In the past, the advice was very simple; do not eat nuts when trying to lose weight. Today, there are conflicting thoughts about whether to add nuts to a calorie-restricted food plan or to use them in a limited way for snacking. Nuts do contain good fats that are monounsaturated fats. These are the proven fats for helping with our health. Nuts are also high in fiber and protein. The downside is that they are high in calories and a lot of people find them difficult to digest. A few are very allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. For anyone who is concerned about the affect nuts have on them physically, finding substitutes for nuts becomes crucial for them to reach their health goals.
These days it is generally recognized that nuts and seeds are high in nutrition and provide great healthy fats. These are the fats that help our hearts to be healthy and protect us against dry skin. There are problems in using nuts in the diet. One of the biggies is it is really easy to lose track of how many nuts are being consumed. No matter how good monounsaturated fats are for a person, they still pack in the calories. Some nut substitutes for snacking are carrots and celery. Celery and carrots provide the crunch and a touch of sweetness we get from eating nuts. Stuff the celery with a tablespoon of tahini and raisins. The tahini is made from sesame seeds and it is high in protein and minerals. It is high in fat. Because it takes a moment to put it into the celery, it limits the mindless eating that can happen with nuts. It is also not a tree nut so people with allergies can have it. Fat is not necessarily bad. It is the type and amount of fat consumed that can make a difference in weight loss goals.
Another place nuts are used is in pie crusts and sauces. Pesto sauces also often contain pine nuts. The problem with pine nuts is that not only are they expensive but they are very high in calories. Sometimes a good substitution for pine nuts is simply finding a way not to use them. Using something like olive oil, a touch of garlic, and lots of basil can lead to a simple but effective pesto. Leaving the pine nuts off reduces a lot of the calories found in this sauce. Pine nuts are also found in rice pilafs and added to many vegetable dishes. Using sunflower seeds can help reduce the calories in those dishes, adding the crunch pine nuts give to the dish. Pine nuts are good in limited quantities, but they do add a lot of calories to the meal plan.
A substitute for nuts often depends on the reason they are in the recipe. In some cases, they are used to add protein to the diet. Protein helps with the feeling of fullness and composes the basic building blocks of our bodies. Nuts also provide a source of fiber which is another reason they can add to a person’s feeling of satiety. Chick peas or lentils slow down the digestion of food, thus decreasing the drive to eat. Lentils are high in protein and fiber. They are great as a meal but they also can be used in veggie burgers. Many dishes call for pecans to add flavor to recipes. A possible substitute for pecans is roasted
pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds provide a taste that goes nicely with broccoli and other vegetable dishes. Roast them; add a little salt, and they become a great snack to eat on the run.
It is not hard to find substitutes for nuts in recipes. If someone is looking for a low fat diet and does not want to have nuts in their meal plan, there are many low calorie recipes out there. What to use as substitutes depends on the dish and the reasons they are being avoided. If it is to reduce the fat content then try the many seeds and vegetables that can provide the crunch and saltiness of nuts. If someone is allergic to nuts, look at avocadoes and fish for sources of protein. Nuts are not bad for dieters; in fact, they provide many of the necessary oils we need for our bodies. Be aware, they do encourage eating without thinking and there are other ways to control the amount of essential oils we need in our diet. Weight loss is an adventure in exploring new ways in thinking about eating. Try new grains and seeds for substitutes for nuts and see if they work. The winning combination of low calorie and satisfying food may be just a new taste away.