Nuts are a delicious food to enjoy year-round, adding a richer taste to many of your favorite dishes. High in protein, fiber and essential minerals, nuts also contain healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that help fight inflammation.
Nuts are natural hunger-busters, but pay attention to your portion size. A snack of 10 to 12 peanuts, walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts clocks in at about 100 calories.
Toasting nuts brings out their flavor and improves their texture. Simply place a handful of nuts in a dry, small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook two to three minutes, transfer to a cutting board, and chop or use whole. You can also bake nuts in a preheated 350-degree oven for eight to 10 minutes. For hazelnuts and pistachios, transfer to a dry dish towel and rub the toasted nuts to remove their skins, which may be bitter.
Chopped or ground nuts are also a healthier alternative to breadcrumbs. Here's a tasty way to use them with fish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon in a baking dish, skin side down. Spread mustard over the surface of the salmon, then top with chopped nuts and spritz lightly with cooking spray. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and bake eight to 10 minutes or until the salmon is still pink in the center but no longer translucent.
Yield: 2 servings
The Linus Pauling Institute has more on the benefits of nuts plus a calorie chart to help you fit them into your diet.