Tag Archives: nuts

Make your own healthy “graze” snack boxes

So snacking, it’s one of those things I definitely do. I tend to eat my 3 meals and at least 2 snacks a day. Which means my snacks need to be healthy, well most of them! Currently I am breastfeeding which makes me quite hungry at times. It is those moments when I have children clamouring for me, a baby wanting to feed and I know I need to eat that I need a ready to grab and go snack. That moment when it could be biscuits. Although I do eat my share of those too, I’ve recently discovered a wheat free dark chocolate and stem ginger cookie… dangerously nice. So to keep me on the straight and narrow I’ve started making snack boxes. This is something I often recommed to clients and many find them so useful. You can literally make a pile up for the week and take one to work each day, keep them in your bag or just on the worktop if you are at home.

Here are some of my favourite combos:

15g Dried cranberries, 15 almonds and 10g dark chocolate


15g pecans, 15g dried apple, 1 tbsp dried edamame beans


15g cashews, 15g dried mango, 1 tsp mixed seeds


5 brazil nuts, 3 dried apricots, 1 tsp mixed seeds

Here is me trying out Facebook Live and showing off my not so great phone video skills:

Love to hear your healthy snack box combos. Leave me a message/comment so I can steal your ideas too 😉

I tend to buy my nuts and dried fruit in bulk online (it is cheaper per kg but costs a bit up front) and I store a supply in the cupboard and a supply in glass jars on my shelf. Which looks pretty and also means we all see them and are more likely to eat them instead of reaching into the biscuit tin. 

“Keep healthy food – In plain sight so it is in your mind to eat it”

A good example of this is my toddler boy who often asks for “prawns” and points at the jars… he means prunes! 


Why eating nuts can aid weight control.

A few things you may not know about almonds

The nutrition basics:

  • Almonds have a proven heart health claim. This is due to being high in monounsaturated fat and their vitamin E content. They are the tree nut with the highest amount of vitamin E. Proven to lower total and LDL cholesterol.
  • 1 handful of almonds contain a similar amount of polyphenols to 1 cup of green tea. 
  • They are low in glycaemic index and when eaten together they can lower the impact on blood sugars of other carbohydrate foods. 
  • 1 serving (1 oz) contains 12 vitamins and minerals (including folic acid, niacin, magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, copper and potassium) and 6 g protein. This protein helps provide a powerful satiating effect, so they keep you fuller for longer.
  • They are the nuts with the longest shelf life.
  • You need 2 types of almond trees present for pollination, as the bees need to carry pollen from 1 type of almond tree to another.

Heart Health:

2 large studies show the heart health benfits of nuts:

1. Nurses’ Health Study (over 86,000 nurses followed over 14 years)

2. the Adventist Health Study (followed over 27,000 men)

Dietitian UK: Why almonds are so good for you

In total these studies assessed the diets of over 110,000 men and women and after adjusting for other risk factors they linked the intake of five or more servings of nuts per week to a 35 – 50 percent reduction in risk of coronary heart disease incidence and death.

If nuts are high in fat, won’t eating them make me fat?

It sounds like common sense doesn’t it. However the evidence begs to differ. Nut eaters tend to come out at a lower body weight than non-nut eaters. Here is one example for you:

A 24 week weight loss interventional study on obese women compared:

Group A who ate 84g of almonds per day, equivalent to 3 portions of almonds per day. 

A low calorie diet 

39% total fat, 25% MUFA and 32% carbohydrate

Group B on a low calorie, complex carbohydrate diet. 

(18% total fat, 5% MUFA and 53% carbohydrate)

Both diets were equivalent calories and protein. The results showed a 62% greater reduction in weight/BMI, 50% greater reduction in waist circumference and 56% greater reduction in Fat mass in the almond-group.

Int J Obesity Related Metabolic Disease (2003): 27: 1365.

The Reasoning:

Firstly….You don’t absorb all the calories from nuts. That fact blew me away the first time I heard it and understood it. In fact I know now that we absorb different amounts calories from different nuts. The research is ongoing on this and some of it so new it is yet to be published. for the same nuts there is then a difference in the amount of energy we absorb for different nut products – whole, chopped, nut butters.

Secondly…. the calorie content of foods is not that accurate. It is calculated using conversion factors rather than being measured.  Digestibility is not taken into account. If we measured the urinary and fecal energy after eating almonds we would get a more accurate figure, but just getting someone to eat only almonds so we can so this is an extreme task. Some new research has looked at another way of doing this using a base diet with and without almonds. This highlighted that there is a definite difference between the food label calorie content and the measured calorie content of nuts.

The real calorie content of nuts is 5-21% lower than the labels tell us. It varies depending on the type of nut and the processing of the nut. 

Take Home Message:

Nuts are good, no, GREAT for you when eaten in sensible portion sizes. Obviously overeating them can lead to excess calorie intake and weight gain. However,  when eaten daily, in portion controlled amounts, they can help with weight control, satiety and provide a good heart health benefit too.

I personally love the portion tins you can get. 


A portion is described as: 1 oz, 2 tbsp, a small handful, 30g.

In actual numbers of nuts this is:

23 almonds, 18 cashews, 12 hazelnuts, 8 brazil nuts ,35 peanuts, 15 pecan halves or 14 walnut halves.

Dietitian UK: Nuts portion guide



Disclaimer: I recently attended a Round Table event for the Almond B0ard of California. Some of the information in this post has come from that day. This post was not paid for, nor was I asked to write it, it just interests me!

Almond Summer Bag Giveaway

The Almond Board of California have offered my followers some almond goodies! I have a wonderful Almond Summer Bag to give away. 

The Summer Bag contains:

  • Almonds, flavoured and roasted.
  • A portion controlled tin, perfect for putting your almonds in when on the go.
  • Almond Butter

Dietitian UK: Almond Hamper Giveaway

My Nut Story!

I’ll let you into a little secret… until just a few years ago I would have told you that I didn’t like nuts. It appears that I actually do, but I don’t like certain mixed of finely chopped nuts (e.g. on cakes) or hazelnuts, in fact just the thought of hazelnuts makes me feel queasy. Because of that association in my head I labelled nuts as off the menu.  There is so much variety in the world of nuts that I hadn’t yet tried though! 

Being around other people who ate a different variety of nuts and travelling exposed me to different flavours. Sri-Lanka is the home of amazing devilled cashews, there is a whole road full of just amazing cashew sellers. A trip to Florida opened my mind to pecans. Gradually I’ve got older and bolder! So almonds are also on my top nut list 🙂 Finally I can say I like most nuts, which makes me happy as they are just such a healthy, filling and nutritious snack. Just be wary of your portion control, keep to 1 handful!

Almond facts:

  • Almonds are a natural source of protein and fibre, containing 15 essential nutrients, including vitamin E and calcium.
  • Gram for gram, almonds have the most fibre of any tree nut.
  • A handful of almonds (30g) provides you with approximately 65% of your daily requirement of vitamin E.
  • A handful of almonds (30g) is a tasty way to keep you feeling full, helping you get through any busy day.
  • In a recent study, researchers used a more precise method of measuring the calories in almonds and found they have about 20% fewer calories than originally thought  (Novotny JA et al. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 2012 ajcn.035782; First published online July 3, 2012.doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.035782.)

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Marrakech Market Love

Marrakech. It’s sunny and full of Souks. I could literally spend hours wandering around the streets, brousing the beautiful goods on offer, and when I say beautiful, I mean beautiful. Think colourful woven shawls, rugs, leather and material bags of every colour you know, leather shoes with sparkles and bling, jewellery that calls your name, shiny silver teapots and painted glasses, lamps, lamps and more lamps. Oh my. This could be a dangerous place to holiday!

Dietitian UK: Marrakech Lanterns of beauty
Dietitian UK: Marrakech Lanterns of beauty

Those streets really make me smile, but the bit that makes my heart sing the most is of course the food stalls. Spices, herbs, mint tea sellers, nuts and dried fruit. Why are our UK markets not this colourful and exciting on a daily basis? We could learn a lot from other cultures who actually buy their food from the market, I’d say this is the “super” market way of doing things.

Dietitian UK: Marrakech Nutaliciousness.

Dietiitan UK: Marrakech Olives on the Market
Dietiitan UK: Marrakech Nuts and Olives on the Market


Coming out of the market there were at least 5 stalls selling freshly squeezed orange juice for 4 dhs, that’s 33 pence a cup. Wowsers. What a way to recover from the hustle and bustle, sensory overload and shopping 😉

Our first time around the Souks we paid for a guide and this was brilliant, we would have got lost otherwise – Google maps is unlikely to cover this area 😉 The Souks are divided into different areas: leather, lamps, bags, shoes etc… so much to choose from.

What do you like to do on holiday? For me it’s about enjoying the local food, soaking up the atmosphere and relaxing in good company.