Embrace nuts and seeds: They're delicious, add tons of texture and can also be incredibly healthful

Adding some nuts and seeds to your standard meals is so simple and can make a huge difference

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published June 7, 2024 12:30PM (EDT)

Almonds (Getty Images/BURCU ATALAY TANKUT)
Almonds (Getty Images/BURCU ATALAY TANKUT)

If you have any type of nut allergy, they click out of this article because it is not for you. If you can have nuts, but aren't especially fond of them, then pay close attention — because I may be able to help. 

For starters, nuts and seeds are full of essential vitamins, in additions to minerals that have the power to lower cholesterol and promote a healthy heart. Nuts and seeds are also chalk full of protein: Just a handful of almonds can be equivalent to an entire egg!

Many of us — including me — take time to prepare eggs every day in search of the protein, so imagine how much time you can save on a busy day by snatching some raw almonds and heading out the door? 

However, there's no roasting them, dipping them in something sweet and sticky–– and eating the ones that come with salt is a hard no, as it defeats the purpose of what we're trying to do.

Don't get me wrong: You can certainly have salted or roasted seeds and nuts, but in some cases, you might have to file that under dessert. I have cacao-covered almonds sometimes and try to get used to enjoying them as a snack, but we're not talking about snacking here, we are talking about living.

Back in the day, I lived off of barbecue sunflower seeds, or the Cool Ranch version, which I would not mind having now. There was always a running joke between my friends about how I could never hide from anyone, as it would always be so easy to catch me, because you could follow a trail of sunflower seed shells from the front of my house to the basketball court and back. I also loved salty honey nut almonds or cashews drenched with the same combination of sugar and salt that is so strong, you can hardly taste the nut. 

"As we get older and become more health conscious, I think it's important for us to take all of these hacks, tips and suggestions with an open mind and a positive attitude. "

As we get older and become more health-conscious, I think it's important for us to take all of these hacks, tips and suggestions with an open mind and a positive attitude. After all, we are not trying to take the fun out of food, we are trying to be healthy. We are trying to live.

Once you become used to making sure you're getting the appropriate amount of fiber in all of your meals, it starts to feel normal and your body will thank you.

Full disclaimer, I am not a dietician, I'm just a man in his 40s who dreams of keeping up with his four-year-old and making changes to my diet has definitely helped. 

Before the diet changes, she would take off running and I would catch her, but be so tired by the time I wrapped my arms around her tiny body, that I would just have to subdue her so that she wouldn't take off again. Now we run around together and tire each other out to the point where she says, “Okay, daddy, I'm ready to lay down. I’m sleepy.”

I'm willing to share this simple win with all of the older parents who know exactly what I'm talking about. I also have some easy ways to mix combinations of seeds and or nuts with every meal and I promise that if done right, you'll forget about the dryness, and it won't bother you at all. And even if you hate seeds and nuts, you'll get all the benefits without having to eat them straight up. 

"Nuts and seeds blend into delicious sauces then you can put on chicken, fish on vegetarian dishes. There is countless recopies for cashew, peanut, and almond sauces all over the internet."

For breakfast, seeds and nuts go great with your oatmeal. I like to add enough raw almonds, and sunflower seeds to my oatmeal in addition to agave nectar and raisins (You can also mix all of these ingredients in a homemade granola, snack on that granola throughout the day and use it for your oatmeal in the mornings). The crunchy consistency is normally what I'm going for, as I hate runny oatmeal as much as I hate oatmeal that is too dry. Obviously I understand everybody has different preferences, but it's the easiest way to start your day with those healthy fats. If oatmeal isn't your thing and you just can't do it, you can always slip the seeds and nuts into your smoothie, which is always great as well. 

Smoothies work for lunch too; however, no one expects you to get your job done with nothing on your stomach but blended fruits and nuts. So, I recommend a salad, loaded up with protein. There is also a collection of recipes available online that offer great recommendations for making your own nut-based salad dressings. And the same goes for dinner.

Nuts and seeds blend into delicious sauces then you can put on chicken, fish on vegetarian dishes. There is countless recipes for cashew, peanut, and almond sauces all over the internet. My favorite only requires cashews, garlic cloves, salt and water and only takes a few minutes to make.  

Healthful eating is easy when we are intentional, and it feels great once our body becomes used to it. 

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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Diet Grains Health Nutrition Nuts Proteins Seeds