Posted October 22, 2016
Nuts are high in healthy fats. They're high in protein and fiber. They provide a bunch of nutrients such as Vitamin E, several sorts of B vitamins, minerals such as calcium and iron, antioxidants – and more.
Why do nuts provide so many nutrients?
It's because they are fruits and seeds. And seeds are baby plants that must include lots of food for the plant until it can sprout and grow and leaf out – and start producing new food using sunlight!
Not all plant seeds are called nuts. Nuts are what we call fruits that have a hard (either stony or woody) outer shell (which is the ovary wall), when the seed remains either attached or fused to that shell.
So...nuts include almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and pistachios.
You may realize that all of these nuts grow on trees. You may wonder why peanuts are NOT on the list...or you may already know that peanuts do not grow on trees, but rather underground. Therefore, peanuts are not nuts (botanically speaking); they are legumes.
However, peanuts have many of the sorts of nutrients and proteins that tree nuts have, so they are often consider a sort of nut when we are talking about food groups.
Other seeds that are not botanically true nuts may be considered in the nut food group. I'm talking pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and so forth.
Are you nuts about nuts?
Of course, a few people are allergic to either tree nuts, peanuts, or both. But most of us enjoy nuts in our candy, cookies, and other desserts, in our salads and sandwiches, in our quinoa or rice dishes, in our cooked veggies and our snacks and our breads (and maybe even our pizza dough!). Ground up nuts can be used as flour or as sandwich spread (such as almond butter) or as a sort of protein powder (say, in smoothies).
Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat nuts:
I adore almonds, and especially almonds in baked goods, and MOST especially almonds in cookies. The very best of the very best, in my opinion, are the ricciarelli at Arizmendi Bakery in Oakland, California!
Trader Joe's makes some awesome almond cereals. The one with cranberries and almonds is my top pick!
I love almond paste in the form of homemade marzipan "fruits" - or combined with slivered almonds in pastries.
Another great way to eat almonds is in cooked green beans! Love 'em!
One of the yummiest ways to eat walnuts is in baklava.
Everyone in my family adores our Christmas tradition of lemon pecan loaf.
One of my favorite ice cream flavors is pistachio ice cream.
Did I mention that I love cookies? Well, macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips in cookies is really yum!
And - if we include peanuts in this extrava-nuts-za - I dearly love peanut butter on a crisp, slightly tart apple!
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