Earlier, I wrote to suggest that one of the keys to a successful diet, exercise and weight loss plan is to plan to snack as a remedy to uncontrolled or unplanned “impulse eating”.
One of my favorite snacks, it turns out, is a hand full of almonds.
I wasn’t always a big almond fan, but one experience – in a bar, of all places – changed that.
Having just driven seven hours, racing north just ahead of a snow storm, I arrived safely at a lovely lodge at the base of one of the ski slopes of Killington Vt., with my family (my wife, son and daughter) and another family we’re friends. After dinner in a unexpectedly good restaurant “on premises” with spent a magical evening relaxing in the lodge’s (small hotel) outdoor heated swimming pool as the storm began to settle in. The kids frolicked, the wives sipped wine and I enjoyed a cigar with my friend Dennis. It was a perfect evening, but even in a heated pool, the heavy snowfall eventually chased us inside.
Not wanting the perfect evening to end Dennis and I, still in bathing suits, wandered into the smallish – but “just right” – hotel bar. Since things were slow the bartender didn’t chase us out, as the sign indicated he should if we appeared in swimsuits.
And that was when my eyes came to rest upon the biggest bowel of “bar nuts” I have even seen. Actually two bowels – the size of punch bowels – one filled with cashews and the other filled with lightly salted almonds.
And that is how I spent the next two hours, with one hand on a mug of been and one hand passing first to the bowel of my “once and only favorites” – cashews – to my new found friend, the lightly salted almonds.
Now you will notice I’ve used that almost marketing-ly sounding phrase, “lightly salted”, twice. There’s a reason for it: I want to emphasize three things. One, anyone who has eaten the free “bar food” knows that bars make money by getting customers to drink and one thing that aids that goal is salt. Lots of it. And, frankly, I’m not a big fan of excess salt. Two, that the nuts – almonds – were lightly salted took nothing whatsoever away from the experience of enjoyment. Lastly, who needs more salt when your trying to lose weight, get your blood pressure down, etc.?
Since that time, more than a decade ago, almonds have become my friend and are even endorsed by the food police: my wife and children. (Yes, they care. so they critique what I eat.)
The following “facts” are from the California Almond Board:
You get a lot of nutrition from every California Almond. And just 1 ounce (28 grams):
- Is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin E and magnesium.
- Provides 6 grams protein and 3.5 grams fiber.
- Is a source of calcium (8% DV), potassium (6% DV), phosphorus (15% DV), and iron (6% DV).
- Has 13 grams of “good” unsaturated fat.
- Has only 1 gram of saturated fat and always cholesterol free.
Isn’t it nice when you can enjoy what you eat and not suffer for it?
Of course, even when it comes to good foods, the “too much of a good thing” effect applies. Almonds aren’t exactly a low or no calorie food, and being tasty little things you can find yourself digging into the bowel or jar a little mindlessly.
My advice? Little Ziploc snack bags, the small ones, filled with a “single serving” number of almonds.