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Mar 21

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Nuts and dried fruit.

Recently, I found a terrific source for nuts. Specifically, whole, raw cashews and pistachios. In searching for a supplier of nuts, I found that most companies do the unthinkable — roasting nuts in oil! This is completely unnecessary, because raw nuts are loaded with their own natural oil and do not need any additional oil for roasting. Roasting nuts in oil adds UN-needed calories and just makes them taste greasy. Many companies roast various nuts in peanut oil. Why would you want peanut oil on cashews or any nut other than peanuts? Most companies also add salt when roasting and that preference is not to my liking.

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Roasting nuts in cottonseed, palm or hydrogenated oils is even worse! These 3 oils, in particular, are very poor choices for human consumption. Cottonseed oil is known to be unhealthy due to the fact that it is a saturated fat. Cotton is not a food product. It is a textile. It is also high in pesticide residue because cotton is heavily treated with petrol-chemical pesticides when growing. Palm oil is also high in saturated fat. Not all saturated fats are bad for you, if used in moderation. Butter is a good example. Butter adds a rich and wonderful flavor to many recipes and it is unparallelled for use in baking. I am convinced that butter is a much better choice than oleo-margarine.

Dr. Andrew Weil has written extensively about maintaining a healthy diet. In his book, 8 Weeks To Optimum Health, he prescribes a dietary plan for improving your overall health and to better your life. Here is a link to his site. There is plenty of other great info there.

Nuts.com offers a great selection of nuts and dried fruits as well as a wide variety of other delicious products. Their prices are competitive. The products are fresh and delivery is fast. They ship their nuts in a resealable bag too. I highly recommend them as a source for quality nuts and dried fruits.

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The picture above, shows (from center bottom going clockwise): dried apricots, cranberries, pineapple. roasted cashews, dried apples and toasted almonds in the center of the plate.

Dried fruits, like apricots, dates and raisins are healthy snacks and a far better alternative to munching on chemical laden or sugar saturated junk foods. I have a food dehydrator for drying some fruits, herbs, veggies and other items harvested from the home garden. Dehydrating foods is a good way to preserve them for later use. It is also a good way to pack foods for camping and backpacking where weight and space are a primary consideration. Apricots are difficult to dry at home due to their thickness and high moisture content. It is easier and more cost effective to just purchase them. Raisins are abundantly available so I don’t bother to dry grapes to make raisins. Unsweetened, canned pineapple is intensely sweet when dried in the dehydrator, as are mandarin oranges. Apples with a light coating of cinnamon are delicious and easy to dry quickly at home.

I like to mix up some dried fruits with a good quality granola/gorp (usually an oat based with some other grains like brown rice) type cereal. It is a lightweight and highly nutritious snack food for the trail and for travel. Any combination of; dried pineapple, cranberries, raisins, dried cherries, mandarin oranges, apples, pears, apricots, added to make your favorite gorp along with some dry roasted nuts, like almonds and cashews and toasted seeds (sunflower or sesame) makes a great trail-mix or travel snack. Sometimes, I like to add a small amount of chocolate chips or carob chips to add another dimension to the mixture! See the picture below.

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