuts at home?

  • Dry roasting or baking nuts (with no additional ingredients) enhances their natural nutty flavour while making them crispy. It’s best to avoid overheating or reheating nuts prepared this way because they won’t last as long.
  • Roasting or baking nuts with oil, salt, and/or sugar adds extra flavour and can make nuts even crispier; just remember that a little oil goes a long way. Instead of using sugar and/or salt, why not try spices such as curry or chili for a zesty kick or herbs such as cinnamon, rosemary, cumin, or thyme.
  • Grinding, chopping, or slicing nuts is best done after the nuts have been roasted (if you choose to roast your nuts at all). Nuts can easily burn if they are cut into small pieces and then roasted. Add chopped nuts to yogurts and cereals, use as ‘breading’ meats, or toss in a salad.

What’s the best way to store nuts at home?

Nuts will last longer if you store them in the fridge or freezer. If you’re freezing nuts, place them in an airtight container or heavy duty freezer bag to keep them fresh.

Be aware that nuts can easily become rancid if exposed to heat, light and air. If this happens, you will notice grassy, burnt, or fishy flavours. If you suspect your nuts have gone bad, throw them out. Learn more about the shelf-life of nuts.

How are nut milks made and can I use this instead of cow’s milk?

Nut milks, like almond milk, are made by soaking nuts in water, then grinding them and straining off the solid bits. Thickeners, flavours, or sweeteners can be added to these milks during manufacturing. Compared to cow’s milk, they are lower in protein, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Because of the low protein content, nut milks do not count as a Food Guide serving of milk and alternatives. Nut milks should not be given to children as a milk substitute; however, they can be used as an ingredient in other foods.

Note: Unsweetened fortified soy beverage can replace cow’s milk for adults and children 2 year of age or older. The amount of protein, calcium, and vitamin D in a cup of fortified soy beverage and a cup of cow’s milk is the same.

Enjoy nuts more often. These plant based protein foods do count as a Food Guide serving of meat and alternatives. If you have further questions, dial 8-1-1 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm to speak with a HealthLink BC Registered Dietitian. This is a free service for British Columbians.


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