Step away from the vending machine.
Or were you going to pull the lever for a packet of mixed nuts?
Nuts are an easily portable and tasty snack for busy people on the run. Tuck a bag into a desk drawer, glove compartment, purse pocket or backpack for days when the munchies strike.
Recent nutrition studies rank pecans, walnuts and almonds among the most nutritious nuts because they are high in both protein and omega-3 fats. All three are excellent sources of manganese. Walnuts add omega-3 and copper. Almonds offer an excellent source of vitamin E.
All nuts are high in protein, as well as good fats and fiber, potassium and magnesium. To link to the latest studies on nuts, go to www.nuthealth.org, a site sponsored by the International Tree Nut Council.
Despite all the good news about nuts, it's a good idea to avoid tucking into a bowl at a party, or you might wind up eating more calories than you need.
Portion control is the key to enjoying this recipe for spicy maple-glazed nuts. A serving of nuts is about 1/4 cup, or a handful.
We like to use a deviled-egg plate as a serving tray at a party. Two "eggs" is equivalent to about 1/4 cup. Of course, it doesn't really matter if guests know that little trick. Easy-to-see portions help everyone avoid the trap of mindless eating.
Back at the vending machine, you might want to check the label for the amount of sodium added.
A spice mixture of cumin, cayenne and maple syrup adds a spicy tang without as much salt.
Real maple syrup is an excellent companion for nuts.
Nuts are high in natural fats, so they spoil easily. And they are not inexpensive. Buy them in bulk, then protect your investment by storing them in the freezer for up to one year.
For a snack mix, combine spiced nuts with raisins, sweetened dried cranberries or chopped, pitted dried fruits, if desired.
This nut mixture also is excellent served as a crunchy, tasty topping on salads or sprinkled on yogurt, cereal, pasta or cooked vegetables.
Spicy Maple-Glazed Nuts
1/2cup pecan halves
1/2cup walnut pieces
1/2cup whole, unblanched almonds
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 10-by-15-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.
Combine nuts in a mixing bowl. Drizzle syrup over nuts, then sprinkle with seasonings. Toss to coat nuts evenly. Spread nuts in a single layer on prepared pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly toasted, stirring midway through. Makes 1 1/2 cups nuts.
Per 1/4-cup serving: 248 calories (76 percent from fat), 22 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 47 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.
The Wichita Eagle—02/22/11