When adding superfoods into your diet, it is one thing to read about all the many health benefits associated with a particular food, but it’s another thing altogether to work that food into your daily life and your recipes. Luckily, cooking with nuts and seeds is super easy as these foods are incredibly versatile in a Clean Cuisine kitchen.
Sure you could just grab a handful of nuts and seeds and eat them just like that, but from homemade oil-free pesto to nut creams and dairy-free creamy salad dressings, there are so many other creative and tasty ways to work these superfoods into your diet. Here are some ideas…
Cooking with Nuts and Seeds
NUT CRUMBS & SALAD BOOSTERS:
One of our favorite ways of cooking with nuts and seeds is in crumb form. This is primarily because nuts and seeds are ultra-filling — therefore, it’s difficult to eat too many of them at once; if you try boosting your nut consumption in a recipe by simply tossing a handful into the dish, you aren’t going to get nearly as much flavor or satisfaction as you would if you dispersed the nutty goodness throughout the recipe in crumb form.
Nut crumbs lend remarkable texture and flavor to countless recipes, and they make the best-tasting, most nutritious replacement for traditional bread crumbs sprinkled on casseroles, tossed on top of stir-fries, blended into oil free pesto recipes, and sprinkled on top of whole grains.
By the way, pine nut crumbs make an amazing substitute for Parmesan cheese scattered on top of a plate of pasta with marinara.
We also love nut crumbs as a base to our Salad Boosters.
One of our favorite things is a simple breakfast of a big mixed fresh fruit bowl, sprinkled with nut crumbs and a drizzle of raw honey.
Best of all, nut crumbs are beyond easy to make: Simply place dry nuts in a high speed blender, and pulse several times until they are crumbly. It takes all of 30 seconds to make nut crumbs, and they can be stored in big batches in self-sealing zip top bags in your freezer for up to 2 months.
NOTE: Nut crumbs are more likely to go rancid than are whole nuts so be sure to store them in the freezer to prolong freshness.
NUT & SEED-BASED CREAMY SALAD DRESSING, SAUCES & DIPS
We also use nuts and seeds to make incredibly delicious, oil-free creamy salad dressings. You would be amazed at the vast array of rich and decadent nut and seed-based sauces and dips you can make too. A killer sauce or dip is all it takes to elevate healthy foods like veggies, grilled fish, baked potatoes, seared tofu, whole grains and beans from ho-hum to yum!
Below is a recipe example of a nut and avocado-based oil-free pesto that delivers all the rich and creamy goodness you’d get from a conventional pesto recipe. Use the oil-free pesto like you would conventional pesto. By the way, it is amazing on spaghetti squash or mixed in with whole grain macaroni and peas.
Oil-Free Pesto Recipe
- Cook Time:5 mins
- Total Time:5 mins
- Flesh from 1 whole avocado
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- ¼ cup water
- Place all ingredients in a high speed blender; process until smooth and creamy.
Yield: 1/2 cup
RAW NUT BUTTERS
Although they can get a little pricey, we think raw nut butters are absolutely worth the price. The ultimate fast food, they are super convenient, too.
By all means you want to avoid any nut butters made with added oils though. Especially bad are those nut butters containing added hydrogenated oil. Also check the ingredients list to make sure there are no added sugars. The purest, most nutritious nut butters are most definitely raw.
Even though peanut butter is by far the most popular nut butter it is practically impossible to find raw peanut butter, and in fact, many, but not all, peanut butter brands contain unhealthful added oils and sugars. The best tasting and healthiest peanut butter is the fresh stuff you can grind yourself at the supermarket.
Our favorite commercially available raw nut butters are almond butter, cashew butter, and macadamia butter. If you have a high-speed blender, you can go online and learn to make your own raw nut butters using just about any nut. Nut butters are a delicious spread on sliced fruit such as apples and pears, perfect on celery, and they make the most decadent mayonnaise alternative in sandwiches.
Three of our favorite super simple vegan nut-butter sandwich creations made on sprouted whole grain bread include:
- Almond butter, sliced heirloom tomatoes, and arugula
- Peanut butter with banana, shredded carrots, and cinnamon
- Cashew butter with leftover roasted vegetables and watercress.
We also use nut butters to thicken sauces and vinaigrettes or as a milk replacement in our No-Milk Shakes and smoothies.
RAW SEED BUTTERS
Raw tahini is made from sesame seeds, and it’s unbelievably versatile. We use it in place of oil for hummus, roasted eggplant dip, vegetable spreads, and creamy salad dressings. Like the sesame seeds it is made from, tahini is rich in calcium and a great vegan protein source. It’s also got a hefty dose of fiber, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
HEMP SEED PROTEIN SHAKES
Whenever someone asks us what our favorite protein shake is we always tell them the absolute cleanest and best protein shake in the world is made from pure hemp seeds. The protein from hemp is considered the “Gold Standard” of plant protein because it is particularly easy to digest (no bloating, gas, constipation, etc.), is rich in essential amino acids, is very unlikely to cause allergies and is particularly rich in zinc, iron and magnesium. And just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds pack a hefty 11 grams of protein! Hemp also has an optimal anti-inflammatory omega-3 / omega-6 ratio and is one of only a few food sources of super anti-inflammatory GLA. To learn more about hemp seeds and for one of our favorite hemp protein shakes click HERE.
NUT & SEED-BASED DESSERTS
Just about any cream-based dessert recipe can be made dairy-free without tasting like a “diet recipe” by using nut creams. We have already provided some dessert recipes in our meal plans as part of the Challenge but we have additional recipes on the website and in our books.
BOOSTING NUTRITION FROM NUTS AND SEEDS
Soaking nuts and seeds is an easy way to improve their digestibility and increase their nutritional profile. Harder nuts like almonds should be soaked for 6 or 8 hours; cashews, for 4 hours; and softer nuts like walnuts, pecans, macadamias, and pine nuts, for 1 or 2 hours. Even if you don’t have time to soak them for the full length of time, soaking them just a little can still result in significant benefit. If you want to speed the process up a bit you can use warm water, but if you are soaking nuts and seeds overnight, be sure to refrigerate them to avoid spoilage. Once they are soaked simply drain, rinse with cool water, and store in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days, making sure to rinse them daily. Soaking your nuts and seeds might seem like a whole lot of extra work for nothing, but it really does boost nutrition and it takes barely any time.