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Go Nuts for a Healthy Weight!

This week is National Healthy Weight Week. Did you know that eating tree nuts may help you lose and maintain your body weight? In a recent study conducted at UCLA, overweight and obese men and women were given 1.5 ounces of tree nuts versus a pretzel snack. Both groups lost weight, but those who consumed tree nuts reported greater satiety and weight maintenance after six months. Tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber, all of which make them so satiating.

Recent research has shown that more than 40 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. During the past two years many Americans have gained weight while sheltering in place, partly due to less exercise and more snacking. Most people get about 25% of their calories each day from snacks and a large proportion come from desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and salty snacks. Replacing just one of those snacks with 1.5 ounces of tree nuts may result in a positive impact on weight and overall health.

Here are some ways to incorporate nuts into your day:

Start the day out right – Enjoying nuts with breakfast will keep you satiated longer, warding off those mid-morning munchies. Spread home-made nut butter on your toast, scatter raw nuts on oatmeal, or add to your smoothie for a lovely smooth thick texture and a drink that will keep you going until lunch time.

Give your salad some crunch – A spoonful or two of roasted chopped nuts over your salad takes it to a new level. Even simple mixed greens tossed with olive oil, lemon and nuts will fill a hungry void.

Make nut cookies – You can use nut butters to replace butter in cookies, and nut meal to replace some or all of the flour – think almond or hazelnut shortbread, pistachio biscotti or pecan walnut brownies.

Take a hike – We all know that what we eat only counts as part of maintaining a healthy weight. Next time you head out on a hike or bike ride, take a bag with 1½ ounces (or 1/3 cup) of tree nuts.

Long drive ahead? – Pack a bag of nuts and dried fruit to take on your next long commute or Sunday drive.  Thankfully, most gas stations have nuts in case you forget!

Smaller portions – Another lesson from many European countries is serving smaller portions and making the basis of your meals the plant portion – vegetables, salads, and whole grains. And you won’t grow hungry if you add a handful of nuts.

A meal of soup – When you add nuts, they not only thicken the soup and add a lovely depth but fill you up more too. Whether it’s squash, zucchini, tomato or mushroom, add an ounce of nuts to the soup before you blend it.

Here’s a recipe for a delicious Mediterranean soup using tree nuts:

Mediterranean Carrot Soup with Raisin Nut Agrodolce

Serves 4

In this recipe, the nuts add a silky thickness, so you don’t need to add anything else for a luscious creamy texture. 

  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon all spice
  • ½ ground coriander
  • ½ cup dense nuts such as almond, hazelnut, macadamia, Brazil or a mixture
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt, to serve

Raisin, Nut and Cumin Agrodolce

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 4 tablespoons nuts – pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts work great with these flavors


  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add fennel seeds and toast for 1 minute.  Add olive oil, garlic and spices and cook 1 minute, until aromatic.  Add nuts and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring, until nuts are aromatic but not browned.  Add carrot and stock and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until carrots are soft but haven’t lost their color.  Cool slightly, then place carrots in blender with half the liquid. Puree, adding remainder of liquid as you puree until desired consistency.  If it’s still too thick, add some more stock, wine, or for a creamy version, milk. 
  3. Season to taste and return to heat.
  4. To make Agrodolce: toast cumin seeds in a dry pan on medium heat until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add honey, stir to just melt, then stir in lemon, golden raisins and nuts. Remove from heat.

Spoon soup into bowls, top with a swirl of yogurt followed by Agrodolce.