This is a post sponsored by ATKINS, all opinions are my own.
I want to share with you a wellness and active lifestyle challenge that can help establish a healthy lifestyle, but first let’s talk about nuts.
When I started taking my nutrition more seriously, I did what many of us do when we try to manage our weight: I villainized fats. I cut out as many fats as possible from my diet. I only purchased fat-free products and even avoided olive oil and avocados. However, eventually I realized that a no/low-fat lifestyle was not sustainable for me. It was time to try something else.
As I learned more about food and nutrition, I came to the realization that fats were not the enemy. Yes, per gram, fats have more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and proteins. However, cutting them out of my diet was not the answer to establishing a sustainable healthy lifestyle. A better approach was to increase the quantity of unprocessed foods and reduce the consumption of refined carbohydrates that lead to the “hidden sugar effect” – when carbohydrates convert to sugar when digested. You don’t see the sugar, but your body does.
One yummy, fatty, unprocessed group of foods that you can enjoy are nuts (assuming that you are not allergic to them). Nuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (49% to 74%) and contain a decent amount of protein (9%-20%). They are also chock full of nutrients, including B group vitamins, vitamin E and minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
There are so many nutty options out there! The nuts that I frequently purchase are almonds. Their fat content is on the lower end of the scale. 1 ounce of almonds contains 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 3.5 grams of fiber. I also consume a lot of peanuts. 1 ounce of dry roasted peanuts has 14 grams of fats, 7 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber.
Macadamia nuts, on the other hand, I very rarely purchase because I feel like they should be reserved for special occasions. Of the nuts with which I am familiar, Macadamia nuts have the highest fat content (>70%); remember, fats are not a bad thing. 1 ounce of macadamia nuts contains 21 grams of fats, 2.2 grams of protein, 3.9 grams of carbohydrates, 2.4 grams of fiber. Years ago, this fat content would have scared me, but now I embrace fats. Just like any food, however, overconsumption of nuts can compromise your fitness goals.
While working on this post I learned that Atkins 40 suggests getting some of your daily net carbs from nuts. For example, you can 1/2 Cup serving of macadamia nuts, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/2 Cup of almonds throughout the day.
Fats are our friend and we just need to be mindful of how we incorporate them. For this low-carb recipe I used two types of nuts. Almonds are used for the flour and macadamia nuts were added for texture and flavor. Blondies just don’t seem complete without macadamia nuts to me.
Since almond flour does not have gluten (the protein found in wheat flour), I added Atkins Vanilla Protein Powder to improve the flavor and texture of the blondies. This protein powder is also great for smoothies. It has 15 grams protein, 5 grams of fiber and 2g net carbs. It also comes in Milk Chocolate.
Now, back to that challenge I mentioned earlier. I’m all about making meaningful (sometimes small) changes that lead to sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits. So, if you are looking for additional fitness and healthy living motivation, you can sign up for the ATKINS 28 Day Choose Wisely™ Challenge. This wellness challenge is designed to help you establish healthy eating habits in all aspects of your life while living low carb. You can sign up to participate in the Atkins online community.
Let’s get to cooking! Try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Prep Time: 10 minutes . Cook Time: 25 minutes . Yield: Serves 12
2 Scoops Atkins Vanilla Protein Powder
1 1/2 Cup Almond Flour
1/2 Cup Macadamia Nuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Truvia
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare an 8×8 baking pan by lining it with parchment paper or applying cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and Truvia; lightly beat until combined.
- In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients (except for nuts): almond flour, Atkins Vanilla Protein Powder, baking powder and salt.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl. Mix well. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the macadamia nuts.
- Pour the batter in the baking pan and spread into an even layer (to the best of your ability).
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until tester comes out clean and the blondies are golden. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting into 12 equally sized pieces.