Any knowledgeable vegetarian will tell you how versatile nuts are, and what an excellent source of unsaturated oils, proteins, vitamins and minerals they are.
And, any gourmet will tell you that nuts add style, character and delicious new flavors to dishes as different as chicken or ice cream. So, if you tend to think of nuts as just a pre-meal appetizer you should do some rethinking.
This fine versatile family of natural foods can add to dozens of energy packed tasty dishes, salads, main meals, cakes, cookies, etc …which will give your meals a completely new texture and taste.
Some people still think of nuts as second-class protein because unlike animal-based foods, they lack two of the essential amino acids we require. But those two missing protein elements are present in so many other foods .. . green vegetables and legumes for example, as well as in eggs and dairy products, that unless you are a nut fanatic, and eat nothing else but nuts, any of the above foods will supply the necessary complete proteins.
That’s why nuts are not a second-class substitute for meat. On the contrary, they are not only high in protein but also in B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and unsaturated fats.
You would find it very difficult to put together any kind of meat dish that would even come close in value to a small dish of nuts.
Many nuts are between 50 to 60 percent oil. See this for yourself by leaving some chopped nuts on a paper napkin for several minutes…the oil will quickly stain the paper.
Nut oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E, the kind that helps keep your brain and nervous system working at optimum health.
But, this high oil content also means a high caloric value, 5-10 nuts as a snack have been the downfall of many a reducing diet. They look so small and harmless but every ounce of Brazil nuts, for example, equals 183 calories. That’s the equivalent of four large apples; certainly not a dieter’s snack! However, the high calorie count should be seen in a more positive light.
You don’t have to eat many nuts to get a meal’s worth of energy and valuable nutrition.
That means that nuts are not quite as expensive as they seem. You are buying a very concentrated food. The price of nuts fluctuate every year with the world’s crops but they all cost about the same, except for chestnuts. Peanuts, by the way, are not true nuts; they are part of the legume family, growing in pods like beans.
Nuts in their shells are freshest and best. You can keep them for months in air tight jars or cans. Should you buy shelled nuts, it is much better to buy whole ones rather than chopped or broken nuts which become rancid quickly. Even whole, shelled almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc. won’t keep fresh for more than three or four months. The warmer the weather and the hotter the storage place, the quicker rancidity develops. So keep them in a cool, dry, airy place.
If you buy shelled nuts remember that they have already been dried to some extent. You can freshen them and pick up their flavor by soaking them in water, as you would dried fruit for 24 to 48 hours.
Your breakfast cereals such as granola or muesli can be nutritionally improved by adding ground or chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts or filberts. They add to the protein value and make a pleasant crunchy contrast to the smooth texture of the cereal.
A nut-butter spread for your toast makes a healthy change from butter and jam. Put two cupfuls of nuts into your blender and grind for one minute to chop finely. Remove. Place one quarter cup back into your blender again, add one tablespoon of oil and blend until creamy. Remove blender top and add balance of the ground nuts. Blend until a crunchy texture is achieved . . . longer for smoother consistency. Add a little more oil, if necessary.
Rough chopping of nuts can be done with a knife. For finer grinding put them through a Moulinex grinder. (Purchased in any health food store).