10 Ways to Enjoy Walnuts While Watching Your Waistline.
Walnuts are satiating and a delicious food to include in your calorie-balanced lifestyle. A recent study[i] published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that one serving of walnuts (1 ounce) may provide 146 calories, which is 39 calories less or 21 percent fewer, than the 185 calories listed in the USDA Nutrient Database. The study takes into account the digestibility of walnut pieces and halves, and further research is needed to better understand the results of the study and how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods. Here are just a few ways walnuts can play a satisfying starring role in your meals and snacks.
- Don’t Leave Home Without Them. Keep satisfying snacks on hand that contain protein, good fats and fiber, which will help carry you over until your next meal. Stash a portion-controlled container of walnuts (about 1 ounce or ¼ cup) in your purse or briefcase for those days when hunger calls.
- Workout Ally. Trying to manage your weight by upping your workouts and watching your calories? Keep some walnuts in your gym bag as a refuel snack that contains good fats (2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids/ALA per one ounce serving), fiber (2 grams per one ounce serving), protein (4 grams per one ounce serving) and carbohydrate (4 grams per one ounce serving) and make that post-workout snack help you with your weight management goals. Add raisins for natural sweetness and additional fiber and carbohydrate.
- Sweet and Savory Smart Stash. Sedentary office jobs can be a detriment to weight loss. Have a “smart snack” drawer where you keep nutrient-dense and satiating snacks that will keep you on track. Start with two versions of roasted walnuts (one sweet, one savory), fresh fruit, unsweetened dried fruit, dried seasoned seaweed and whole grain crackers.
- Make Breakfast Work Harder. Make your breakfast work harder for you and last longer by incorporating walnuts into your overnight oats, smoothie, parfait or cereal.
- Set Yourself Up for Success. Keep nutrient-dense and appealing snacks prepped and easily accessible and you’ll reach for those first. Keep a small bowlful of walnuts on the counter, a large bowl of fresh cut fruit and cut veggies with hummus at eye level in the fridge and small packets of trail mix easily accessible in the pantry.
- Made to Order. Hosting a cocktail party? Make small batches of roasted nuts with a variety of different flavors, according to guest’s preferences. Lightly toss with vegetable oil and fresh or dried herbs and spices and toast in the oven. Try Cajun Spiced, Rosemary Sea Salt, Indian Spiced, Cinnamon Candied or Sesame Soy.
- Sundaes are for Sundays. For a fun family Sunday brunch, set up a make-your-own sundae bar with low-fat plain Greek yogurt, a variety of fresh fruit (sliced bananas, fresh berries, chopped apples), whole grain granola, unsweetened coconut and walnuts.
- Don’t Discount Dessert. Even when you’re watching your waistline, you can still enjoy a calorie-controlled dessert. Just make sure the calories fit into your overall calorie allotment for the day. Try simple sautéed ripe bananas topped with plain Greek yogurt and walnuts or Baked Walnut Stuffed Pears.
- Friday is for Finger Foods. After a long week of work, sometimes cooking is the last thing you want to do, so opt for no-cook finger foods. Enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired platter with hummus, tabbouleh, whole wheat pita, sliced cucumbers and walnuts.
- Bedtime Mix. Watching your weight and your calories doesn’t mean going to bed with an empty stomach. If hunger calls around bedtime, keep a walnut, dark chocolate chip and dried cranberry trail mix in the pantry and savor a ¼ cup of the sweet treat.
[i] Baer DJ, Gebauer SK, Novotny JA. Walnuts Consumed by Healthy Adults Provide Fewer Available Calories than Predicted by the Atwater Factors. [published online ahead of print November 18 2015]. J Nutr. 2015. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.217372.
Jenny Shea Rawn, MS, MPH, RD, is a leading health, food, and nutrition communications consultant and registered dietitian who loves to inspire others to live and eat simply, flavorfully and healthfully.