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Nuts on the Thanksgiving Table

Thankfully the world is gradually returning to a pre-pandemic state, and we can gather families and friends around the Thanksgiving table. As we look to create something special to celebrate, nuts can enhance so many of our traditional and not-so-traditional dishes. Here are some ideas to jazz up your Thanksgiving table with tree nuts.

Thanksgiving Toast – The party begins with a glass of bubbles or cider, and there’s no better accompaniment than a bowl of roasted nuts. They’ll keep your hunger craving at bay until the feast arrives.

Soup for starters – Switch from squash soup to our Mediterranean Carrot soup with a sweet and sour nut and dried fruit topping. Very fitting for a Fall table!

Stuffing – Add some crunch to your stuffing mix with nuts such as walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts, and perhaps the sweet touch of cranberries or currants.

Go Nuts with your Turkey – There are many ways to add some nuts to your turkey aside from the stuffing. Try bringing an Italian flair with either a pesto or a Spanish Romesco – you can substitute any tree nuts in these recipes. If you’re just going with roasted breasts, make a crumb of chopped nuts, cheese and mixed fresh herbs to crust the outsides.

Sweet Potato Casserole – Give your casserole a nutty sweet topping as the crowning glory. A scattering of pistachios, pecans and/or pine nuts, mixed with brown sugar and a few dollops of butter, turns a side into a treat! This is especially great if you have a non-meat eater in the group!

Green Beans –  Green beans and sliced toasted almonds are made in heaven, just with a kiss of honey, lemon zest and butter, and hazelnuts bring a beautiful earthiness to this green bean dish. Cashews and macadamias are also lovely with beans, but especially with pan roasted Brussel sprouts!

Nut Pastry for your Pie? – Pastry made with nuts makes a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pastry. Try an Apple Gallette to use up the last of the season’s apples. Or if you want to go more traditional, here’s a part Pumpkin Pie, part cheesecake that’s sure to please anyone.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Nutty Chef!

Around the World in 5 Nutty Desserts

It’s National Dessert Day and we decided to pay tribute to some of the many wonderful desserts enjoyed around the world, where nuts are a key ingredient!

Baklava – The first known record of Baklava dates back to 800BC in the Assyrian empire. Now credited to Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines, that sweet and sumptuous layering of filo dough, honey and spiced nuts can be found all around the world. Here’s a classic Greek recipe for you to try!

Schnecken – This traditional German pastry is also commonly found in Austria, France and Northern European countries. A pastry formed into the shape of a snail (translation of Schnecken), is glazed and dusted with nuts. This version, which you’ll find on our website, is made with hazelnuts.

Macaroons (Macarons) – The dessert you have when you’re not having dessert, these small nut-based meringues are filled with a succulent cream and come in a range of flavors. Fabulous with coffee or tea, they are now very popular in cafes around America. Here is one featuring almonds and a sweet raspberry filling.

Gelato – Who would say no to a classic Italian gelato, which often includes a base of nuts such as pistachio, nocciola (hazelnut) or almonds? Gelato is traditionally made using a milk-based custard rather than cream, so it’s often lower in fat and sugar than ice cream. An Indian version called Kulfi, uses condensed sweetened milk, saffron, turmeric, pistachios and cashews, and is perfect after a curry dish!

Rosewater Rice Pudding with Nuts and Pomegranate – There are many versions of sweet rice puddings from Lebanon, which use the floral notes of rosewater and a dusting of nuts, to Asia and Britain where either ginger or nutmeg lift the sweet rice and are always more appealing with a sprinkling of nuts!

Bon Appétit!

International Nut Day

Celebrated on October 22, International Nut Day was initially created in 2015 to support small nut farmers around the world, educate consumers about the many benefits of nuts, and encourage healthier snacking! It’s a day to celebrate the history and diversity of nuts, which have been a staple in the diet for over 780,000 years.

Here are just a few reasons to go nuts every day:

Flavor – Nut flavors run the gamut, from the slightly sweet cashews and pistachios, to the rich velvety macadamias and pine nuts, and earthy almonds and pecans. And then there’s roasted nuts, which bring a whole new dimension to the experience. Nuts add a certain flair to any meal and are fun to experiment with in the kitchen.

Texture – Think sliced toasted almonds scattered over green buttery beans, a walnut basil pesto tossed through pasta, roasted hazelnuts over your next arugula salad, or that unique burst of flavor from a Brazil nut in fruit cake. Nuts add a delicious crunch to any meal and make a great thickener to casseroles and soups when pureed.

Health – Nutrition in a nut shell, tree nuts contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and so much more. And each nut has its own special attributes so it’s great to get a mixture of them all! Go to our website to learn more about the nutritional benefits of each tree nut.

Satiety – Nuts have been used for centuries to provide sustenance and satiety to civilizations. Often being stored through the colder months when other crops are unavailable, nuts were one of the only sources of food that could be stored for longer periods and provide a long lasting energy. If you’re on a long hike, road trip or even just working long hours, there’s nothing better than a handful of nuts to keep you going.

So, this International Nut Day, embrace the joy of nuts with friends and families!

Go Nuts for Better Breakfast Month

It’s Better Breakfast Month and there’s no better time to celebrate nuts than at breakfast! They provide sustaining energy to carry you over to lunch, and they’re a powerhouse of nutrients. Tree nuts are also intrinsic to so many breakfast dishes such as granola, fruit parfaits, muffins and pancakes, just to name a few.

Life is so much more interesting when we get playful and change things up a bit. Here are some ideas to help you add a little personality to your breakfast plate:

Avocado Toast

This iconic dish has become a staple on so many café menus, sometimes served all day long. Here’s our creation, be sure add your favorite nut for crunch and depth. 

Grain Bowl

There are few breakfasts more nutritious and filling than one with healthy grains, fruit and nuts. Choose fruit in season and change up your grains and nuts to bring more variety. Think strawberries and hazelnuts, mango and macadamias, peaches and almonds, raspberries and walnuts, nectarines and pecans, kiwis and pistachios – what’s your favorite pairing? For inspiration see our Breakfast Grain Bowl using mixed tree nuts.

Blueberry Breakfast Bread

Blueberry Breads are a delightful start to any day. Simply make them the night before and then pop in the oven for kids to eat on the run.

Smoothies

In many countries a smoothie isn’t complete without nuts – they add a creamy thickness and a lovely depth of flavor, and help make smoothies more satiating. Look for fruit and vegetables in season, add some water to make it more hydrating, and some nuts of your choice. Try our delicious Strawberry Date and Walnut Smoothie.

Nut Butter Toast

Nut butters, with honey, bananas, jelly or even eggs and bacon, add a unique flavor to your breakfast toast and they are easy to make!

It’s a Wrap

Breakfast Burritos and Wraps aren’t what you’d commonly associate with nuts, but why not add a sprinkling! Pine nuts or crumbled pecans can be added to your burrito mix, or try grated veggies with sliced mixed nuts to start your day off right!

Tomato, Cheese and Nut Omelet

If eggs are your favorite morning dish, whether an omelet or scrambled, trying adding a crunch of nuts. Mushroom omelets are lovely with hazelnuts or walnuts; tomato omelets with basil and pine nuts are delicious as are scrambled eggs dusted with toasted sliced almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.

So, cheers to our most important meal of the day! Make yours better with a good dose of tree nuts!

August is National Sandwich Month!

It’s officially National Sandwich Month! And who doesn’t love a great sandwich or have their own personal favorite? Whether it’s a multigrain veggie feast, a meaty Sloppy Joe, a New Orleans Po Boy or a classic turkey sourdough club, this is the month to celebrate the grand sandwich.

Though many will attribute the creation of the sandwich to the “Earl of Sandwich” in the 1700s, who feasted while gambling, the first recorded sandwich was by the famous rabbi, Hillel the Elder, who lived during the 1st century B.C.  He started the Passover custom of sandwiching a mixture of lamb, chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine between two Matzos to eat with bitter herbs. Nowadays that may seem like an exotic creation!

Today there are many ways to incorporate a healthy dose of tree nuts in your sandwich, whether mixed into your tuna salad, toasted and scattered over an open Danish sandwich, or mixed into a burger to enjoy as a patty melt. One of the easiest ways is to start with a nut butter which you can make at home (see our recipe here).

Here are some ideas for nut rich sandwiches:

Walnut, Apple and Celery – A great one for back to school, grate apple and toss with lemon juice, sliced celery, a spoon of mayonnaise or yogurt and toasted walnuts. Fill a sealed container with the salad for your child’s lunch box and add some bread, tortillas or crackers wrapped separately on the side for easy assembly.

Macadamia Butter, Banana and Honey – A fabulous and filling breakfast sandwich to get the kids or adults off to school and work and keep them full until lunch – they’ll never know it’s not really butter.

Pistachio, Grated Carrot, Arugula and Currants – This is a great sandwich to take to work on thick multigrain bread. Either make pistachio (or your favorite nut) butter, or dice roasted nuts and toss with grated carrot, arugula and currants.

Pecan Butter, Roast Beef, Peppers and Cabbage –  The depth of the pecan butter is delightful with roast beef and the crunch of fresh shredded cabbage.

Almond Butter, Avocado and Soft-Boiled Egg – The classic Avo toast is made so much better with the addition of almond butter!

Pine Nut Pesto, Tomato and Burrata – Take a leaf from the Italians healthy cap with a bruschetta at its most classic and finest. Spread sliced toasted ciabatta with pesto, and top with vine ripened tomatoes and burrata.

Hazelnut and Dill Cream Cheese with Smoked Salmon on Rye – The crunch of some toasted hazelnuts in a cream cheese spread is wonderful with smoked salmon or even canned sardines, served in that typical Danish style, open faced.

Brazil Nut Butter and Turkey Club – Brazil nuts are unsung heroes when it comes to adding a delicious unique nuttiness to sandwiches. Lovely with turkey or any other lunch meats.

Cashew, Shrimp and Cilantro Wrap – You can wrap this in lettuce leaves, rice paper or tortillas. Combine chopped cashews, chopped or small cooked prawns, cilantro, lime juice, shredded romaine and a few dashes of chili sauce.

So, whether it’s a picnic, food for your hike or road trip, or just sending the kids back to school, don’t forget to add some nuts for a nutritional and sustaining boost!

Bon Appétit!

Nuts in American History

Although pecans are the only nut indigenous to the America’s, all tree nuts have become a common ingredient throughout the evolution of American cuisine. Walnuts were first planted by Franciscan monks in the 1700s, and by the 1870s modern walnut production was thriving in Southern California, replicating the nuts native weather of the Mediterranean.

Like the walnuts, Spanish Franciscan padres brought almonds to their Californian missions, but they didn’t thrive in the moist, cool coastal climate. In fact, it wasn’t until crops were planted in the drier inland areas during the next century that the almond industry began to blossom, now supplying more than 80% of the world’s crop.

Hazelnuts have become an Oregonian staple, first planted by an enterprising farmer in the 1850s. Little did he know how perfect the location would be. The Willamette Valley’s ideal blend of temperate climate, rich volcanic soils, and waters flowing from the Cascade Mountains, all come together to create full-flavored hazelnuts sought throughout the world.

Pistachios, originally a Middle Eastern nut, were first planted in the US in 1930s, growing in regions from California to New Mexico. Today California is the largest producer of pistachios in the world.

The native Australian macadamia has become the famous nut of Hawaii, greeting travelers to the tropical state at airports and tourist shops. Introduced in the 1880s, Hawaii was the first region to commercially grow macadamias, fast becoming one of the world’s largest producers.

The American love affair with tree nuts has grown rapidly over the years, particularly now with the popularity of plant-based eating, snacking and an increased awareness of their health benefits. Indeed, there are many US-created dishes incorporating nuts that are now famous around the world. So, this July 4th, wave the American flag and try some of these American classics featuring nuts:

Waldorf Salad – Created at New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria in 1983 by the hotel Maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, this salad has evolved over the years, but the classic combination of apples, celery, walnuts and mayonnaise remains constant. Home and restaurant chefs alike in the US commonly grace salads with a dusting of nuts, whether candied, sliced or toasted. Here’s our recipe for Waldorf Salad with a twist.

Pecan Pie – No dessert is more American than the iconic Pecan Pie, with its luscious caramel filling bursting with America’s only native nut. Dating back to the early 1900s and credited as being the South’s most popular pie, pecan pie now appears all over the country with chefs creating their own twist. Other sweet nut treats made popular in the US include carrot or banana bread, oatmeal cookies and candied nuts.

Granola – The first granola (then called granula) dates back to the mid-1800s. Doctors at sanatoriums invented both granola, which is baked, and muesli, which is uncooked. The latter originated in Switzerland and granula (later copied and called granola) in upstate New York. Granula was the world’s first dry, manufactured breakfast cereal. It now takes on many shapes and sizes, nuts and seasonings and can be found in supermarkets around the globe.

Muffins – These small individual “cakes” date back to the late 1800s when baking powder was invented. Nuts were a common ingredient and now you’ll rarely see a café without their own designer muffin.

Nut Crusted Fish – Although it’s really a Mediterranean style of cooking fish, American chefs and home cooks have taken fish and nuts to a new level. Whether it’s a Hawaiian Style Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi, a Pacific Northwest Hazelnut crusted Alaskan Salmon, a Jewish Walnut crusted Halibut or Caribbean style mixed nut and cilantro crust, any nut can make a delicious crust for a wonderful flavor and texture boost.

Trail Mix – The first mention of trail mix was in 1910 in an American camping guide. Since then, trail mix has become the “go to” snack for hikers, school lunches, long drives and anyone wanting a healthy grab and go snack.

Bon Appétit and Happy 4th of July!

Beat the Heat with Cool Nutty Treats

Anyone who has ever stored their tree nuts in the refrigerator or freezer will appreciate how delicious they are cold! Not only does it preserve them longer, but frozen tree nuts also have a wonderful crispy, crunch and seem to cool you all over. Nuts are also intrinsic to so many summer foods and can add a wonderful dimension to your frozen or chilled drinks, desserts and cocktails. Here are a few ideas for serving tree nuts on warm summer days:

Gelato: The Italians often base their gelatos on nuts – think pistachio, hazelnut (nocciola), almond and walnut – the nuts add a creaminess and denser texture that adds to the cooling effects and delicious character of gelato! See below for a pistachio gelato recipe you can make in your own home.

Granita: Granita is another Italian frozen dessert that is basically a flavored ice with larger crystals than sorbet, and it’s very easy to make. Most often it starts with a simple syrup, then you can add fruit puree or juice, coffee, tea or other adult beverages before freezing in a shallow tray. After an hour, scrape mixture with a fork to break up into crystals and repeat every half hour until the desired consistency. On the final stir, fold through chopped nuts. You can go fancy and make one with Champagne and Flaked Almonds; Asian style with mango, lime, coconut and macadamias; or this classic Apple Walnut Granita.

Home Designer Ice Cream: Impress your family or guests by ‘upgrading’ a store-bought ice cream with nuts and other ingredients. That way you can buy any flavor, choose an alternative milk base if there are allergies, and get creative to make it your own. Simply soften the ice cream a little in a bowl (don’t soften to a liquid as it won’t refreeze as nicely). Stir through nuts, spices, dried or fresh fruit, or whatever your heart desires and refreeze back in the container or in ice cube trays for small bits. Get the new-wave spirit and experiment with combinations such as almonds, salt and dark chocolate; hazelnuts, chili flakes and honey swirled through; walnuts and pecans with cardamom and currants; pine nuts with fresh basil; macadamia nuts, pear puree and white pepper; Brazil nuts with rum-soaked raisins. Permission to go crazy!

Nutty Pops: You can put your ice cream creation in popsicle makers, but better still, freeze whole bananas with a popsicle stick (or chopstick for fun), dip in white, dark or milk chocolate and roll in your favorite chopped nuts. Here’s a recipe for Chocolate and Pecan Dipped Banana Pops to get you started.

Smoothies: Smoothies made just with fruit and yogurt are wonderful, but often leave you feeling hungry shortly thereafter. Adding some frozen tree nuts will thicken it up while adding valuable protein, nutrients and healthy oils. It will also keep you satiated longer. Here’s a recipe for a Raspberry Almond Smoothie

Pistachio Gelato

This is based on a traditional Italian gelato recipe, using a custard base. You could substitute any nut for the recipe.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup pistachios, finely ground
  • Extra pistachios, roughly chopped, to taste

To make the base, heat milk over medium heat until small bubbles appear around outside – don’t allow to boil. Beat the egg yolks and sugar with a whisk in a separate bowl until thick and creamy. Gradually add some of the hot milk, a few spoons at a time, while whisking the mixture, then add the remainder of the milk in a thin stream, constantly whisking.

Transfer the mixture to a double boiler and cook, stirring until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour into a glass or ceramic container, cover closely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.  You can do this the day or even two before.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and churn for 1-2 minutes before adding ground pistachios and finishing according to instructions for your ice cream maker. Fold through as many pistachio chunks as you like.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze custard and pistachios in ice cube trays. When frozen transfer to a blender, puree and refreeze – do this a few times to get the ice crystals very small, then freeze in a plastic tub with a lid.

Have fun experimenting with nutty treats this summer and Bon Appetit!

Nuts About Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is coming up and whether it’s your mom, wife, grandmother, aunt, sister, daughter or stepmom, treating them to a special meal, baking them a cake or surprising them with a luxurious breakfast in bed will make them feel treasured!

There are so many ways that nuts can make meals and snacks just a bit more special, and nutritious. Here are just a few ideas:

Let’s start with breakfast – Pancakes aren’t complete without a scattering of walnuts or pecans; and almonds and pistachios make muesli and granola extra special. Avocado Toast has become one of those breakfast dishes that is a true healthy indulgence, and we have a wonderful recipe for Avocado Toast with Spicy Nuts that she’ll love for sure!

Morning tea – Take time out and treat Mom to a pot of her favorite tea or coffee and a sweet treat. Scones are a wonderful accompaniment to tea, studded with your favorite tree nuts and dried fruit, and finished with a dollop of whipped cream and jam. Or try our Raspberry Hazelnut Ricotta Cake for an extra special delicacy! 

The ultimate picnic – If you’re planning on a grand dinner to treat your special lady, perhaps a picnic for lunch is in order followed by a long hike or a swim. Some great picnic ideas are pasta or rice salads with roasted nuts to give staying power throughout your activity. Or, perhaps a little more indulgent spinach and pine nut quiche would surprise and delight her. And don’t forget to pack a bag of tree nuts and dried fruit to take on the road to keep hunger at bay.

Cocktails – Don’t dive straight into dinner. Bring her a glass of sparkling wine or a cocktail, and a cheese platter with nuts, or a bowl of seasoned nuts, while you cook her meal – you can find some exciting ideas here.

The Feast – Since you’ll want to spend time with your mom, you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. Think of nuts as a way to make an ordinary meal extraordinary.

  • Spread a rack of lamb (or a pork tenderloin) with goat cheese and coat with crushed nuts such as hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil or pine nuts and roast for 20-25 minutes or until cooked as desired, then serve on a bed of fresh minted peas and silky mashed potatoes.
  • Butterfly a chicken breast and spread with a home-made pesto using nuts and herbs of your choice, then roast over baby potatoes. Or even simpler and just as satisfying, is a stir fry with soy, honey and nuts such as almonds, cashews and macadamias, snap peas and red pepper.
  • Roast or grill a fillet of fish, such as salmon or halibut, and serve topped with diced tree nuts browned in a butter, lemon and caper sauce.

Dessert – There’s a myriad of desserts that are made with a delicious array of nuts. Just click on recipes on our website and select desserts. Or if you’re in the mood for sweet and simple, just purchase some sorbet or gelato, and stir in some tree nuts and raspberry puree – refreeze in a tray and serve slices, scattered with toasted sliced almonds and a drizzle of melted chocolate and fresh fruit.

Bon Appetit and Happy Mother’s Day!

Go Nuts Celebrating National Nutrition Month!

March is National Nutrition Month and there are few better foods to celebrate with than nuts! Adding a handful of tree nuts to your day can bring you a nutritional boost. Rich in unsaturated fats, all nuts also contain protein, fiber and important vitamins and minerals. In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced one of the first qualified health claims: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” 

In recent years, more research has shown the potential benefits of tree nuts on other conditions such as diabetes and cancer, as well as satiety and maintenance of a healthy body weight. While all tree nuts provide important nutrients, they do each have their own special attributes.

Almonds and Vitamin E – Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, that enhances our immune system and is involved with heart health. Almonds are likely the most widely available nut in many forms – raw, roasted, sliced, slivered, milk, or as meal which is a great flour substitute in cakes and wonderful Macaroons.

Brazil Nuts and Selenium – Just one Brazil nut gives you all of the selenium you need per day. Selenium has antioxidant properties that help to break down peroxides, which can damage tissues and DNA, leading to inflammation and other health problems. Brazil nuts are fabulous in cakes and cookies, diced and scattered over salads or through pasta, like this Wild Mushroom Pasta Dish.

Cashews and Magnesium – Cashews are rich in the mineral magnesium, which has many roles in the body such as building proteins and strong bones, and regulating blood sugar, blood pressure and muscle and nerve functions. Take a feather out of the Asian cook’s cap and toss luscious and slightly sweet cashews in your next stir fry. Top our tasty Cashew and Noodle Sang Choy Bow with a scattering of roasted cashews, or just munch a few on your next hike.

Hazelnuts and Vitamin E – Like almonds, hazelnuts are a rich source of Vitamin E as well as fiber, protein and healthy fats. The Mediterranean diet incorporates hazelnuts in many ways, from a rich and flavorful oil, to use as a base for desserts and pastries. Try a dressing with hazelnut oil and lemon, over a Tricolor Salad, with chopped hazelnuts and goat cheese and you’ll be transported to Italy. Hazelnut pesto is wonderful in pasta and for drizzling over chicken and fish.

Macadamias and Manganese – This native Australian nut was once used by the Aboriginal community to provide lasting sustenance for long walkabouts from the coast inland, and can do the same for us on long periods of activity. They are a great source of manganese, which is involved in skeletal health among other benefits. In this shortbread recipe, ground macadamias replace all of the butter, and you’d never know it!

Pecans and Flavonoids – Pecans are rich in flavonoids, plant chemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are associated with a reduced risk of a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. This dark and deliciously flavored nut, often seasoned with spices or honey, adds a wonderful dimension to salads, and can provide a creative twist to your favorite Mac and Cheese.

Pine Nuts and Copper – Like oysters, these little buttery gems are a great source of copper, a mineral the body uses to form red blood cells, bone, connective tissue and some important enzymes. Known mostly in the US as a base for pesto or scattered on salads, the Europeans use pine nuts extensively as an ingredient in breads, candies, cookies, cakes, sauces, fish, vegetable dishes and meat dishes such as these Lamb and Pine Nut Pastries

Pistachios and Plant Sterols – On top of being a good source of healthy fats and potassium, pistachios are known for their contribution of plant sterols to the diet. Plant sterols have been linked to lowering cholesterol, particularly LDL (the bad guy). Pistachio’s rich green flavor makes them a delightful addition to cookies, sauces, smoothies or as a lovely contrast on this potato soup.

Walnuts and Omega 3’s – Walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fats and are one of a few significant plant sources of heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. This versatile tree nut can cross all borders when it comes to meals and cultures. Walnuts are great for breakfast with yogurt and granola, in a rich moist banana or zucchini bread, over grain salads, or in this classic creamy sauce for pasta.

Bottom line? All tree nuts fit into a healthy diet. Celebrate National Nutrition Month by simply choosing your favorites and enjoying a nutritious mixture—Bon Appetit!

Go Nuts for a Healthy Weight!

This week is National Healthy Weight Week. Did you know that eating tree nuts may help you lose and maintain your body weight? In a recent study conducted at UCLA, overweight and obese men and women were given 1.5 ounces of tree nuts versus a pretzel snack. Both groups lost weight, but those who consumed tree nuts reported greater satiety and weight maintenance after six months. Tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber, all of which make them so satiating.

Recent research has shown that more than 40 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. During the past two years many Americans have gained weight while sheltering in place, partly due to less exercise and more snacking. Most people get about 25% of their calories each day from snacks and a large proportion come from desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and salty snacks. Replacing just one of those snacks with 1.5 ounces of tree nuts may result in a positive impact on weight and overall health.

Here are some ways to incorporate nuts into your day:

Start the day out right – Enjoying nuts with breakfast will keep you satiated longer, warding off those mid-morning munchies. Spread home-made nut butter on your toast, scatter raw nuts on oatmeal, or add to your smoothie for a lovely smooth thick texture and a drink that will keep you going until lunch time.

Give your salad some crunch – A spoonful or two of roasted chopped nuts over your salad takes it to a new level. Even simple mixed greens tossed with olive oil, lemon and nuts will fill a hungry void.

Make nut cookies – You can use nut butters to replace butter in cookies, and nut meal to replace some or all of the flour – think almond or hazelnut shortbread, pistachio biscotti or pecan walnut brownies.

Take a hike – We all know that what we eat only counts as part of maintaining a healthy weight. Next time you head out on a hike or bike ride, take a bag with 1½ ounces (or 1/3 cup) of tree nuts.

Long drive ahead? – Pack a bag of nuts and dried fruit to take on your next long commute or Sunday drive.  Thankfully, most gas stations have nuts in case you forget!

Smaller portions – Another lesson from many European countries is serving smaller portions and making the basis of your meals the plant portion – vegetables, salads, and whole grains. And you won’t grow hungry if you add a handful of nuts.

A meal of soup – When you add nuts, they not only thicken the soup and add a lovely depth but fill you up more too. Whether it’s squash, zucchini, tomato or mushroom, add an ounce of nuts to the soup before you blend it.

Here’s a recipe for a delicious Mediterranean soup using tree nuts:

Mediterranean Carrot Soup with Raisin Nut Agrodolce

Serves 4

In this recipe, the nuts add a silky thickness, so you don’t need to add anything else for a luscious creamy texture. 

  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon all spice
  • ½ ground coriander
  • ½ cup dense nuts such as almond, hazelnut, macadamia, Brazil or a mixture
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt, to serve

Raisin, Nut and Cumin Agrodolce

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 4 tablespoons nuts – pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts work great with these flavors

Method

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add fennel seeds and toast for 1 minute.  Add olive oil, garlic and spices and cook 1 minute, until aromatic.  Add nuts and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring, until nuts are aromatic but not browned.  Add carrot and stock and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until carrots are soft but haven’t lost their color.  Cool slightly, then place carrots in blender with half the liquid. Puree, adding remainder of liquid as you puree until desired consistency.  If it’s still too thick, add some more stock, wine, or for a creamy version, milk. 
  3. Season to taste and return to heat.
  4. To make Agrodolce: toast cumin seeds in a dry pan on medium heat until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add honey, stir to just melt, then stir in lemon, golden raisins and nuts. Remove from heat.

Spoon soup into bowls, top with a swirl of yogurt followed by Agrodolce.