I found it interesting that February has two holidays devoted to celebrating nuts. That’s kind of nutty, right?! February 16 is Almond Day and February 26 is Pistachio Day. Both of these nuts are some of my personal favorites.
Nuts can be part of a healthy diet. Nuts contain monounsaturated fats, which are healthy fats that can help lower cholesterol. Nuts also contain Omega-3 fatty acids that are instrumental to heart health. Vitamin E is usually found in nuts. Vitamin E is rich in antioxidants, which are also instrumental in heart health by preventing the development of plaque in your arteries. Nuts contain fiber. Although fiber isn’t technically considered a nutrient, it has many important roles in the body including lowering cholesterol, making you feel full, and keeping things in your digestive tract moving. Nuts are cholesterol-free since they come from a plant.
In MyPlate, nuts can count toward your daily recommendation for protein. A one ounce equivalent of protein is equal to ½ ounce of nuts (which could be 12 almonds or 24 pistachios). This amount of nuts typically fits in the palm of your hand. When it comes to nut butters (like peanut butter or almond butter), one tablespoon is equal to a one ounce equivalent of protein. Most adults should aim to get 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein equivalents in a day. Having nuts as a snack or adding them to some of your favorite dishes can help you get the recommended amount of protein each day—all while providing several important nutrients. Even though nuts contain healthy fats, they are still fats; therefore, nuts should be consumed in moderation. Choose unsalted nuts, and limit consuming nuts that are covered in chocolate or yogurt.
Let’s talk a little more about these two delicious nuts that we are celebrating this month!
- Almonds are grown on trees. Almonds grow in a shell, which splits open in July and early August. The almond dries for a while before being harvested in the fall. The shell is later removed. You can buy almonds in several different forms including whole, sliced, flaked, slivered, halved, diced, chopped, meal, or flour. Additionally, you can purchase almond milk, almond paste, almond butter, or almond oil.
- I sometimes make my own almond butter. It is pretty simple to make and tastes delicious!
- Recipe: Place 1 cup toasted almonds in the food processor. Process on high until almonds start balling up. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Drizzle 1-2 teaspoons olive oil over the almonds and continue to process on high until smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- This nut is green! Pistachios are grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. After pistachios are harvested, they are cleaned, sorted, and roasted. To pick the tastiest pistachio, look for ones with the shells cracked open. Pistachios with open shells are mature and will taste better than those with closed shells.
- Are any of these pistachio recipes appealing?
Go ahead and get a little nutty this month by trying one of these nuts or adding them to some of your favorite foods. Don’t worry…it’s okay to be a nut sometimes!