February is National Snack Food Month, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight the many virtues of snacking. Often maligned, snacks are an important part of a healthy eating plan. Research shows that most people consume 25% of their calories every day in the form of snacks. Of course, it’s important to choose snacks that are nutritious, such as nuts, fruit, vegetables, whole grain bread, cheese, and yogurt, to name a few. Not only do healthy snacks keep you satiated throughout the day and prevent going overboard at meals, snacks, such as tree nuts, are a great way to add vital nutrients to your diet.
Here are some ideas for nutty snacks!
- Simply a handful of nuts – whether it’s your favorite nut or mixed nuts, taking a bag of tree nuts to work or play is probably one of the easiest and healthiest snacks.
- Nut butter – on a cracker, in a celery stalk or under a slice of avocado, home-made nut butter will be sure to keep you going until dinner!
- Nut muffins can be whipped up in minutes and stored in the freezer to heat up as needed. You can add dried or fresh fruit, spices, and make them savory or sweet. Try these Pecan Banana Muffins, and feel free to switch out with your favorite tree nut and fruit!
- Nut-based cookies – the Italians have Amaretti, the Mexicans have their Wedding cookies, the Turkish use almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts for traditional cookies. You can easily make your own with nut meal or by grinding your own nuts. Here’s a Macadamia Shortbread, which can be made with any tree nut (i.e., walnuts and cardamom or pistachio and orange zest).
- Nut bars and bites – just put nuts, dried fruit and enough honey to bind together in a blender, and press into a lined-square pan or roll into balls and dust with coconut or seeds. Refrigerate and enjoy over the next few weeks! Here’s a recipe for some delicious Almond Bites that will keep you going on a hike or bike ride!
- Nut dips and crackers – just like hummus with chick peas, or guacamole, you can add nuts to any vegetable puree in a blender for dipping carrot, celery and zucchini sticks! Add fresh herbs, chili powder or Tabasco to spice it up! This Pine Nut and Avocado Pesto combines the best of both worlds!
- Smoothies – there’s nothing simpler than mixing fruit, greens, or vegetables with tree nuts in a blender with some water, milk or nut-milk alternative. Here’s one for cocktail time with Pistachios to end the day in style!
Want more ideas? We have an entire section on nutty snacks here!