Nuts were once considered forbidden treats because of their fat content. Dieters avoided them because they were thought to be nothing but fatty with empty calories. We now know that nuts are loaded with good, healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. These are all things that we want to have included in our daily diets.
Not only are they nutritional powerhouses, nuts are also delicious. They make a very satisfying snack in moderation. Nuts should always be eaten raw or dry roasted. Oily packaging or thorough roasting destroy much of the healthy aspects of nuts, along with adding bad fats and unwanted calories.
The best nuts, in terms of fat levels and number of calories, are almonds, cashews and pistachios. The worst nuts, if there is such a thing, are macadamias and pecans, having higher fat content and more calories, but they are still an acceptable and healthy choice when eaten in moderation.
How to add nuts into dishes
Nuts are also a wonderful addition to a wide variety of dishes. They add a unique flavor and an attractive crunch and mouth feel. They can be added raw, as well as cooked, or roasted. There are a wide variety of options if you want to add nuts to your kitchen cuisine. Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination.
For instance, if you want to add a nutty, savory flavor to a dessert that uses a crust, ground walnuts in your food processor and add them to the other crust ingredients. Using nuts in place of some or all of the white flour will give your crust a nutritious boost. You can also make a delicious, gluten-free crust using only nuts. There are dozens of recipes on the internet for variations on how to do this.
Asian food makes great use of nuts in stir-fried dishes. Do you want a fiery and delicious dish? Look no further than Kung Pao, which can be made with shrimp, chicken, beef or tofu. It includes peanuts along with a spicy sauce. The peanuts mesh well with whatever other protein you choose, and offer a satisfying crunch. Cashews are used in Chinese restaurant menu mainstay chicken with cashews. The flavor of the chicken blends well with the smooth, buttery flavor of the cashews. You can also make a stir-fry using nuts as the only protein. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts or cashews work well alongside a medley of assorted vegetables and a sauce of your choice.
Pesto uses nuts for both flavor and substance. Traditionally, pine nuts are combined with basil and Parmesan cheese to make a topping for pasta, baked potatoes or vegetables. However, you can think outside the box and use other nuts to make your own unique pesto. Walnuts and macadamia nuts in particular work well to make pesto variations. Because both walnuts and macadamias are fattier nuts, the resulting pesto you make with them will have a creamier consistency.
To really bring out the flavor in any nut, roast them in a 300 degrees Fahrenheit oven. Place them on a baking sheet and roast them for seven to 10 minutes.