After the birth of my second child, I set an athletic goal. I was going to run a marathon.
At 27 years old I weighed 210 pounds and had struggled with my weight for as long as I could remember. I decided my days of "dieting" were over. I educated myself on the importance of proper training and fuelling my body. I learned that heart- healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates were all key nutrients in a runner's diet. Snacking was going to play a very important role in my goal of becoming an athlete. This was news to me, as for years, I thought in order to lose weight I had to restrict snacks. From my homework, refueling after a long training run was just as important as the training!
Within days of my research, I concocted a delicious post-workout meal, a peanut butter mocha shake made with all natural peanut butter, frozen sliced banana, chocolate whey protein powder and chilled brewed coffee. I'd pop all the ingredients in a blender, pulse and refuel. Peanuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews had become popular items in my grocery cart. I never left home without containers of my homemade trail mix - a variety of nuts, dried fruit and seeds. For the first time in my life I was losing weight without feeling deprived and felt more energized than I had in my life.
Within 18 months of setting my goal, I ran the Ottawa marathon - 26.2 glorious miles. Today, almost a decade later, I continue to set athletic goals, have lost and kept off 70 pounds and always have peanuts on hand to snack on. Nuts have even become a staple in my day-to-day meal preparation as a topping to casseroles, tossed into salads and added to my turkey burgers for crunch and protein. A Saturday morning in our home is not complete without a batch of peanut butter and honey pancakes.
Nuts have played a significant role in my weight loss success and overall well being. Nuts are loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre and are an economical plant-based protein source. Best of all, they fuel my active lifestyle.
Charmaine Broughton-Dunn is a chef, food writer, marathon runner, triathlete and 70-pound-weight-loss success.