Everything is a little unusual this Christmas. I have not done any Christmas cards (yet). We will be celebrating early with part of our family on December 17th (including one of our 3 grandchildren), and late with part of our family – because Ben plays hockey on the 24th and 25th. (It’s always about hockey).
But, and this is very unusual, I am starting my New Years’ Resolutions early. My most recent inspiration is to start making our own nut mixes. The most challenging part of our healthy eating plan is snacking. Don’t get me wrong; we aren’t huge snackers. I happen to believe in eating fewer meals, not more. In my experience, the best way to lose weight and increase health is to eat less, not more, often.
That being said, there are times when Ryan and I rely on snacks. Our most frequent snack consumption times occur while we are travelling, on the airplane, and when driving, especially late at night. And our go-to snack is nuts. We try to find a grocery store as soon as we reach our destination to buy glass-bottled water (don’t get me started on plastic)! And of course, nuts.
The preliminary problem with buying nuts in the grocery store is the harmful oil used to roast the nuts. And often, we don’t actually know what the oil is. Don’t you hate it when the ingredient list says: canola, palm or soybean oil, or worse, vegetable oil? How is that even legal anyway?
Generally speaking, unless canola oil is organic, it likely contains inordinate quantities of Glyphosate, which I avoid like the plague. Soy oil, often heavily sprayed with glyphosate and, like canola oil, usually genetically modified, is also extremely unhealthy. (Soy should only be consumed when it has been fermented, as in tofu, tempeh etc. and never, ever, ever as protein, or oil). We all know by now that trans fats are a giant no-no, so anything hydrogenated is definitely off limits. All in all, it is best to buy nuts that have been dry roasted. Oh yes, but check the ingredients anyway, because I have actually seen dry-roasted on the front of the label with an unhealthy oil in the actual ingredient list. This means they have added it after roasting – go figure!
The healthiest way to consume nuts is raw, sprouted, and best of all, soaked to remove the phytic acid, then dehydrated. I am the first to admit that I have never done this, and in any case, an oven is seldom available on the road. Beyond that, we usually crave crunch and saltiness when we crave a snack, and believe that roasted nuts remain the healthiest choice. So I painstakingly read ingredient lists while my dear husband exercises his patience muscle, and we still often come up short.
Bravo California, once again! I found shelled, dry roasted, sea-salted pistachios and shelled, dry roasted, sea-salted macadamias at a local grocery store on our current trip. I bought both. Then I started reading about the virtues of pumpkin seeds (not for the first time), and a light went off. We are going to create our own nut mixes going forward in 2017. Pistachios with pumpkin seeds for Ryan, and macadamias with pumpkin seeds for me, with maybe some pecans thrown in.
Ryan has sensitivities to peanuts, almonds, and cashews, and dislikes macadamias (can you imagine?). I don’t prefer almonds, cashews, and peanuts, and they are much higher in carbohydrate than pistachios and macadamias. What, then, are we doing eating them?
While I still intend to try soaking, roasting, and maybe even sprouting my own at some point, in the mean time, I am excited about creating our custom mixes. I have listed, below, some of the benefits we are going to receive, with none of harmful oils, iodized salt, and even sugar and artificial flavours that are in many of the nut mixes on the market.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:
- high in Magnesium (vital to approximately 300 body functions, including creating ATP - the energy molecules in your body, making RNA and DNA, the heart of each of your cells, regulating your heart beat and often given in emergency rooms to heart patients, aiding sleep and relaxation, creating healthy bones, lowering blood pressure. 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium and athletes, those who consume alcohol, take blood pressure medicine, or need help maintaining healthy blood sugar, need extra)
- contain Tryptophan (precurser used to make the neurotransmitter serotonin which reduces depression and anxiety and generally makes us feel good, and precurser used to produce melatonin which helps us sleep and improves our circadian rhythms)
-contain Zinc (benefits immune system, important nutrient for brain and mood, aids healthy cell growth and division, speeds healing of wounds, helps to regulate blood sugar, and appetite, is vital to males for healthy sperm and testosterone production, and beneficial for prostate health and helps prevent BPH, or enlarged prostate, contains plant-based omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ALA which increases HDL, the good cholesterol and lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol, and reduces overall cholesterol, decreases blood pressure
-contain Potassium (improves erectile function, improves blood pressure)
-contain Fibre (helps control blood sugar, reduce heart disease, reduce stroke, increase weight loss, improve Skin health, reduce Diverticulitis, reduce Hemorrhoids, reduce Irritable bowel syndrome , reduce Gallstones and kidney stones
Benefits of Pistachios:
-contain Potassium (more than any other nuts, see above for benefits)
-contain Vitamin K (also more than any other nuts, which prevents hardening of arteries, helps prevent osteoporosis, protects against cancer, improves insulin sensitivity, may protect against Alzheimers)
-contain L-arginine (increases nitric oxide production which improves artery health and improves sexual function)
-contain Vitamin E (balances Cholesterol, Fights Free Radicals, Repairs Damaged Skin, Thickens Hair, Balances Hormones, Reduces PMS, Improves Vision, decrease risk of dementia, Improves Physical Endurance and Muscle Strength
-contain Fibre (see above for benefits
-maintain healthy glucose levels
- contain Phytosterols (may decrease the risk of heart disease, reduce allergies)
- contain Potassium (see above for benefits)
- contain Vitamin B6, Thiamin
- contain Copper
- contain Manganese
- contain Lutein (widely studied and shown to support eye health)
Benefits of Macadamia nuts:
-contain Fibre (see above)
-contain Phytosterols (see above)
- contain Mono-unsaturated Fatty Acids (help lower total as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol)
-high in Oleic acid and Omega-9 Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (Clinical trials and studies demonstrated that the fatty acid profile of macadamia nuts beneficially affect serum lipids/lipoproteins, resulting in a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease)
-Low in saturated fat
-low in Omega 6 Fatty Acid (the lowest of all nuts)
- contain Iron
- contain a high amount of Magnesium
- contain Manganese
-contian Selenium ( cardio-protective micro-mineral and an important anti-oxidant cofactor for glutathione peroxidase enzyme)
-rich in many important B-complex vitamins, including a high amount of Vitamin B1
-contain Vitamin E (see above)
-help improve blood lipid profiles
Next week in Japan, I will be on the lookout for macadamia oil-infused soaps, shampoos, and sunscreens, which are apparently prevalent in that country (perhaps because of its proximity to Australia, where Macadamia trees originate). And to come full circle, that is where we are headed for Christmas – to see our oldest son play hockey, visit our daughter who is teaching there, our daughter-in-law who is blogging there, and most important of all – our other 2 grandchildren. God Bless them, every one!
Ebeling, Cat, Pumpkin Seeds – Nature’s Forgotten Superfood
Mercola, J. (September 2013). 9 health benefits of pumpkin seeds. Retrieved from
Protein-source tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for social anxiety disorder: a pilot study Craig Hudson,ab Susan Hudson,b Joan MacKenziec October 2007
Dr Sighi Drassinower, “Pumpkin Seed Oil, a remedy for BPH”, www.drsighi.com/php/showatricles.php?nid=21&type=, 30-Nov-2008
Klippel KF, Hiltl DM, Schipp B, “A multicentric, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol (phytosterol) for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. German BPH-Phyto Study group.”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9313662?dopt=Abstract , 1997 Sep, PMID: 9313662 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE], Department of Urology, Allgemeines Krankenhaus Celle, Academic Hospital, Germany