There is no question that if I considered lentils humble last week, I would say nuts are the exact opposite! They are bold and brazen! There is nothing discreet about them. In fact, they define the dishes they are in by asserting their rich nutty taste and their crunchy texture! I love nuts! In fact, I am nuts about them! I can be so emphatic about them because there is nothing like nuts to bring out the creative muse in me! Nutritionally, they are also great to add to a balanced diet because they confer so many health benefits. David helped me with this part–check out what he had to say about nuts:
a good source of protein
good for your heart and help lower your cholesterol
I have picked 4 varieties of nuts this week: walnuts, pistachios, almonds and peanuts (it turns out peanuts are a legume, not a nut, read on!). Each one creates a texture and a flavor all its own and I have used them in savory as well as sweet dishes.
Walnuts are among the most nutritious of all nuts. They are a concentrated source of omega-3 fat; an excellent source of both protein and fiber; and a good source of folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, along with other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. No wonder I find excuses to use walnuts in my cooking! My Walnut-Crusted Wild Salmon is a power couple dish, Cuisinicity style, and really, really simple to make! There are all of 2 ingredients in this dish (beside a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper)–that’s it! Talk about assertive! This dish always amazes me! Then there is my Walnut Basil Pesto Halibut. I love that one too. Interestingly, the combination of fresh basil and walnuts give it a distinct superb flavor all its own. I also like to sneak walnuts in my smoothies sometimes, as in this Berry Nutty Fig Smoothie. For dessert (at least that’s how I started out thinking of this next recipe featuring walnuts) are my Raspberry Crumb Cakes. I started out by creating these as a dessert, but as I fine-tuned their recipe, they ended up so wholesome, I decided that they actually make a lovely addition to an elegant Sunday brunch. Oh, and I just created the best wholegrain pancakes ever (!)–Try my http://cuisinicity.com/?s=pumpkinand just melt!
Pistachios are a great source of monounsaturated fat, protein and fiber and a rich source of potassium. I only have one recipe featuring pistachios this week, but WOW, is it scrumptious, well-worth its place at the table! The pistachios in this Lemon Pistachio Chicken create the creaminess of the sauce and the wine, combined with the fresh lemon juice and zest give it a delightful tangy flavor. I love this nut! I have the feeling there will be many more recipes to come exploring its versatility in desserts as well, but that’s for another day!
Almonds are a great source of both mono- and poly-unsaturated oils protein and fiber. They are a concentrated source of vitamin E, and good source of B vitamins and potassium. Oh My goodness, what would I do without my almonds?!! I would say that, culinarily, they are the most discreet of all the nuts. I say that because, although they are very flavorful on their own, and indeed I have used them all by themselves to crust a tilapia filet or a chicken breast, they can just blend in a dessert just to give it that rich “buttery” taste. You don’t really know they are there! They just create that rich, moist lusciousness that I love in my desserts. I am featuring a few of my desserts this week to spotlight them: Almond chocolate chip cookies, Mocha Brownie Bites, Apple Almond Cobbler, Peach Almond Cobbler, Almond Oat Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies, Almond Quinoa Cake and Almond Banana Smoothie. These speak for themselves!
Peanuts are actually a legume, related to lentils rather than a nut! Who knew?!! I always thought they were nuts, as the name would imply, but oops, thank goodness David corrected me on this one! In any case, they are a good source of protein, unsaturated fats and fiber. They are a good source of iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins. Good old peanuts! What I especially appreciate about them is that kids in this country are so familiar with their taste, that they just love them. So for me, it’s an opportunity to sneak nutrition in treats for kids. For example, my Katz Flax Crisps are the healthy and nutritious version of the conventional rice crisps, and of course, there is my Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Panini which kids gobble up (adults too!). While this seems very ‘indulgent,’ there is method in my madness! The details in the ingredients I choose actually show its high quality nutrition.
So there you have it…in a nutshell (I couldn’t resist!!!). I promise I will post more as I create them on my new “Nuts & Seeds” glossary page in my Tips so you can always find nuts and seeds WHEREVER I sneak them in! I just added an amazing Hazelnut Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies recipe….