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It’s National Nut Day! And we don’t mean it’s time to celebrate your wacky side–you should do that every day– we are honoring the variety of shelled seeds that pack great nutrition and should be part of a healthy diet–at least for anyone that’s not allergic.

Nutritional Powerhouses

Nuts are loaded with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, the “healthy fats” that have been shown to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Nuts are also rich in fiber and phytosterols, plant compounds that block cholesterol formation; as well as polyphenols, antioxidants that protect your cells from the damaging effects of oxidation. Other nutty nutrients include vitamin E and minerals like magnesium, selenium, copper, and manganese.

Nuts and Dieting

Once upon a time, not too long ago, nuts were forbidden on most weight-loss diets. Nuts are calorie dense so a small serving does contain a fair amount of calories and fat. But nutrition science has evolved and more recent studies have even associated eating nuts with weight loss, especially if you replace high-saturated-fat meats or other snacks with nuts. 

Most modern weight-loss diets, including the Mediterranean Diet, Paleo, and Keto, encourage eating nuts for the protein, healthy fat, and low carbs. And, because they’re a plant-based protein source and nutrient dense, nuts are also a staple for a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

As far as the caloric density, we do need to be mindful of portion sizes, with a portion being about an ounce, or roughly a palmful. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of non-oil-roasted, unsalted nuts per week. Raw or dry roasted are your best options. A word of caution about nut butters, they contain more calories by volume than nuts and can be packed with added sugars, salt, and oils to keep from separating. 

The Most “Nut-ritional”

Eating a variety of nuts helps you reap all the nutritional benefits that vary from nut to nut. 

  • Walnuts are richest in omega-3 fatty acids, making them not just heart-healthy but also “brain food.”  
  • Almonds are a great source of bone-protecting, non-dairy calcium, with the highest calcium content of any tree nut. 
  • Pecans, macadamia and Brazil nuts are great low-carb options. 
  • Pistachios and cashews are some of the lowest calorie nuts ounce for ounce, but should be avoided if you’re counting carbs.
  • Peanuts, while technically a legume–more of a bean than a nut–have the most protein, 7 grams per ounce. 

If you’d like to add more nuts to your diet, or are just going nuts trying to keep up a healthy diet, we can help. The Pickled Beet creates personalized chef-prepared meals that help you achieve your dietary goals. We like to sprinkle nuts on salads and substitute regular flour for almond flour. Contact us for a consultation.

Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Lemon and Thyme   

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoon(s) ghee
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 cup gluten free panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest 
  • 1 lemon, cut  into 4 wedges
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stemmed
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) cayenne
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup almond flour

Pound chicken to even thickness and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Process nuts in a food processor until they resemble coarse meal.

Saute the shallots in the ghee until they soften. Lower the heat and add the nuts and panko. You just want to get a little color on the panko, so watch it closely. It can go from brown to black quickly!

Transfer the panko/nut  mixture to a shallow container and stir in lemon zest, thyme, and cayenne.

Combine the eggs, mustard, and black pepper together in a second container.

Put flour in a third breading container. 

Dredge chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with panko mixture.

Place on a baking sheet and cook until chicken is 160 degrees. Serve with lemon wedges.