The mild buttery flavour and a soft crunch gives Macadamia nuts a top spot in cookies, cakes and salads. Paired with white chocolate and raspberries they add a super indulgent deliciousness to sweet treats.
These native Australian nuts have an unusual and unique nutritional profile. A 30g serve, provides our total daily requirement for vitamin B1 (Thiamine), a fair amount of B6 (pyridoxine), and about 20% of our daily requirement for iron and fibre.
The unusual feature of the Macadamia nut is the quantity of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that form a key part of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. Like olive oil and avocados, Macadamia nuts are particularly rich in the MUFAs palmitoleic and oleic acids. These fatty acids are thought to promote a healthy lipid profile by reducing levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol whilst maintaining levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. They may also improve blood vessel function and insulin sensitivity.
Macadamia nuts are best stored in the fridge or freezer, these precious fatty acids are prone to oxidation (going rancid).
Plenty of MUFAs means plenty of calories. The Mayo Clinic advises that we should eat MUFA rich foods instead of other fatty foods, not in addition to them. They are excellent for people with low appetite who need energy dense snacks, but for most of us, it’s Macadamia nuts in our salad or avocado, but not both! Here’s a link to the delicious salad pictured below Baby spinach, orange and macadamia salad
It’s Shrove Tuesday, a great excuse for yummy pancakes and they are pretty healthy. Those winter Olympic athletes could be having them for breakfast with bananas to get a low fat, high carb plus protein start to the day. Here’s our delicious recipe to try with coconut flour which is gluten free, perfect for those of us who are gluten intolerant or sensitive or who just like the coconut flavour for something different.
½ cup (20g) coconut flour
¾ cup (95g) gluten-free plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 cup (240ml) milk
Small handful of blueberries
Dollop of crème fraiche
Sieve dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Whisk 1 egg with milk and add to flours. Mix well. Spoon dollops of batter into buttered hot frying pan. Spread a little, turn after a few minutes. Serve warm with blueberries and crème fraiche.
Enjoy for breakfast or a delicious dessert or snack.
Tastiness isn’t always our first concern with pumpkins.
Ornamental appearance such as quirky shapes, nobbliness or shear size are often the feature most apparent in a pumpkin.
As we approach Halloween, ease of carving scary faces is vital. Howden pumpkins are the best for carving and were developed by John Howden in his backyard garden in Massachusetts in the 1960s. They have become the classic jack-o’-lantern pumpkin. These are the pumpkins that you most often see offered for sale in stores. The fruit is deep orange and ribbed and can weigh up to 30 pounds.
Bland flavour, fibrous flesh and tough outer skins are off-putting and the requirement for sweetness has dominated mass pumpkin production. However cooks and vegetable growers have long enjoyed the huge range of flavoursome pumpkin varieties.
There are so many varieties as seen by the images above including the brilliant orange Uchiki kuri, the green Buttercup and the sweet and nutty Butternut pumpkin. All delicious and versatile in soups, scones or roasted.
Being 92% water, pumpkins will never get labelled as super foods, but they do have a few useful qualities. That bright orange flesh is a clue to the carotenoids present, a 100g portion of pumpkin provides almost twice our daily requirement for vitamin A. They have a little vitamin C and folate, but not much protein, so we need to add other ingredients with extra nourishment to our pumpkin recipes.
However – the seeds are a different story. A rounded tablespoon of whole roasted pumpkin seeds has about 5g protein, 5g dietary fibre and a little iron. A generous sprinkling of the seeds over our pumpkin salad or scones will make a big impact on the nutritional quality.
Eaten Spanish style with cheese and honey is divine, in homemade cake or banana loaf is scrumptious, tossed in a salad or over breakfast cereal is a treat. The flavour is fabulous and the soft crunch under the teeth gives a brilliant texture.
Healthy Walnut Research
The University of Barcelona has been working on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for years. The inclusion of a 30g daily serve of tree nuts, – mostly walnuts, with almonds and hazelnuts too, produced a massive 30% reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
What’s good in Walnuts?
Lots of poly and mono unsaturated fats – and to stop these fats going rancid, there are lots of antioxidants – all wrapped up in a crunchy fibrous structure.
Fats come with calories, it’s not surprising that 100g walnuts have 654 kcal – our Spanish friends recommend a modest 30g per day. Walnuts are 15% protein, 7% dietary fibre – a smattering of iron, calcium and selenium with bits of the antioxidant vitamins E and A, and some B vitamins folate and niacin. The high protein value means that a small serve of walnuts provides a big feeling of satiety. This comes with very little sodium and low carbohydrate.
The fancy chemicals are the flavanols, the anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins. These guys are the antioxidants associated with protecting us from heart disease and stroke.
Walnuts also contain a little choline which is showing promise in research on the prevention of cognitive decline in old age.
Storage – keep cool. All nuts are high in fats, to avoid them getting bitter and rancid we need to eat them promptly or keep them cool – and check the ‘eat-by’ dates when we buy them.
There’s lots more interesting info on walnuts, here’s a taster !
We love the tastiness and effortless preparation. Here are five extra nutritious reasons to eat avocados.
Alpha-linolenic acid – an essential fatty acid that we use to synthesize omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is plant based, can’t be synthesized by humans and is thought to have a role in reducing inflammation.
Oleic acid – a mono unsaturated fatty acid and like alpha-linolenic, a key component of the Mediterranean Diet. These fatty acids are associated the prevention and treatment of heart disease and a reduced risk of breast cancer.
Dietary Fibre – 100g of avocado has 7g dietary fibre which is close to 30% of our recommended daily intake. There is a mixture of soluble and tougher fibre types, all good for feeding bugs in our digestion and keeping bowl contents happily moving along.
Beta-sitosterol – one of the phytosterols similar to cholesterol which help reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.
The cardiovascular/blood sugar dream – no sodium, very low carbohydrate and cholesterol free. We all need healthy levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
A regular portion of avocado also contains a smattering of B vitamins, a little vitamin E and protein. Unlike most vegetables it is fairly high in calories, around 170Kcal per 100g (1 avocado, no skin or stone = about 135g).
A Mediterranean type diet gives us the best chance of keeping healthy throughout our lives. We need very little meat and processed foods, some oily fish, lots of vegetables, whole grains and nuts, fruit and olive oil. Avocados are a perfect fit.
Read more about the health benefits of avocado here.