Monthly Archives: April 2013

My version of Jamie’s 15 minute Greek Feast!

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jamies greek feast 3 Another 15 minute meal done and dusted and believe it or not but I somehow managed to whip up this wickedly delicious (yet relatively healthy) Greek feast in less than 15minutes! 14mins and 39seconds to be exact!! Although Jamie uses lamb mince in his recipe to make Greek lamb koftas, I was lucky enough to find some lamb (home grown on my parents farm) hiding in the back of my freezer this morning! So, instead of going out and buying lamb mince, which is often quite high in fat (particularly saturated fat), I just cut off any excess fat and diced up my lamb into bite sized chunks. Then cooked it in much the same way as Jamie’s Koftas! I also left out the pita pockets as there seemed to be plenty of food to go round without them but they are definitely a nice addition when feeding a crew and are fun alternative for scooping up food than the boring old knife and fork!

What you need… (for 2 people)

1 lamb backstrap (or a shoulder or leg could also be used if you are feeding a crowd!)

small handful of raw pistachios

honey

1 glove garlic (crushed)

2 tsp garam massala

fresh thyme (or oregano)

1 small cos lettuce

handful of cherry tomatoes

1  tbs of low fat fetta or cottage cheese

1 lemon

1/2 small lebanese cucumber

1/2 small red onion

small handful of kalamata olives

olive oil

1/2 cup cous cous

large handful of mint

handful of parsley

1 chilli

1/2 cup fat free natural yoghurt

What to do….

Turn on your kettle and while the water is boiling add your handful of mint and the chilli to a food processor with a pinch of salt and pepper and blitz until smooth. Remove the blade then throw in half a cup of cous cous and about half a cup of boiling water. Then cover with the lid and set aside.

Next, place a non-stick frying pan over high heat, and while it is heating up, add your lamb to a bowl along with the garam massala, season with salt and pepper and mix well to allow the spice to infuse into the meat. Once the pan is hot, add a dash of olive oil to the pan before throwing in your lamb, turning regularly so it browns nicely all over.

Meanwhile, quickly chop up your lettuce into chunks and throw onto to a serving board along with your cherry tomatoes (halved). Coarsely grate you cucumber and red onion, place in a bowl and then season lightly with salt. Then squeeze out the excess salty fluid before sprinkling over the lettuce, along with the your crumbled fetta/cottage cheese, chopped parsely and olives.

Bash the pistachios with a mortar and pestle and then throw them over your sizzling lamb along with a drizzle of honey, your chopped thyme or oregano leaves and I also added a sprinkling of sesame seeds for good measure then toss well to combine. Remove your lamb from the heat and assemble next to the salad on your serving board.

Fluff up your cous cous and transfer to a serving bowl. The last thing to do is to pour your yoghurt into a serving dish and squeeze over some lemon juice, mix through and you’re good to go!

Good Luck!

A

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Sticky Kickin’ Chicken and Crunchy Asian Salad (Jamie Oliver Style!)

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Healthy Fast Food – Sticky Kicking Chicken (Jamie Oliver Style!)

In keeping with my promise to trial some of Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals,  on the menu at my house tonight was a delicious mish mash of some of Jamie’s healthy “fast food” concoctions. Rather than going out and buying a heap of ingredients to make one of his dishes exactly as is written in the book, I had a good scout around my fridge and pantry to see what I had on hand and came up with my own meal combination of Jamie’s famous Sticky Kickin’ Chicken, Crunchy Asian Salad and his Szechuan Eggy rice! And believe it or not, being spontaneous in the kitchen can definitely pay off, as it all seemed to work perfectly together!

What you need…. (for 2 people)

The chicken:

3 x chicken thigh fillets (trimmed of excess fat)

1 tbs Chinese five spice

1.5 tbs sweet chilli sauce

1 tbs sesame seeds

sesame oil

light soy sauce or tamari (GF)

1 clove garlic (optional)

Crunchy Salad:

1 carrot

1/2 small lebanese cucumber

handful of snow peas (or sugar snap peas)

1 juicy lime

handful of coriander

The Rice:

2 x 250g packets of cooked brown rice (or if you have the time cook your own brown rice to save yourself some $$$)

2 eggs

2 tbs sweet chilli sauce

light soy sauce/tamari (GF)

1 large juicy lemon

1/2 cup frozen/fresh peas

(NOTE: we had a HEAP of rice left over so maybe try halving this rice recipe…unless you are a fan of left overs the next day like myself!).

What to do….

Trim your chicken of excess fat and place on a large piece of baking paper. Sprinkle over the Chinese 5 spice and season with salt and pepper before rubbing the spice into the meat. Fold over the baking paper then bash and flatten the chicken to about 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin or other large blunt kitchen utensil. Throw the chicken into a hot frying pan with a good dash of rice bran or canola oil. Turning after 3-4 mins, until nicely charred and cooked through.

Meanwhile, grab your rice and pour it into another frying pan over medium heat and then sprinkle over your schezuan pepper and the frozen or fresh peas. Squeeze over your lemon juice, and then leave to heat through, tossing it regularly to stop it from sticking to the pan.

Then, for your chicken marinade, mix together your sweet chilli sauce, a small dash of soy sauce and a clove of crushed garlic in a small bowl before pouring it over your chicken and leave it to sizzle and caramelise away!

While the rice is heating up and your chicken is sizzling nicely, quickly slice up your salad veggies (either by hand or in a food processor) and throw in your coriander before dressing the salad with a drizzle of soy sauce and a good squeeze of lime juice. Assemble your salad on one side of a large serving board or platter.

Now back to the rice… push all the rice to one side, pour your sweet chilli sauce over the space on the hot pan and let it bubble away. Crack your eggs into the pan then slowly circulate a fork through the egg and sweet chilli mixture, gradually pulling in the rice until mixed through nicely.

Grab your sizzling kickin’ chicken off the stove and onto a cutting board to slice it up, then assemble on the serving board with the salad. Finally throw your rice into a serving bowl and you’re ready to go!

AND guess how long it took me to whip this little cracker of a dish up?….. 16 minutes!! not bad for my first “healthy fast food” challenge!! So, next time you think it’s too much effort to cook dinner and are about to reach for the boring old takeout menu… think about what you’re missing out on! Go on..give this dish a crack and see how long it takes..I dare you!

A

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Mexican chilli con carne tacos

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chilli con carne tacosThis week I’ve decided to try out a few of Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals recipes, as I just love this book and like Jamie, I am also a firm believer that it is possible to whip up healthy “fast food” in almost less time than it takes to order and collect dinner from your  local takeout restaurant! Not to mention you can save yourself a heap of cash in the long run!

I am also planning to make a few ingredient swaps along the way to hopefully inspire some of you to get creative in the kitchen and come up with your own food creations! I really want to show you that by making a few simple modifications along the way, you can essentially whip up a meal that better suits your own personal tastes, what you already have available in your pantry or fridge and even improve the nutritional quality of your dish! The following recipe is the perfect example of my tendency to stray away from the confines of a recipe book and go with my own Nudie Foodie inspirations!

After establishing that Mexican was to be the flavour of the night, I came up with the idea of turning Jamie’s Beef Chilli Con Carne into a mexican fiesta by making Chilli Con Carne tacos! And man were they tastey! Not only did this dish satisfy our hankering for Mexican, but I also improved the nutritional quality of Jamie’s meal by using extra lean beef mince and added in a heap of extra salad veges!

What you need…

1 can of red kidney beans

500g extra lean beef mince

1 jar passatta (or you can just use a tin of crushed tomatoes)

1 brown onion (diced)

jar grilled red pepperschilli con carne bowl

3 eshallots

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 tsp garam massala

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1.5 tsp cumin seeds (or ground cumin)

1 cup chopped lettuce

1 large tomato (chopped)

1/2 cup fat free natural yoghurt

bunch of coriander

1/2 avocado

1/2 cup grated low fat cheese

1 or 2 red chillis (chopped)

handful of jarred jalapenos

soft corn or wheat mini tortillas

What to do….

Add the garam massala and mince to a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper before mixing through with your hands. Then roll the mince into small balls. Heat some rice bran or canola oil in a large fry pan and add your meat balls. Jiggle the pan around every minute or so to ensure they become browned all over.

Meanwhile, add your chopped onion to a large saucepan with a good drizzle of oil and saute until the onion is slightly opaque. Then add in your garlic, eshallots and chilli and saute for another minute or two. Remove from the heat and add your passata, red peppers and a handful of coriander roots (reserve the leaves for garnish) before blitzing with a hand blender (or pour mixture into a blender or food processor, blitz and then return to the saucepan). Return to the heat and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes before adding your meatballs.

Next, rinse the can of kidney beans and add them to the meatball fry pan (don’t worry about washing) along with the other spices  and fry over medium heat for 1 minute to allow the flavours to infuse, then add to your chilli con carne. Leave to simmer whilst you quickly chop up your tomatoes, lettuce and avo and arrange on a serving board with the jalepno peppers, coriander and grated cheese. Chop up a handful of coriander and mix through your natural yoghurt in a small serving bowl.

Then heat up your mini tortillas and you’re ready to serve!

Healthy, seriously delicious and ready in minutes what’s not to love??

A

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My Healthy Anzac Biscuits

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IMG_0874In honour of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could continue living freely in this beautiful sunburnt country, yesterday I whipped up a batch of the good old traditional Anzac Bikkies…except with a bit of a nudiefoodie twist! Unlike the traditional Anzac biscuits that are laden with butter and therefore saturated fats..I made a slightly healthier version by replacing the butter with a canola oil spread and also added in a good handful of walnuts for some extra healthy monounsaturated fats!

What you need…

3/4 cup plain flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbs golden syrup

1/2 cup walnuts (or whatever nuts you fancy! macadamias would work a treat with the the Anzac flavours too!)

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

100g canola oil spread

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs water

What to do…

Firstly, turn your oven onto 180 degrees (fan forced).

Chop up your nuts and add them to  a large mixing bowl along with your flour, sugar, coconut and oats. Mix Well. Add your butter and golden syrup to a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter has melted. Mix your water together with your baking soda in a cup and add to your syrup mixture and stir until well combined. Pour this mixture over your bowl of dry ingredients and then mix well to combine..and don’t be afraid to get down and dirty and get your hands in there to make sure it is well combined!

Then roll tablespoons of the biscuit mixture into balls and place on a large lined baking tray. Gently press the top of them to flatten them slightly and they’re ready for the oven!

Leave them to bake for 12-13 minutes or until they are slightly crisp and browned around the edges.

Leave them to sit for 5mins before turning them onto a wire rack to cool…or if you are like me and like them hot and chewy pass them around straight away and enjoy a minutes silence with a little slice of heaven!

Enjoy!

A

Vegetarian San Choy Bow

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Now I’m sure at some stage many of you will have heard the term “Meat Free Mondays” before..but what the hell is it and why on earth would anyone want to eat vegetarian style once a week? Well firstly, it is highly recommended that everyone should try to have at least one meat free night a week..why? Because it’s an easy way to cut down on the “bad” saturated fats in our diet, as these fats are predominantly found in animal based products like meat!

It’s also good for the environment, as a vegetarian diet is very sustainable and cutting down on your meat consumption will help cut down on green house gases! double tick! The trick with vegetable based dishes is to make sure you include some protein based foods like legumes, nuts or in this case, textured vegetable protein (TVP) which is dehydrated soya protein that can be used like normal mince!

In keeping with the philosophy of “Meat Free Mondays” tonight I made a vegetarian friendly version of my san choy bow using some TVP instead of chicken/pork mince. And you know what..we honestly hardly noticed the difference! The TVP works really well with this dish, as it is very absorbent and takes on all the other strong flavours of the dish.

Low fat, high in protein, vegetarian friendly and packed full of veggies that provide loads of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this dish is the perfect “Meat Free Monday” meal….and better still, the rest of the family won’t be any the wiser that there is not a skerric of meat on their plates!

What you need…(enough for 4 people)

1 cup TVP (dry)

1 cup chicken stock

1 large brown onion (diced)

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

1 large red chilli (chopped finely)

2 es  TVP SCB 2 hallots (chopped)

4 – 5 mushies (chopped)

1 large carrot (diced)

1 small tin water chestnuts

1/4 yellow capsicum (diced)

1/2 red capsicum (diced)

1/2 zucchini (diced)

handful of bean sprouts

handful of coriander (chopped)

1 tbs oyster sauce

tsp sesame oil

2 tsp salt reduced soy sauce or tamari

good sprinkle of sesame seeds

1/2 lime

1 small cos lettuce

What to do…

Pour 1 cup of stock into a sauce pan and bring to the boil, (or you can just add 1 stock cube to 1cup of boiling water). Place your TVP in a large bowl and pour the stock over it and leave to absorb while you cut up your veggies!

Once you’ve chopped up all your veggies, heat some rice bran, peanut or canola oil in a large deep frypan or wok and then add your onion. Saute for a couple of minutes on medium heat, then add your garlic, eshallots, chilli and ginger, cooking for 1-2 mins.

Then add your mushies and saute for a couple of minutes before adding your sesame seeds, carrot, zucchini and capsicum. After a minute or so, add your TVP mince and stir through the veggies.

Now for the sauces! Add your oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil and stir through until well combined. Finally add your bean sprouts and coriander and stir through. Before serving squeeze some fresh lime juice over the mince to give it a bit of zing! Serve with a plate of cos lettuce leaves and it’s time to dig in!

Meat free Mondays sorted! TVP SCB 5

Enjoy!

A

Grilled Atlantic Salmon and Black Rice Salad

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black rice salad and pumpkinSo after a 4day foodie adventure in Melbourne (where I probably ate a few too many ridiculously tastey meals and drank a few too many delicious vinos) I needed something fresh and healthy for dinner..and what spells fresh and healthy better than a nice piece of grilled salmon and a nutritious black rice salad?!

Never used black rice before? Long been treasured in Ancient China as a luxury food, back in those days black rice soon became known as the “forbidden rice” as it was cultivated exclusively for royalty ONLY and all others were banned from eating it. Fortunately these days black rice is available for everyone to enjoy right around the globe! Though perhaps a little more expensive than your standard wholegrain rice, black rice makes a great addition to just about any dish. Not only adding more depth, texture and flavour to your meal but also obviously adding a whole heap of extra important vitamins and minerals! Hailed by many as being a “superfood” black rice contains significant amounts of the vitamin Niacin (needed to release energy from food, to control blood sugars and also plays a role in maintaining healthy skin, nervous system and digestive system), thiamin (required for optimum growth in childhood and fertility) and magnesium (essential for regulating blood pressure and in nerve and muscle function). It is also obviously a great source of fibre to keep our digestive systems healthy! The grain’s magnificent colour is due to a naturally occurring antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is also responsible for the vibrant colour of blueberries and blackberries! So really…what’s not to love about this tastey, nutritious grain?!

Ok so back to my nutritious dinner… I served up some fresh grilled atlantic salmon with roast pumpkin, a brown and black rice salad and some home made pesto! Deslishhh!

Here is what you’ll need….black rice salad1

2 salmon fillets

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1/2 cup uncooked black rice

big bunch of parsley

1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes

1/2 can cannelini beans (rinsed)

1 small red onion

1/3 cup currants

handful of washed roquette leaves

1/4 cup mixed seeds (pepitas, pumpkin seeds, linseeds etc) OR i think a pistachios would also go really nicely with this dish!

juice of a lime

1 tbs soy/tamari sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

olive oil

sesame oil (optional)

Home made pesto (see previous salmon recipes for how instructions on how to whip this up)

200g chopped pumpkin

What to do…

Firstly turn your oven onto moderate heat (180degrees fan forced). Chop up your pumpkin and place it on a small baking tray, spray with olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper and then place in the oven to bake for around 25-30mins (or until it is soft and slightly crispy around the edges).

As for the pesto.. it was just a last minute idea and you can, of course, always just use a bought pesto or replace it with a dollop of tzatziki or chilli jam! It’s totally up to you! I was just going with what I could find hiding in the fridge! But if you are after the recipe for this have a look at my previous posts as I have explained the process a couple of times in previous recipes!

Although I cooked both lots of rice seperately (as per instructions on the back of the packets). You could also just buy a packet of already par cooked brown rice to save yourself some time and then just cook the black rice using the packet instructions. As they both take the same amount of time to cook however, it is almost just as easy to cook them both separately!

I think that the absorption method is best for the black rice (1 part rice : 1.75 parts water) where after rinsing your rice first, you just place your water and rice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, and then cover and leave for about 25mins or until all the water has all been absorbed.

As for the brown rice I just filled a saucepan 2/3 full with water then brought it to the boil before adding the rice and then leaving it for around 25mins or until the rice was “aldente” and still slightly chewy.

However you choose to cook your rice, I’m sure it will work out just fine! Now onto the rest of the salad.. chop your cherry tomatoes in half, chop up your big bunch of parsley and finely dice your red onion before adding them all to a large salad bowl along with the rice. Add your rinsed lentils and the currants and mix all the ingredients through really well.

In a small jug add your lime juice, tamari/soy sauce, a dash of olive oil (or sesame oil) and the sugar and stir well to combine. Pour over the salad and mix well. Just before serving you can add in your nuts/seeds so that they are nice and crunchy!

When you are almost ready to serve, heat a non stick frying pan, spray with olive oil and when it is nice and hot, place your salmon skin side down and leave to cook on that side for 3-4 mins, then flip over and cook the other side for 1-2mins. (the cooking times will obviously vary depending how thick your pieces of salmon are!)

And it’s serving time!! (Oh yeh and I should probably let you know that I actually made this salad for 2 but it could easily have fed 4 or maybe even 6 people!! oh well lots of left overs for me! yay!)

Enjoy!

A

Going Nuts about Nuts!

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mixed_nutsDid you know that a peanut is not actually a nut? Yep, that’s right, your good old faithful peanut has been lying to you all these years! It’s actually a legume, as unlike its other nutty counterparts, peanuts grow in the ground not on a tree. So why are they called peaNUTS and generally classified as a nut? Well the the International Nut and Dried Fruit Foundation recognises that the nutritional composition of the peanut is so similar to that of tree nuts that is is only practical that it be included in this group!

So what are the nutritional characteristics of nuts that make so more-ish and yet so good for us at the same time?

Well perhaps a little uncharacteristic of foods that are of plant origin, nuts contain moderate amounts of protein (9–20%) and they also contain large quantities of fat (49–74% total fat)! Wait a minute..how can something that is so high in fat be good for us???? Well basically the fats found in nuts are mostly monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, which are known as the “good” fats that help fight heart disease by lowering our cholesterol levels. Not only are they good for our hearts but nuts are also a great source of dietary fibre and provide a wide range of essential nutrients, including several B group vitamins, vitamin E, minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium, antioxidant minerals (selenium, manganese and copper), plus other antioxidant compounds (such as flavonoids and resveratrol)..the compounds also found in red wine!
Upon munching my way through a handful of raw nuts this morning I started thinking about just how many different types of nuts there are out there…we have macadamias, walnuts, brazil nuts and cashews, we have pistachios and almonds and pecans, pinenuts and hazelnuts oh and of course there is the sneaky “peanut” who we will call a distant cousin of the nut family for now! When talking about nuts and their health benefits I am often asked what are the BEST nuts for you so I  thought I would share with you my pick of the top 5 best nuts for you!
1. Walnuts – While all nuts offer heart health benefits, Walnuts certainly take the cake as one of the best for us! Walnuts contain by far the most significant amount of all nuts of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a compound that helps reduce plaque buildup in arteries and fights heart disease. Just one-quarter cup of walnuts gives you nearly 91 percent of the recommended daily value for this healthy fat. Your body cannot make omega-3 fats on its own, which is why it’s so important to include omega-3-rich foods in your diet. Aside from their heart health benefits, Walnuts also contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which helps support our immune systems.
2. Almonds – It’s nuts how much nutrition is packed into these little bite sized morsels! Almonds are high in calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, protein and vitamin E. They contain more vitamin E than any other nut, with around 20 almonds providing almost half your daily vitamin E needs! Due to their high protein content Almonds help to keep you full and prevent hunger cravings that all too often result in you reaching for the chocolate cupboard at around 3 oclock each day! And to top off their endless list of health benefits, almonds are also high in antioxidants! Yay for almonds!
3. Hazelnuts – These are another fantastic type of nut, as they are rich in heart healthy nutrients such as vitamin E, folate, B vitamins and arginine, which all work together to reduce our risk of heart disease! Hazelnuts are also rich in iron and proanthocyanidins, which is really just a complicated name for a type of antioxidants that help to strengthen our blood vessels and prevent urinary tract infections!
4. Brazil Nuts A single Brazil nut provides your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant that fights free radicals and may play a role in preventing breast cancer. Brazil nuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Pecans – Firslty, Pecans have the highest antioxidant content among alllll nuts, which means they are most likely beneficial in lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and perhaps even Alzheimer’s Disease!  They are extremely high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that plays an important role in helping stop oxidation of blood lipids (fats) in our blood vessels and therefore may help prevent coronary heart disease! These little gems also contain more than 19 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, magnesium, folic acid and calcium among others, making them an ideal mid morning snack..or any time of day really!
Other great nut choices include:
Pistachios – which are high in cholesterol lowering plant sterols and have more potassium than most nuts, playing a role in the  regulation of blood pressure!
Cashews – have a lower fat content than a number of other types of nuts, and the fat they do contain is extremely healthy with about 75 percent being comprised of oleic acid, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. They are also a fantastic source of magnesium, which is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in many biochemical reactions in the body including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar levels, promoting normal blood pressure and heart rhythm and also supporting our immune systems and keeping our bones strong and healthy!
Macadamias – ahhh the old macca nut! Long been hailed a “not so healthy” choice of nut due to their extremely high fat content these delectable little Aussie icons contain very high levels of the monounsaturated fats (the good fats) and have been shown to help prevent oxidative stress and inflammation! So as long as your not devouring a pack a day these babies, they can be included as part of a healthy balanced diet when eaten in small amounts! Phhhewww!
And the other question I am often asked..are raw nuts really better for me than roasted??

Well though the jury is still out on this one, in my opinion it is always better to eat foods in their most natural state to ensure you get the most nutrients out of your food as possible! Though some preliminary studies have shown very little  difference in the nutrient content of raw and roasted nuts, roasting may potentially reduce the concentration of several B group vitamins (as they are not heat stable). Other studies have also suggested that roasting nuts changes their overall fat composition, destroying some of the heart healthy properties of the nuts!  Additionally, many roasted nut varieties are salted and therefore have a higher sodium content than raw nuts. So yes, in my opinion raw is definitely better for you! If you only like like the roasted varieties however, choose those that are only lightly roasted (or roast them yourself) and avoid those that are salted!

So, so far we have concluded that although they are high in fat, nuts are a great snack and should definitely be included as part of healthy balanced diet due to their wide range of health benefits.. but how do we know how many nuts constitutes a serve?
Well according to Nutrition Australia the following can be used as a rough guide to determine an average serve size (usually 30-50g) of the many different types of nuts…
A health-promoting daily intake of 30–50 grams of nuts is about one small handful.
30 g of nuts corresponds to approximately:
•20 almonds
•15 cashews
•20 hazelnuts
•15 macadamias
•15 pecans
•2 tbsp pine nuts
•60 pistachios in shells (30 g of kernels)
•10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves
•a small handful of mixed nuts
Happy Munching Everyone!
A