Let’s be honest, it does NOT feel like August. I have woken up with temperatures below 60 in the past couple of weeks and my brain is saying it should be 90 outside. While I am not quite ready for fall and would love a few scorching days on the beach, I have been freezing all week and craving fall foods. I should still be enjoying fresh tomatoes, green beans, and bell peppers. Though I won’t cave in and have pumpkin anything for a good month, I had to cope with this abnormal weather. This week I made oven roasted candied nuts. While I have made this recipe before, my recent addition is the chia seeds. So long as you eat an actual serving size and not the whole bowl, this is a healthy way to indulge in this type of treat. With the walnuts and chia seeds, this snack is an omega 3 powerhouse too. There is plenty of research to support the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega 3’s.
Keeping inflammation at bay is crucial to athletes who are constantly beating their bodies down. Boosting dietary intake of healthy fats is an important component of injury prevention and recovery. Make a triple batch before heading back to college or send some to a friend or relative that is a college athlete (or just a typical college student)!
I often buy nuts at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but really miss the super fresh pecans that were sent to us each year from Tim’s aunt in Oklahoma before she passed away. Store bought will never taste as good as those!
If you have a personality like mine, you’ll be frustrated that yes, some of the chia seeds end up sticking to the baking dish instead of the nuts. Take a deep cleansing yoga breath, move on, and enjoy some of your new crunchy snack! Or, as I do, scrape them off with a spatula and reserve to add to oats. You could also chop the nuts and add them to salads, whole grain dishes or pancakes 🙂
Maple and Chia Roasted Pecans and Walnuts (GF, Vegan, DF)
- 3/4 C raw pecans
- 1 C raw walnut halves
- 3 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
- 1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe’s)
- Optional: a couple dashes of salt
- Set oven to 275º Fahrenheit
- In a medium bowl, measure or weigh out the nuts
- Add the syrup & vanilla to nuts and stir to coat well
- Add the cinnamon and chia seeds at once, again stirring well to coat
- Spread in one layer (do not overlap nuts, they will take longer to cook) on a non-stick cookie sheet or baking dish lined with aluminum foil (buy recycled foil and re-use when you can!)
- Pour any excess liquid/seeds from the bowl onto the nuts
- Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes (cooking time may vary by oven, up to 40 minutes)
- Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes
- Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Walnuts have been pinned as the most heart healthy nut by many researchers due to their high omega-3 content (discussed here at walnuts.org) and their vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemical content. Omega-3′s support heart health by helping to regulate inflammation, Vitamin E is heart protective by protecting cells and fatty substances in the body, and the phenols present are thought to support a healthy metabolism and healthy blood vessels.
Pecans contain a lot of fat but the good news is its mostly monounsaturated which is great for heart health. They contain oleic acid, also found in olive oil. Pecans are also rich in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and the nut’s antioxidants include vitamin E, ellagic acid, and carotenoids all shown to protect the body from diseases of aging.
Maple Syrup is a source of added sugar but can have some benefits if it is 100% pure and is used in moderation. It actually provides teeny amounts of calcium, iron, mangnesium & zinc. One study in 2010 found Canadian Maple Syrup to contain over 26 antioxidant compounds (1)!
Cinnamon has been found as a heart healthy spice that can improve circulation. Just it’s scent may even enhance brain function and attentiveness. Studies have also been published since 2003 highlighting potential blood sugar lowering effects when consumed in high amounts (2).
Chia seeds are an excellent vegetarian source of omega-3 and calcium. They also provide protein, fiber and many other minerals. They are super filling because they soak liquid up in your stomach and 2 tablespoons dry contain about 120 calories, 4 grams of protein, and exceeds your daily omega-3 requirements.
1. J Agric Food Chem 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7708-16. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. Li L, Seeram NP.
2. Diabetes Care 2003 Dec; 26(12): 3215-18. Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. A Khan, M Safdar, M Ali Khan, K Khattak, R Anderson.