While our soil is so depleted and lacking the vitamins and minerals our body needs, we find ourselves turning to supplements to get the vitamins and minerals we are lacking in our diet. While I believe supplements and vitamins have their place, there is a lot that you can get from food. Here I’ll be focusing on the specific nutrients of some nuts and seeds that can fill in a lot of gaps that our diet may be missing.
The advantage to getting essential vitamins and minerals from food over supplements is that when you are eating the food with the nutrients, they are more bio-available for the body, meaning they come in a better package and are easier for your body to absorb and digest.
Time to get nuts on 6 types of nuts and seeds, they are all amazing, but we don’t have all day here 😛
And if you stick around, I’ve included 3 of my favourite seedy / nutty recipes below.
Brazil nuts are very pricey because they grow in the wild Amazon and all attempts to cultivate them outside of the Amazon have failed due to their unusual reproductive cycle. These little powerhouses are worth the purchase if you can because they are the most reliable source for Selenium, a critical mineral that prevents free radical damage and anti-inflammatory diseases. Just 2-3 brazil nuts/day would meet a daily requirement, but be careful not to eat too many of these, Selenium can be toxic in high doses.
These tasty little nuts provide an excellent source of B Vitamins (particularly B1, B3, B5, B6), which play a large role in hormone production, adrenal function and stress management. As well as Vitamin E, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. I love the sweet but subtle flavour of these beauties and their high fat content (the heart-healthy kind of fat; monounsaturated oleic acid) can also benefit anyone dealing with high cholesterol. Studies have shown that pecans can significantly lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol).
Almonds are my personal favourite nut. They are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E. These nuts have been known as an ‘anti-cancer’ food because of their high antioxidant flavonoids. In fact, they have been known to lower total cholesterol. Try to get these nuts raw, and unsalted, and you can even fry them up with some spices and salt if you’d prefer them salty. Almonds are so widely available these days, you can easily use almond flour for gluten-free baked goods, or almond butter in place of peanut butter.
It may just be a coincidence, but walnuts not only look like little brains, they are also extremely beneficial for brain health. The reason being, their high Omega 3 content. If you are eating a plant based diet and not consuming fish regularly (our main source of health Omega 3 fats), then make sure to get plenty of walnuts into your diet. Some other benefits of eating this ‘brain food’ is; high levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, manganese, copper, magnesium, as well as a rich source of protein.
These little seeds (aka pepitas) are an excellent source for Magnesium. They are also very high is essential fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin A and some B vitamins, as well as containing some protein. Magnesium is such a critical nutrient and helps your body and muscles relax, which is why it is such a great mineral to take before bed. But if you are opting out of supplements, have a handful of these seeds before bed to have a similar effect, but also get the benefits of some fatty acids before bed which can also really support stable blood sugar and an undisturbed sleep.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of the Omega-3 essential fatty acid (ALA) as well as being a great source of fiber, magnesium, potassium and manganese, phosphorus, iron and copper. I like to grind my flaxseeds in my coffee grinder and use in baked goods, or to add to oatmeal or my favourite protein balls. It is better to buy these seeds whole and grind yourself versus buying them pre-ground because they do go rancid quickly, so if you buy pre-ground, make sure to use within a month and store in the fridge.
1) Almond Milk
I recently jumped on the make your own nut milk bandwagon, and I don’t know why it took me this long. It is so super easy, super delicious, and you avoid all the added preservatives that the store-bought varieties have. My favourite way to us this is in my coffee and tea, and I love having a cold (or warm) glass of it before bed.
1 cup almonds
4 cups water
2-4 dates* (depending on desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp – 1 tsp cinnamon* (can add to desired taste)
*Can omit for an unsweetened, unflavoured batch.
- Soak cup of almonds in water over night (or soak for 2-3 hours in hot water)
- Drain water from almonds, add almonds to high speed blender with cups water, dates, cinnamon. Blend for 2 minutes on high.
- Pour blender contents onto a thin tea towel (I use an old cotton T-Shirt) over a large jar or bowl to strain out the pulp. Squeeze until all the liquid is removed from pulp.
- Keep the pulp to turn into almond meal (to use in my next recipe)
- Pour milk into jar and store in fridge. Use within 3-5 days.
*For added nutrients, add 3-4 brazil nuts into this blend and reap the benefits of these little powerhouses!
2) Paleo Pumpkin Muffins
I’ve been on a candida cleanse (similar to the paleo diet) lately and not being able to eat any grains and starches I found that I was really missing baked goods, especially this time of year. These muffins are my new favourite, and are super high in protein, (especially with the collagen powder) and 1/2 of my kids like to eat them as well, so that’s a huge bonus!
4 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 3 tsp allspice
6 heaping tbsp collagen powder (optional)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup coconut oil (I used 1/4 coconut 1/4 olive oil)
4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk almond flour, collagen powder, salt, baking soda and spices.
- Add in coconut oil, maple syrup or honey, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes (Switch top and bottom rack 1/2 way)
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
3) Protein Balls
These little guys are my absolute fave – I make sure to have some sort of protein ball on hand for any sweet cravings or quick fat / fiber / protein rich snack (read here why that is so important).
2 cups oats ground*
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds ground*
1/2 cup flax seeds ground*
1/2 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup cocoa powder (this will achieve a dark chocolate flavour, feel free to add less)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 cups nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew)
3/4 cup pureed dates (soak for a few hours until just covered, then blend water and dates together)
1/2 cup coconut cream (place canned coconut milk into fridge, and use hardened cream at top of can)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup Goji berries (soaked, drained, then chopped)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (may not need with dates, depends on how sweet you like it)
- Mix all dry ingredients together, then add wet ingredients until fully mixed.
- Roll into balls
- Put in container and refrigerate (I froze half my batch to save for later)
*Use food processor or blender to blend until fine. I used my Vitamix with a dry blade.
-If mixture is too dry once mixed, add more nut butter or maple syrup. If too wet, add more oat or flax seed flour. I like to err on the wet side for ease in rolling.
-This recipe makes a LOT, which is why I freeze half the batch for later.
Thanks for reading! What are your favourite nut and seed containing recipes? OR do you like to eat them on their own? Comment below if you’re feeling it 🙂