Nutrition used to be easy. In the 1970s, Nutrition Nelson advised school children to eat “3-2-4-4. Never less, often more.” But as attention to varied lifestyles and health concerns grows, it’s not always that simple to know what your body needs. Grains used to be one of the higher recommended food groups-at the foundation of the food pyramid, in fact. Currently. the USDA recommends half of the plate be filled with fruits and vegetables, with only a fourth going to grains.
So if people aren’t eating grains, what should we be eating? I talked to nutrition expert Melanie Banders of Purenola about health and healthy alternatives including nuts..
Why are nuts and seeds better for you than grains?
The short story is that, overall, grains in general tend to be less nutrient-dense than nuts and seeds. Lately, the popularity of grain free, gluten free items in the market has misled many people into thinking that simply cutting out these items will create a healthy diet. It is not my intention to vilify grains, as all grains are not created equal. Most of our diets need some whole grains to maintain balance (the exception being those with an intolerance or allergy to gluten or grain based ingredients). Many gluten free or grain free foods contain extra fillers and may even offer fewer benefits than their gluten/grain containing counterparts. The other secret most people don’t know is that if they aren’t soaked and rinsed to break down the enzyme inhibitors they are believed to contain, raw nuts and raw seeds can also be challenging for your body to process and digest. Overall, the biggest issue is the amount of processed foods people are consuming in today’s diet.
What about those who aren’t necessarily allergic to nuts but have problems digesting them?
People need to listen and pay attention to what works best for their own body. What most people don’t realize when they reach for a handful of raw nuts is that in order for our bodies to maximize their beneficial minerals, enzymes and nutrients, they should be soaked and rinsed properly. Many people feel just fine after eating a handful of nuts from the package, but I find myself suggesting to people to take some raw nuts (preferably organic and unpasteurized), submerge them in filtered water for around 12 hours and take a look at what comes off of them…then consider if that is something you want in your body. And I would also like to add, as with most things in life…everything should be consumed in moderation.
A crunchy breakfast or energy bar has made a comeback. But what had been available in the past may have started the engines but it wasn’t always healthy, was it?
Many consumers reach for the easiest and quickest way to get their energy levels up and head out the door to begin their day. More often than not, most don’t realize the amounts of added oils, soy based products, gums and other chemicals that are (needlessly) used in place of natural and more healthful whole ingredients. It’s always best to read the label and beware of certain items that manufacturers sneak into bars to help them to last longer on the shelves despite being labeled as “all natural”.
How do you manage to get the thinness and pliability of nuts and seeds?
Once you add in the process of soaking, many more opportunities open up for the use of nuts and seeds. One result we enjoy from our process of soaking, sprouting, rinsing and drying raw nuts at low temperatures is a lighter, crunchier texture. PUREnola is the result of many trials and errors in terms of the type of texture I was looking for specifically, and our customers seem to appreciate that.
What other aspects makes your products unique and what is on the horizon?
As I mentioned above, there are a number of ways that PUREnola is a unique addition to the cluster food category. Most people cannot believe there is no grain, gluten or refined sugars. They’re always asking how we get it to be so light. We stick to a higher quality list of ingredients than many others and we maintain the natural goodness of the nuts and seeds, giving it a much lighter, flakier crunch than other granolas or nut snacks containing “heavier” ingredients. We are constantly updating our seasonal flavors each month and looking for fun and interesting combinations that surprise and excite our customers. We are also expanding PUREnola as an ingredient into other food items where an added crunch is enjoyed.
The beauty of PUREnola is its wide reach – from cafe breakfast and dessert menus, to local artisan markets and our latest addition are corporations adding us to their in-house employee menus to liven things up a bit in the workplace – people taste this modern reinvented healthful food, and just can’t help going back for more.