By Naini Setalvad
Rejuvenate your body with essential fats by adding a few nuts and seeds to your diet
Now that it’s winter, we need to embrace a diet that is warming, rich, and at the same time, healing. Nothing fits the bill quite as much as nuts and seeds. Delicious they undoubtedly are, and none of us needs a second invitation to snack on them, but delightfully enough, they also have extremely beneficial properties. Provided, of course, that you exercise that sternest of virtues: moderation. Raw nuts and certain seeds are high in protein, and rich in essential fatty acids. They are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. Almonds were thought to have too much fat to be a healthy snack. But research has debunked that belief as an old myth. Almonds are among the foods best for the brain. They contain protein, iron, calcium, vitamins E and B2 (good for the skin and heart).
They are lower in calories than almonds and walnuts, whilst being high in protein and carbohydrate. They contain vitamin A, iron and are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They also happen to be rich in mono-unsaturated fat which help protect the heart, and are a good source of potassium, B vitamins and foliate. And if you are still looking for reasons to reach out for, arguably, the most delicious nuts in the world, here’s more: they contain magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and copper.
Mixed vegetable in cashew paste
500 gm mixed vegetables (French beans, potatoes, green peas, carrots, capsicum) finely chopped.
250 gm tomato puree
½ cup cashews
1 inch ginger
1 tsp olive oil
Rock salt to taste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
Boil all vegetables and keep aside. Make a paste of the onions, ginger and cashews. In one tsp oil, sauté the cashew paste and all the spices. Add tomato puree.
Add salt and vegetables. Cook well. Serve hot.
They are lower in fat than the other nuts. Rich in vitamin B6, they contain eight essential nutrients. Their antioxidant properties are high. One ounce of pistachios contains more antioxidants than one cup of green tea. They also happen to be the highest in phytosterol, and score high on fibre too. A handful of pistachios can lower blood lipid levels.
They make an excellent snack. Besides, you could also use them in gravies, pastes and pates. A mere 100 gm of pistachios contain 19.3 gm protein, 14 mg iron, 140 mg calcium. Iron assists in the process of respiration and energy, and increases red blood cells.
Paneer Pistachio Korma
500 gm paneer
100-150 gm unsalted pista nuts
3 green tomatoes
8 green chillies
3-4 tsps yoghurt
2 onions, chopped
2 x 2 cm chopped ginger
6-8 plump garlic cloves
¾ tsp white pepper
1 tsp garam masala powder
¼ tsp haldi
2 tsp saunf (fennel)
1 tsp cardamom
Coriander leaves to garnish
¼ cup water
Cut paneer. Boil pistas for 10 minutes in one cup of water. Remove from water, drain, cool and then rub off skin from pistas. Grind with 4-5 chillies.
Sauté onions lightly in water and then add ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric powder, cardamom, white pepper, fennel and fry for a few minutes. Now add the pista mixture.
Add paneer, sauté for five minutes. Then add tomato, yoghurt, chillies and salt. Add vegetable stock and cook till done.
Sprinkle with cardamom powder and coriander leaves before serving.
NB: Peshawari pistachios are best.
When it comes to their health benefits, walnuts come up aces. This delicious nut, apart from being a fantastic brain food, is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory benefits helpful in asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. They are also known to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and improve HDL (good) cholesterol.
Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E.
100 gm walnut
1 boiled potato
1 tsp mustard paste
1 tsp jaggery powder
½ -lemon juice
Blend the above with ¼ cup of water in a mixer, and use it as a delicious and healthy dressing.
Just the mere thought of hazelnut brings to mind a variety of fine dishes, especially chocolates. Still, its health benefits remain something of a secret.
Hazelnut is a very important nutritious food item in a well-balanced diet. It has several important health benefits in protecting against diseases. It is a known source for vitamin E, essential for healthy heart muscles, and other muscles of the body as well.
It is a rich source of dietary fibre, vitamin E, magnesium, and heart healthy B vitamins. It contains a variety of antioxidants that benefit the immune system, besides being a high quality store of protein and fibre. It is also necessary for normal functioning of the reproduction system. Thus it serves as a protection against deficiency of blood which is called anaemia. In sum, it happens to be a rich source of nutrients that have cardio protective benefits.
1 cup hazelnuts
2 tsp dry mint powder
½ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped ½ tsp chaat masala
1 tsp olive oil
Sauté the hazelnuts in olive oil. Add other ingredients. Mix well. Eat as a mid-meal snack.
As with nuts, seeds contain protein. Seeds should be roasted or cooked to destroy any unwanted substances present.
Sesame seeds are an important ingredient in the Middle East, where they are used to make sweets and a spread, tahini, and the dip hummus. Sesame adds a nutty flavor to exotic dishes. Sesame seeds promote wound healing.
They strengthen the heart, and the immune and nervous systems. Sesame seeds protect the body from free radicals. They are a key source of phytic acid, magnesium and calcium. Phytic acid could inhibit cancer, specifically of the colon.
Chatpate Tilwale Aloo
2 kg potatoes
100 gm whole til (sesame) seeds
3 tbsp red chilli powder/chilli flakes
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
3-4 green chillies (optional)
4-5 tbsp sesame oil
Boil potatoes. Peel and cut into cubes. Roast sesame seeds on a tawa. Keep aside. Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add the cubed potatoes, stir in salt, chilli powder or flakes, roasted sesame seeds, and lemon juice. Mix gently till potatoes are well coated. Serve hot or cold garnished with chopped coriander leaves.
Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
These are healthy mid-meal snacks that get rid of hunger at the same time not filling you up with unwanted calories.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. They are also a very good source of vitamin B1. In addition, sunflower seeds are a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B5 and folate. Sunflower oil is high in the essential vitamin E and low in saturated fat.
Whoever would have thought that there’s a world of goodness locked up in the humble pumpkin seed!
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They also contain minerals including zinc, iron and copper. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and vitamin K.
Toss them in salads and gain more health. They can also be eaten by themselves as a snack between meals.
Salad with Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
1 bunch lettuce
100 gm cherry tomatoes
1 tsp organic honey
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
2 tsp pumpkin seeds
1 tsp sunflower seeds
30 gm crumbled paneer
Chop lettuce leaves, cut cherry tomatoes into half, toss all ingredients together. Chill. Serve as an appetizer.
These have to be coarsely powdered before consuming, and can be added on salads and vegetable sandwiches. Unlike the others, flax seeds have no particular flavor, but what they lack in taste, they make up in benefits. Their fibre content helps in regulating bowels, and preventing constipation. The benefits of flax seeds are num-erous, and include constipation relief, clearing up acne, creating a smooth skin, assisting in building muscle, and burning fat. They’re good for heart health and they might even help with depression and arthritis. They lower blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, improve energy, vitality and stamina, help relieve stress, reduce threat of blood clots, protect against cancers, especially hormone sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate, regulate blood sugar levels, and ease inflammatory tissue conditions, including arthritis. Other benefits include helping dry skin, eczema and psoriasis, enhancing the immune system, increasing the metabolic rate, managing weight, and helping with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Keep the flax seeds refrigerated. Never heat flax seeds as that may cause a chemical breakdown in the seeds and it could be carcinogenic.
¼ cup flax seeds
2-3 pods garlic
1 bunch coriander, chopped
2 green chillies
Blend the above with a bit of water. Garnish with mint leaves.
Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist.
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