It’s the end of summer and kids are heading back to school. Schedules are ramping back up, and fitting in nutritious meals can be a chore for families on the move. Nuts can be a great way to add some fun to meals, as well as protein and essential vitamins and minerals to ensure you and your children have what is needed to get through the day. And, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) contain a package of healthy fats and fiber to help keep you satiated.
Here are some ideas for quick weeknight meals using your favorite tree nuts:
Nut Butter and Jelly Toast with Soup – A bowl of soup isn’t complete without a chunk of bread, so why not appeal to your kid’s (and secret adult) fancy by spreading it with some nut butter and jelly. Simply place a selection of roasted or raw nuts in a food processor or blender with a small splash of oil, adding more if necessary, until you reach the texture you prefer. Store any leftover nut butter in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
Nut Crusted Fish Fingers – It is well known that we should eat more fish, and here’s a way to give it a crunch and flavor that kids love. It’s also a way to cook fish that is mess and odor-free for those that don’t like fishy aromas in the kitchen. Try using fish such as halibut, cod, ling, rockfish, seabass and salmon. Grind nuts to a coarse meal and toss with an equal quantity of panko, breadcrumbs or ground cereal flakes. Coat fish all over with yogurt, then roll in the crumb mixture. Bake on a lined oven tray at 350° until golden and fish just flakes when pressed with a fork.
Taco Tuesday – Try some toasted nuts, such as pine nuts and pecans, sprinkled over the top of tacos, or in burrito fillings.
Nutty Veggie Burgers – Shred four cups of seasonal vegetables such as zucchini, squash, cabbage and/or carrots; add some fresh herbs and about ½ cup chopped nuts in a large bowl. Add one half cup of breadcrumbs or cooked rice, two eggs and mix—squeezing with your hands until you can form burgers. Roll in breadcrumbs or panko, and grill or pan fry in a little olive or nut oil until golden brown.
Asian Inspirations with Nuts – Many Asian cultures include nuts in their dishes, whether to thicken curry, add to South-East Asian inspired lettuce cups, enhance noodle dishes, or add to fried rice dishes like Nasi Goreng. It’s a great way to use up leftover rice, and tossing in a handful of toasted nuts means you don’t have to worry about running to the store for meat or prawns. Kids love lettuce cups, where you simply pile noodles, prawns or chicken, green onion and cucumber into butter, ice berg, romaine or other lettuce leaves and sprinkle with nuts.
Macaroni and Cheese Bake – Add some vegetables to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe and place in a greased oven dish. Scatter with chopped nuts and parmesan cheese and bake until nuts are golden.
Nibbling Platter – Sometimes there’s nothing nicer than arranging an assortment of food on a big platter and just grazing – it’s easy, casual and often makes you eat a bit slower. Here’s a start for your own designer platter: try cheese, sliced apples, pears or seasonal fruits, smoked fish or Prosciutto, crackers, honey and nuts.