Posts Tagged ‘nuts’

Unrecipe of the Week: Roasted Nuts

September 3, 2015

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Nuts are a great snack. They are plant based, all natural and high in protein and heart healthy fats. That is until a commercial company gets ahold of them.

When I began my Whole 30 quest a couple of months ago, I became a stickler for reading labels on anything that had them. While most of the food I eat doesn’t come in a package, nuts are a whole food that typically does. When companies roast nuts, they add oil to them. Planter’s, one of the largest commercial nut companies adds peanut and/or cottonseed oil to thier nuts, as well as salt. Since legumes (peanuts and peanut oil) are off limits, as is cottonseed oil on Whole 30 and Paleo, I decided to roast my own.

Everyone I share my freshly roasted nuts with loves them. Nuts are already high in healthy unsaturated fats and don’t require any extra oil when roasted. By roasting them “naked” the flavor of the nut is enhanced, and not over powered by the flavor of the aditives. They are so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy those cans again.

How To Roast Nuts:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees*. Spread the nuts (I love cashews!) in an even layer on a baking sheet with sides. Roast in the oven for about 5 minutes, and shake the pan or stir the nuts to redistribute them. The nuts on the edges of the pan will brown much more quickly than those in the middle. Continue to roast the nuts until they are an even light brown color, and begin to release a delicous “nutty” smell. They will likely take about 10-12 minutes, but could take longer or shorter, so keep an eye on them. Beware; once they start to color, they brown very quickly! Remove from the oven and cool before enjoying.

Store in a glass jar after cooling.

*Smaller or more dense nuts may benefit from a slightly cooler oven temperature. If you are roasting pine nuts, for example, use a 300 or 325 degree oven, and watch them carefully.Time may vary due to the size and density of the nuts.

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What Would a Caveman(or Woman) Do?

October 23, 2013

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Back in prehistoric times, cave people were incredibly fit. They didn’t diet, and they didn’t workout. There was no gym, no Soul Cycle and no Crossfit to join.They didn’t count calories, and had no trendy food related ailments or phobias.

While the Paleo diet, based on how our ancestors ate in Paleolithic times has certainly become a craze, there is something to be said for eating and behaving like our forefolks did.

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Cavemen and women travelled everywhere by foot. They didn’t have cars, or subways, or even bicycles. Everywhere they went, they walked. Often, that journey was several miles per day. If a saber tooth tiger was chasing them, they ran: fast!  Reconsider your transportation choices and try walking where possible.

They hunted and gathered their own food, and never, ever called for take-out.     Procuring food was very physical, and preparing it was also a task. Think about the energy needed pick berries, hunt and skin animals and even the act of rubbing sticks together to create fire. While we don’t really expect anyone to be hunting and fishing in urban areas, the act of preparing your own food increases your activity level, and provides you the opportunity to prepare cleaner, healthier meals.

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Our prehistoric pals ate a diet rich in fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries. Fast food, sweet treats and refined carbs didn’t exist. Clean eating was a way of life.  If you aren’t ready to go Paleo, consider giving up things that come in packages and eat only fresh foods.

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Neanderthals had overdeveloped right arms, originally thought to be a result of carrying heavy spears. Recent findings from archeologists in Cambridge debunked this theory, citing the many hours spent scraping animal skins to make clothing as the reason for this discrepancy. What repetitive motion based chores do you do that require a little muscle?

Many of our health woes have emerged due to the conveniences of modern living. Before you jump in the car and drive to the fast food restaurant, ask yourself “ What would a cave man do?” The answer just might be the secret to good health.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Nut Nutrition in a Nutshell

September 24, 2013

I eat a lot of nuts. To me, they are close to the perfect food. They are natural, plant based, high in protein, portable, crunchy and delicious. They are also high in fat and calories. To know them is to love them, and  this infographic, courtesy of one my favorite websites, The Greatist, gives the lowdown on nut nutrition. (click to enlarge)

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Dukkah

May 31, 2013

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Every so often, a “new” item hits the culinary scene and suddenly foodies everywhere are talking about it. This recent discovery has been used in Egyptian cooking for centuries. Dukkah, derived from the word “dakka” means “to crush,” and it is essentially a blend of crushed nuts and spices often sprinkled over flatbread dipped in  olive oil. Since the variation of ingredients is so vast, it is only right that it’s uses are equally as broad.

The mainstream store bought version from Trader Joe’s contains almonds, sesame, fennel, coriander and anise seeds and kosher salt. It adds wonderful flavor when sprinkled over salmon filets, and surely it would be an enhancement to roasted vegetables, chicken or lamb.

While it’s easy and economical to let Trader Joe’s make it, making your own would allow for some variation in ingredients. Here is a simple base (un)recipe to get you started. Let your imagination run wild as you add flavors to enhance the simplest of dishes.

Dukkah:

1/2 cup toasted nuts, crushed. (put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin for easy crushing)

Try almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or even pistachios as a starter.

1/4 cup  sesame seeds 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon cumin,anise,or coriander seeds (or any mixture of seeds that suit your taste)

1/2 teaspoon or more kosher salt or sea salt

Consider adding dried herbs to the blend: mint, tarragon, thyme or basil

Toast the seeds lightly in a dry skillet, tossing to avoid over browning. Cool, and grind lightly in a spice grinder so they are crushed, but not turned to powder. Add to the nuts and mix. If you don’t have a grinder, give them a once over with the rolling pin before adding to the nuts. Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy!

photo: Indigo Jones

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Go Nuts

April 8, 2013

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I love nuts, and while they are really good for you, they are also packed with calories, fat and sodium. There is a great debate, as to whether or not nuts should be consumed roasted, or raw. While the calories and fat content differences are negligible, many nuts lose some nutritional value when roasted.

Cashews and peanuts are however, are better for you when cooked. Both nuts have an increase in antioxidant absorption when heated at temperatures over 140 degrees.

Almonds, on the other hand, as best eaten raw, as heat has an adverse effect on their cellular structure.

Roasting your own nuts is almost effortless, and allows you to control the overload of added fats and salt used in commercially roasted products.

Today, I roasted a bag of cashews in a hot oven for about 10 minutes or so (with no added oil) until golden brown, and added a small sprinkling of sea salt. The raw cashews had a calorie count of 160 per 1/4 cup, and no sodium, while the store bought roasted and salted version had a calorie total of about 190 and 877 mg. of sodium for the same amount.

Most commercially roasted nuts use extra oil in the process,which is unnecessary in achieving good flavor.

The nuts smelled wonderful and it was a real treat to eat a handful of them fresh out of the oven. You can also toss some chopped herbs such as rosemary into the mix, or a little cayenne powder to give the nuts an added zip.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Iron Maiden

August 14, 2012

Lately, I have been feeling exhausted. I have attributed it to everything from not sleeping well, the weather, over training, and just plain having too much to do.
Seeking a more tangible cure, I looked at my diet, which often holds the solution to my ails. Could I be anemic? I don’t eat red meat, and my spinach intake is not of Popeye proportions. I avoid gluten, which makes me sluggish, therefore I don’t eat iron fortified breads or cereals.  I could be onto something.

I immediately consulted Dr. Google, and who served up a list of iron rich foods.

There are definitely some pleasant surprises for those of us for whom eating liver is not an option!

While meat has the highest amount and easiest absorbed source of iron, there are many other healthy choices that I find more palatable.

Fish: Salmon, halibut, perch and tuna are all very high in heme or animal based iron, which is most readily absorbed by the body. Clams, oysters and mussels are also good sources, but I find them too slimy for my taste!

Beans: Canned Lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or split peas are all good options. Be sure to rinse them, to reduce the starchiness, and the calories.

Tofu

Pumpkin or sesame seeds

Baked potatoes

Broccoli

Sundried Tomatoes

Nuts: Peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachio, almonds, and cashews

Dried fruits: Raisins, apricots, peaches or prunes (do I sense a trail mix or homemade granola thing evolving here?)

Cocoa powder and chocolate

Dried Herbs:

The drying of fruits and vegetables ups the iron factor, topping its fresh counterpart dramatically. By removing the water, the nutrients are increased, as are the sugars and calories. Beware!

Food pairings are also an important factor in helping your body actually absorb the iron.

 Iron Enhancers:

Fruit and fruit juices, such as orange juice, cantaloupe, and strawberries

Vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and red or green peppers

White wine

Iron Inhibitors:

Red wine, coffee and tea (boo!)

Spinach, chard, beet greens and sweet potatoes (spinach?!) Apparently, these foods contain high levels of oxalic acids, which prevent the absorption of iron into the system. Who knew?

Whole grains and bran

Now that I know my diet is not to blame for being tired, its time to look at other factors. Perhaps powering down the computer might help me get a better night’s sleep?

photo:Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week

November 11, 2009

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These nuts combine the perfect blend of salty and sweet, and hot and spicy. It’s an easy way to make simple mixed nuts a special treat.

Warning: they can be addictive!

Spiced Nuts

1 1/4 pounds of mixed unsalted nuts (you can buy them mixed or create your own combination)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons coase salt

1 tablespoon melted butter

Toast the nuts in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and and toss the warm nuts in the mixture until evenly coated.

Enjoy!

Tip: Nuts go from warm to burnt very quickly. Check on them frequently, and shake the pan from time to time to avoid burning them.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week

August 25, 2009

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Chocolate Bark

This delicious confection packs lots of antioxidants making it a healthy choice!

Indulge in this yummy treat that is easy to make and wonderful to eat.

1 lb. bar of good quality dark chocolate, melted

A mix of nuts including cashews, pistachios and almonds ( about ¾-1 cup total)

Dried fruit, including apricots(chopped), raisins, and cherries ( about ¾-1 cup total)

Melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth.

Mix in the fruit and nuts

Spread mixture on parchment paper in a large rectangular shape and allow to cool

Cut into large pieces and peel away paper.

Enjoy!

Helpful hint: Use the microwave to melt chocolate, or use a double boiler (or a smaller pot set into a pot of slowly boiling water) to prevent the chocolate from burning. Stir often to keep the texture smooth.

photo: Glasshouse Images


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