Nuts, Naan, Neeps and Noodles
This week we're on to the N's and there's a lot we can do with these four foods we've chosen for this weeks hightlighted ingredients.
Perhaps one of my favourite foods - simply because they are packed full of nutrients and are incredibly versatile. They are such a brilliant food because they feature just as well in sweet dishes as savoury and are a superb snack, they are highly nutritious and with them being a plant-based food can be eaten in many diets.
They might be high in fat, but they have an impressive number of health benefits.
What type of nuts are available?
There are almost an endless list of nuts; some more costly than others but the list includes almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecan nuts.
All of which are delicious. Nuts are often bought unshelled, but you can also commonly buy nuts like peanuts, walnuts, pistachio nuts still in their shell.
Fun fact: Peanuts are actually legumes like beans and peas but because their nutrition profile and characteristics are very similar to nuts, they're classed as a nut.
Why should I include nuts in my diet?
Nuts contain good levels of nutrients including selenium, Vitamin E and magnesium. They are high fat but low in carbohydrate making them a good food for those on lower carbohydrate diets.
They are loaded with antioxidants helping to fight free radicals which can lead to cell damage and have the potential to increase risk of disease.
Despite being loaded with fat, and considered a high calorie food, they have been proven to help promote weight loss rather than contribute to weight gain - almonds have consistently shown this in studies. That doesn't mean however, go and reach for a bag and eat the lot!
They have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is a way your body defends itself from injury, bacteria and other pathogens which could be harmful.
However, long-term inflammation known as chronic inflammation has the potential to damage organs and increase risk of disease. Nuts have been found to help reduce inflammation.
High in fibre.
Having a diet with high levels of fibre can help improve gut health and reduce your risk of obesity and diabetes. It also helps you to feel full. So it is an important addition to include in your diet.
Overall, nuts make an excellent addition to a balanced diet so see where you might be able to add them in to your everyday meal and snack times.
A few ideas are below:
A few nuts as a snack (try to go for the unsalted, unroasted nuts if possible).
Any sort of nut butter on a banana or apple.
Destone some dates, fill the middle with a nut butter and then dip in dark / milk / white chocolate and fridge.
Oatcakes and nut butter topped with
Pop some peanut butter on your porridge in the morning.
Toasted walnuts/hazelnuts - you can add these in to any sort of muesli or cereal
Top any salad, with some toasted nuts and seeds - just pop them in a heavy bottomed pan on the hob and watch them as they start to slowly turn golden brown.
Be careful though because of the fat content they burn quickly.
Quick Eats: A yummy satay sauce for veggies or chicken
Satay makes a lovely sauce to dip veggies or chicken in as nibbles or as part of a bigger meal and its super easy to make too.
Use this recipe from BBC Good Food to make a very simple sauce in 10 minutes.
That delicious squidgy, doughy addition that is an absolute must have with every curry.
The shop bought ones can be packed full of nasties including preservatives and they are incredibly simple to make at home and literally take under 10 minutes to make and doesn't need yeast! and best of all, you need two core ingredients!
Quick eats: Homemade Naan
225g self raising flour
130g Greek yoghurt (if you want to make it vegan you can always use coconut yoghurt)
Weigh the flour and yoghurt. Place in to a bowl big enough to get your hands in to. Add a sprinkling of salt and a little dash of olive oil.
Start by using a fork to mix the yoghurt in to the flour. Once you have it combined, you can then start to use your hands to bring it all together.
Keep needing until you have a soft, stretchy dough.
Split the dough in to four.
Add a little flour to the surface and roll out in to a 'naan like' shape - about a quarter of an inch thick.
Heat a heavy-based frying pan without adding any oil.
Place the naan in the pan and cook until lightly golden on one side. Then turn over.
They will puff slightly when they are cooked.
Brush with melted butter or olive oil on both sides when cooked and serve.
You can add whatever you feel like to the dough - garlic granules, coriander, nigella seeds, chilli flakes, ground coconut and raisins. Make it yours and have fun.
Neeps are short for turnips. Turnips often mistaken as a root vegetable, are actually related to the same family as brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli.
They are incredibly high in nutrients and very low-calorie which make them a brilliant food to add in to a healthy eating plan.
They're one of the world's most important vegetable crops as they feed both humans and animals.
Health benefits of turnips
They are packed full of vitamin C which is found in both the leaves and the 'root'
Vitamin C can help protect your body from
damage by free radicals which can take place when there are too many of these molecules in the body.
Vitamin C is also helpful for regulating blood cholesterol and improving absorption of iron in to the blood.
Turnips are also good sources of fat-
soluble vitamins such as vitamin K and A - these are the vitamins that are absorbed better by the body when eaten with fats.
Vitamin K is a clotting agent to help prevent excessive bleeding and vitamin A is beneficial for eye, skin and lung health.
Turnips have anti-cancer properties
Not only do turnips contain vitamin C which help with the growth of cancer cells, but it also they are also rich in plant compounds known as glucosinolates.
A higher intake of glucosinolates has been associated with a reduced risk of different types of cancer including lung, colon and rectal cancers.
Turnips help aid weight loss and digestion
Turnips have high levels of fibre - so they can help give that fuller for longer feeling. Eating high-fibre meals mean that it can help to keep blood sugar levels stable. They are also very low calorie.
s important for the digestive tract too because it is important to keep bowel movements regular. Regular bowel habits can help to remove toxins from our bodies through bile and stools.
Quick eats: Turnip mash
A great alternative to mashed potato is to make turnip mash.
Just as you would with mashed potatoes - peel your turnips, cut them in to chunks and boil them in water until soft and you can insert a knife easily.
Take them off the heat, drain the water, and then add salt and pepper, a little grating of nutmeg is delicious too and mash.
Serve as you would with mashed potato. You can also use them to top things like cottage pie too. Or even do a half /half of potato and turnip.
You can also add turnip in place of potato in things like stews and soups.
Noodles can be used for all sorts of dishes. They are a very quick and easy way to create a simple and tasty meal.
Noodles come in all types - rice, udon, soba, buckwheat, egg.
They are a cheap and brilliant way to bulk out soups or other dishes.
Quick eats: Pad Thai
Pad Thai is a delicious meal that's actually very easy and quick to make and can be bulked out with loads of veggies and made vegetarian or vegan very easily.
Noodles, nuts, egg, beansprouts, peppers, lime, chicken - lots of yummy sweet and savoury flavours which are all combined to make it a delicious mouth bite.
If you want a veggie version just swap in some paneer for chicken.
Try this easy pad thai recipe here.