As we are nearly halfway through 2016 (astounding, isn’t it?), let’s revisit this year’s dietary goal of including more “healthy fats” into our daily fare.
Healthy fats are considered “good fats” that have health benefits. They help keep our hearts healthy, brains and memories sharp, and skin smooth. Foods with healthy fats include fish, nuts, eggs, avocados, oils and flaxseed.
According to an article in Today’s Dietician, an online magazine for nutrition professionals, incorporating healthful fats is our everyday food choices is easy if we keep a few things in mind:
- Eat fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines, tuna) at least twice weekly.
- Snack on a handful of nuts instead of sweets or chips.
- Add ground flaxseed to cereals, soups and smoothies.
- Add texture and creaminess to a sandwich with avocado.
- When baking, replace 1/4 cup of butter with 3 T. of olive or canola oil.
- Substitute all or one-half of the butter in your recipe with canola oil.
- Check ingredient lists for canola, sunflower, soybean or olive oils. Choose these over partially hydrogenated oils.
My family eats a lot of roasted, toasted and raw nuts; mostly almonds, peanuts and walnuts. So for a change of pace, I’ve been experimenting with hazelnuts.
Now, most folks aren’t too familiar with hazelnuts unless they read the ingredients on the back of a Nutella jar. I don’t think the chocolate hazelnut spread would fall into the “healthy fats” category (darn, I know), but it has put hazelnuts on the food radar.
In the United States, hazelnuts are grown in Oregon and Washington state. When my husband was a boy growing up in Oregon, his aunt and uncle had a filbert orchard that he remembers visiting on occasion. Uncle Fred would prune the hazel trees while Aunt Bee made enchiladas for everyone who came to visit.
Hazelnuts are a good source of healthy fats, especially oleic acid. Oleic acid can help raise levels of good cholesterol while lowering levels of bad cholesterol in the body. They are high in both poly and mono unsaturated fats.
Additionally, hazelnuts are high in Vitamin E, an important vitamin in retaining healthy hair, skin and nails, and Vitamin B, which fuels cell and energy metabolism.
This week’s recipe comes from Parade magazine that is in the Sunday L.A. Times. It includes asparagus, which is currently in season, and two heart healthy fats: olive oil and, of course, hazelnuts.
Asparagus Hazelnut Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. asparagus
- 3 cups cooked quinoa
- 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions (green onions)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Whisk together the lemon zest and juice with vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly for several minutes to incorporate all ingredients. Set aside.
Trim woody ends of asparagus and discard ends. Cut spears into 1-inch pieces. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place a large bowl of ice water next to stovetop. Cook asparagus 2 to 4 minutes or just until crisp tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water. When cool to the touch, drain well and spread on paper towels to absorb remaining water.
Combine asparagus with cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Toss with about 1/4 cup of vinaigrette or enough to coat all the ingredients. Add hazelnuts, scallions and mint and gently toss. Add salt and pepper and toss again. If needed, add more vinaigrette to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.