Spicy Pecans and WalnutsMarch 30, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
There are many road blocks to achieving successful weight loss and long term weight maintenance. Chief among them is a lack of culinary creativity and access to a wide variety of diet-friendly foods. When you read the final part of that last sentence, certain unexciting foods probably came to mind such as carrot and celery sticks or, perhaps, the much dreaded rice cakes. That’s not my idea of an ideal snack if you’re looking to shed excess pounds or maintain a healthy weight.
When you’re trying to stick to any new diet I think you have take into account all of your senses. You want to provide your eyes, mouth, nose and stomach with sensations that will genuinely satisfy your entire body and mind. This usually means cranking up the flavor profile while simultaneously keeping in mind the appearance and texture of the food in question. That’s what I’ve attempted to do with this week’s recipe.
Spicy Thyme Pecans & Walnuts
1 cup halved raw pecans
1 cup halved raw walnuts
1 oz of sugar-free maple flavored syrup by Nature’s Hollow
1 tbs of olive oil
1 tsp dry thyme (crushed)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp of NutraSalt (potassium-rich sea salt)
Nutritional Facts: Calories: 180. Fat: 18 grams. Protein: 3 grams. Carbohydrates: 4 grams (2 grams of “Effective Carbohydrates”) Based on 10 servings per batch. After subtracting the fiber from the nuts and the xylitol from the maple syrup.
Pre-heat the oven to 350º F. Combine the dry ingredients and the liquids together in a large bowl. Add the nuts and fold them into the wet mixture until evenly coated. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pour the wet pecan and walnut mixture in a single layer on the parchment paper. Sprinkle nuts with some additional salt if desired. Place the prepped nuts into the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container. Consume within one week. This last part shouldn’t be a problem. They rarely last very long in our household.
I chose pecans and walnuts as the featured nuts in this recipe because they happen to contain a significant amount of a class of phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins. This is a similar variety of antioxidants as those found in red wine and pine bark extract or Pycnogenol. Numerous studies suggest that these naturally occurring chemicals impart significant benefits with regard to the cardiovascular system and beyond. (1,2,3)
The seasonings I used were not chosen randomly. In recent months scientists have discovered that extracts of thyme may be useful in: a) suppressing excessive inflammation via cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression; b) decreasing anxiety to a comparable extent as a conventional anxiolytic medication (diazepam) in an animal model and; c) protecting the brain and liver in an experimental model of alcohol abuse. It should be noted that the alcohol study combined a water-based extract of thyme with ginger. (4,5,6)
Likewise, the inclusion of cayenne pepper isn’t just there just to bring some heat to the party. Capsicum annuum is documented as having a beneficial effect on blood sugar control and high blood pressure that is associated with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). These pepper fruits are also excellent sources of potent antioxidants including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, polyphenols and zeaxanthin. The vivid colors in peppers are there for more than just visual appeal. The pigments in the flesh and skin of these fruits tell us that they’re loaded with carotenoids that will protect us well. (7,8,9)
The beautiful thing about eating a whole food diet is that you can confidently mix and match ingredients in these types of recipes. If you don’t like spicy foods, omit the cayenne. Add some other dry or fresh herbs and spices instead. You can use different nuts or seeds too. We recently tried cashews roasted w/garlic powder and fresh rosemary that were downright delicious. This recipe is an excellent candidate to experiment with because from start to finish, you can make it in under a half hour. It’s simple. It’s delicious. It’s good for your entire body, mind and pocketbook. And please share your own tips about how to make alternate and even tastier versions of this recipe.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Carotenoids, Herbs, Nuts
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes