What are good al­ter­na­tives to nuts?

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH -

Q: My10-year-old son is al­ler­gic to nuts – what are some good al­ter­na­tives? Ellen

A: There are two ways I like to think about nut al­ter­na­tives – one has a nu­tri­tional fo­cus and the other is more recipe fo­cused. As you haven’t men­tioned seeds, I will as­sume that your son is not also al­ler­gic to these.

Let’s start with the nu­tri­tional as­pect. While the nu­tri­ent con­tent can vary de­pend­ing on the type of nut, nuts are gen­er­ally rich in un­sat­u­rated fats (mo­noun­sat­u­rated and polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids) and min­er­als, and they also con­tain some pro­tein and fi­bre.

Seeds such as pump­kin seeds and sun­flower seeds have a sim­i­lar nu­tri­tional pro­file to nuts, so these are a great choice if your son can have these.

Tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, is also very nu­tri­tious. Other great food sources of mo­noun­sat­u­rated fats in­clude av­o­cado and ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, and polyun­sat­u­rated fats are found in flaxseeds (also called

lin­seeds), chia seeds and oily fish.

Eat­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles will pro­vide a range of di­etary min­er­als as well as fi­bre. For ex­am­ple, green leafy veg­eta­bles con­tain mag­ne­sium, which is also found in nuts and seeds. If your son isn’t a big veg­etable eater, adding some green veges to a smoothie can be an easy way to amp up his in­take.

For a recipe, it will de­pend on the type of recipe when it comes to de­ter­min­ing what a suit­able re­place­ment would be.

Typ­i­cally nuts are used in recipes due to their nu­tri­tional value and their fat con­tent. Seeds such as sun­flower seeds and pump­kin seeds can be used in the same quan­ti­ties as most nuts, how­ever, it’s best to soak them first – typ­i­cally they have a stronger flavour than nuts such as cashews.

Al­ter­na­tively, you may also be able to use co­conut – des­ic­cated, cream/milk or even oil de­pend­ing on the con­sis­tency you need to achieve and the type of recipe or the de­sired flavour.

Q: Do you have any tips for adding flavour to veg­eta­bles? Mon­ica

A: There is so much you can do with veg­eta­bles to en­hance their flavour – even dif­fer­ent cook­ing meth­ods can im­pact flavour. For ex­am­ple, bak­ing cau­li­flower brings out its flavour much more than steam­ing or boil­ing does.

Add to the cau­li­flower some spices such as turmeric, cumin and pa­prika and a driz­zle of good qual­ity oil, pop it in the oven to bake and you’ll have a de­li­cious side for a meal.

Rose­mary is also lovely with baked veg­eta­bles, such as sweet potato or potato, and you can add flavour to leafy greens by saute­ing them in some ex­tra vir­gin olive oil with some gar­lic. I adore adding herbs and spices to veg­eta­bles, not just to add flavour but to add some ex­tra nu­tri­ents and phy­to­chem­i­cals (ben­e­fi­cial plant chem­i­cals) as well.

Adding fat to veg­eta­bles can en­hance their taste, and it also helps you to ab­sorb the fat-sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins that are present, such as vi­ta­min K in leafy greens. If you pre­fer cooked/warm veg­eta­bles, try bak­ing them with a driz­zle of good qual­ity oil. Or, if you pre­fer a crunchy salad, you could whisk to­gether some ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, tahini, gar­lic and le­mon juice to make a nour­ish­ing and flavour­some dress­ing.

Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. See dr­libby.com


Adding some green veges to a smoothie can be an easy way to amp up your in­take of di­etary min­er­als if you have a nut al­lergy.

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