nuts

What’s on the menu – Celiac disease or not, this gluten free item is a must

I do my best to avoid anything made with refined wheat flour. Over the past decade, I’ve heard that the overconsumption of this item can contribute to detrimental health issues like type 2 diabetes, obesity and “gastric distress” (all listeners of the podcast know what that means). BUT, I’d be lying if I said I never touched the stuff. Fortunately for me, I don’t have a pronounced sensitivity to gluten, but there are those individuals who can’t even look at fresh-baked bread without getting a stomach ache.

Individuals who suffer from celiac disease have an inflammatory response whenever they ingest the gluten protein from wheat, rye, barley and other related items. This inflammatory response can result in several side effects ranging from bloating and gas to anemia and/or osteoporosis (source).

Author and podcaster Anna Vocino described her trials and tribulations with celiac disease on a past episode of Addicted to Fitness (episode link). Living with this disease forced her develop numerous gluten free and grain free recipes which ultimately lead to the creation of her cookbook Eat Happy (link). The pantry item that Anna and other celiac sufferers seem to use as their preferred wheat flour substitute is the menu item we’ll be highlighting today.

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Almond flour is made up of exactly what you think: ground up almonds. Usually the almonds are blanched, skins removed then finely ground.

One ingredient and minimally processed.

If that’s not enticing enough, almond flour’s nutrition facts essentially mirrors that of blanched almonds. One ounce contains 14 g of fat, 6 g of protein & carbs and significant amounts of important vitamins and minerals. Enriched (nutrients added) wheat flour on the other hand contains 0 g of fat, 3 g of protein and 21 g of carbs in the same serving size.

In addition to being gluten free, a single ounce of almond flour contains over 30% of our daily value (DV) for both Vitamin E and manganese. Both nutrients can boost insulin sensitivity which is extremely important to individuals that have problems controlling their blood sugar. Almond flour is also a good source of magnesium, which studies have shown can help decrease blood pressure (source).

I feel that it is important to mention that there is also a product known as almond meal which is made from almonds that still have their skin and is not as finely ground. I mention this because many of the sources I gathered my almond info from suggested that the skin of the almond contains many of its beneficial antioxidants (source). However, the terms “flour” and “meal” are often used interchangeably. A tell-tale sign that you’re buying almond meal is the tiny pieces of brown skin in the mixture (see below).

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Whether you use almond meal or flour, the point is you are using a product that will have less of a damaging effect on your body than regular wheat flour. Both Shannon and I have a preferred use of both products: Shannon loves using blanched almond flour to make paleo “friendly” almond cookies, while I like using almond meal to coat baked chicken or fish.

If you haven’t tried almond flour or meal yet, give it a shot. Its mild flavor won’t overwhelm any dish you use it in. If this post inspired you to give it a try, we’d love to hear what you think of it. If you are already an almond flour user & lover, please feel free to send your favorite recipe our way. You can email them to elementaltampa@gmail.com or post them to our social media pages (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). I also encourage everyone to check out our friend Anna’s book Eat Happy for more healthy recipes.

What’s on the Menu – Efficiency Nut

I don’t know who the PR person for walnuts is, but I feel like they’re doing a pretty lackluster job. Pistachios has Richard Sherman and a giant cartoon elephant, voiced by John Cena, telling me to pick up a bag. California almonds have SportsCenter anchors pushing them and it seems like Mr.Peanut as been telling us to eat peanuts, which aren’t nuts, before the TV was even invented. All these nuts are getting positive press, but the walnut is still waiting for its big break.

I think I may have an idea of why walnuts aren’t getting promoted as much as they should. The outside of a shelled walnut is covered in a thin, paper-like “skin” that some people attest to having a bitter taste. The flavor of the skin can be off-putting to certain folks, but much like an apple, there are a ton of nutrients in the skin of a walnut.  It’s believed that 90% of the walnuts beneficial organic compounds are contained in the skin.

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The beneficial compounds contained in walnuts include a special form of vitamin E, hard to find antioxidants and the highest alpha linolenic acid (omega-3) concentration of any nut (source). The positive health aspects of walnuts prompted the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University to conduct a study on the daily consumption of walnuts. Preliminary results of the study suggest that daily consumption of 1.5 oz of walnuts can reduce LDL cholesterol & inflammation which can lower your chance of developing heart disease (source).

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If all these health benefits aren’t enough to make you run out to buy a bag of walnuts, the fact that they are one of the cheaper nuts should be all the convincing you need. Raw nuts, which is what you should buy if you want the maximum health benefits, can be a bit pricey. However, compared to cashews, almonds or the luxurious macadamia nut, walnuts are at least $1 cheaper per pound (according to my research).

Walnuts: the nut with the highest ROI. It’s no “get crackin'” but I think it has potential. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what walnuts’ promotional catch phrase should be. You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or email us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

What’s on the Menu

This week I have a bite(s) size edition of #whatiatewednesday for you. Snacking healthy can be difficult but with a little forethought, it can be a breeze. There are plenty of great healthy snack options like hard boiled eggs, olives or hard cheeses (if you can handle dairy). Take this snack I pack in my lunch everyday. A small Tupperware of walnuts (heathy fats + protein), raisins (glucose for immediate energy) and dark chocolate (caffeine + theobromine for a coffee like pick me up) is the perfect afternoon health snack. The fish oil supplement in the pic is not required to complete this snack but can be beneficial if you don’t eat enough fatty fish.

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