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


  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.

Holiday Pairings with Tree Nuts, Cheese and Bubbles

The holidays are a time of celebration, gathering with friends and family, and sharing food together. Nuts, cheese and bubbles make perfect partners to celebrate the season. The variety of cheeses, nuts and sparkling wines available, provide a veritable playground to create your own designer smorgasbord.

Sparkling wines from around the world just seem to “work” with the cheeses from the same region or country. And, selecting nuts to add depth of flavor and contrast in texture gives you the ability to make a truly memorable platter for your guests. Here are some cheese, nut and sparkling wine partnerships to inspire your next holiday party:

Manchego, Almonds and Cava – Spain’s rich, round and slightly sharp flavored Manchego, is wonderful with Cava and almonds. Cava is Spain’s signature sparkler and very affordable – and if you go for the Reserva, buy a Manchego with more age to stand up to the wine’s complexity. Traditionally in Spain, you would be served Marcona almonds, but roasted almonds, and Brazil nuts make a wonderful pairing too.

Burrata, Pistachios, Roasted Tomato Fig Compote and Prosecco – Whether you want to go all out and get an Italian Franciacorta (Italy’s answer to true Champagne) or a simple fresh and lively Prosecco, a rustic bruschetta topped with fresh burrata or mozzarella, a piquant tomato fig compote and the crunch and sweet earthiness of pistachios is pure magic. Fresh figs are ideal, but if you can’t find any, dried mission figs add a lovely depth. Pine nuts are great in this dish too!

Washed Rind Cheese, Hazelnuts and Champagne – If you want the true Champagne experience, try a cheese made in the region such as Langres or Epoisse, a drizzle of honey and warm hazelnuts. Brie and Camembert are also lovely with Champagne, as are macadamia nuts, the yeasty dry sparkles complimenting the rich nuts. A side of quince paste would be great instead of honey too.

Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Sparkling Rose – Opt for a softer, milder blue such as Cambozola, which is wonderful with walnuts. Their earthy notes blend well with the rich cheese. Cambozola is from Germany, so a great regional pairing would be an Alsatian Brut Rose, dry and complex, the fine bubble playing with the rich textures. Some sliced pears would be lovely too.

Cheddar, Pecans and Sparkling Pinot Noir – Come home to America with local hard cheese such as cheddar, pecans (roasted or spiced), and a sparkling wine made with Pinot Noir – rich, dry, elegant, and full bodied to stand up to the salty, sweet mix. A drizzle of truffle honey would add to the pairing as well.

Happy Holidays from the Nutty Chef!

Fall for Nuts

Fall brings with it not only the natural beauty of changing leaves, but a wonderful new bounty of produce, a welcome chill in the air, and celebrations. We dress up for Halloween, plan our Thanksgiving feasts and other get-togethers, and particularly this year, are thankful that getting together with family and friends is much easier.

This is also the perfect time of year to add tree nuts to the menu. Their diverse flavors and textures make every dish a bit more interesting:

Pumpkins aren’t just for carving, they are delicious too, and both acorn and Kabocha make wonderful soups and curries which can be thickened and topped with your favorite mix of nuts. Or make your pumpkin pie with a pecan crust – the flavor of the pecans brings the pumpkin to life and add a depth you won’t get in store bought pastry (see recipe below).

Pears and apples in your fall salads work well with the addition of nuts, such as roasted walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. In the mood for a nice warm strudel? Crush nuts to scatter on your layers of filo dough before wrapping around the fruit, to add some crunch.

Jazz up tree nuts with sweet and savory flavors and serve with cocktails – toss in oil and seasonings before roasting, until just golden and aromatic. Try chili, truffle salt or honey, or echo the notes in your cocktail. Is it Gin and Tonic? Toss nuts in ground juniper berries, cinnamon, coriander or anise. Or is it a Bloody Mary you crave? Try celery salt, pimento or Tabasco.

Nuts can play a starring role in accompaniments for your feasts – buttered carrots with honey and toasted almonds is pure heaven; and Brussel sprouts tossed with oil, basil and hazelnuts or walnuts are delicious. Mushroom ravioli with pine nuts and pistachios in the filling and tossed on top is pure Mediterranean magic.

Follow the festive theme with party food such as Turkey meatballs studded with nuts of any kind, then rolled in ground nuts before sautéing and served with pesto. Roast discs of sweet potato, then top with yogurt and a roasted pecan or walnut for an unexpected finger treat. And bite-sized bruschetta topped with diced late season tomatoes, herbs and toasted nuts is a sure crowd pleaser.

Experiment and have fun! Cheers to fall!

School is Back

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.

Bon Appetit!

Smoothies Love Nuts!

Meals in a glass have become more popular in recent years with busy schedules and the desire for healthy portable options. However, they can sometimes leave us hungry an hour after we’ve consumed them. Many people opt for protein powders and other processed ingredients to thicken up smoothies and provide more satiety; but have you ever tried adding tree nuts (almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) to your smoothie?

Nuts are nature’s perfect package, providing protein, valuable fats, vitamins and minerals. And, they add a delicious flavor and texture, as well as an appealing crunch if you sprinkle them over the top as well. Think of the classic White Gazpacho with cucumber, grapes and almonds – silky, nutritious and sustaining.

Here are a few tasty combinations to try:

Banana Yogurt – Freeze bananas (just loose in freezer), add milk or milk substitute, yogurt or kefir, ice and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with some chopped walnuts, or, for a burst of color and variety, pistachios.

Strawberry and Rhubarb – Make the most of the abundance of fresh seasonal strawberries and rhubarb with a delicious blend of the fruit with some fresh squeezed juice to offset the sharpness of the rhubarb. Add a few spoonfuls of tree nuts such as macadamias, cashews or hazelnuts for some creamy thickness.

Citrus Smoothies – You can find so many wonderful citrus fruits in most markets these days, such as Cara Cara and Blood Oranges, Ruby Grapefruit and Heirloom oranges. To maximize the valuable fiber and bioflavonoids in the pith, remove most of the skin, dice and blend with water, ice and some other fruit of choice – great with ripe peaches, apricots or papaya. Try diced or sliced almonds on top, or even pine nuts for a Middle Eastern twist.

Green Meanies – The trend these days is to jam as much kale, cucumber, celery, fresh herbs and other greens into a blender with apple juice or coconut water for a power packed nutrient bullet. The greens are lovely with the toasty richness of added pecans or almonds. 

Red Veggie Antioxidant Boost – Beets, radish, red chard, and other red vegetables make a great smoothie full of antioxidants. Give it an added boost with a mixture of tree nuts.

So, have fun and make your own designer smoothie with your favorite fruits, vegetables and nuts!

Bon Appétit!

Tips for Pairing Tree Nuts with Your Favorite Summer Drinks

Summer is fast approaching, and the need to stay well hydrated is never so important. Warmer weather also brings new ideas for beverages – white wines, summer cocktails, iced lattes and summer fruit juices. And, what we snack on with our beverages of choice is just as important, especially as we head outdoors and look more to “transportable” food.

There is nothing better than nuts when it comes to snacks to have with drinks – they are sustaining, healthy, delicious and very transportable. And you can spice them up or down to your heart’s content.

Here are some ideas to pair nuts with your favorite summer drinks.


Rosè fills glasses as warmer weather approaches. Interestingly, both Rosè and hazelnuts grow in abundance in the South of France and happen to pair beautifully together. Try roasted hazelnuts mixed with dried cranberries.

Experts agree, sparkling wine and almonds are made for each other. The density of the almond and toasty notes balance the bubbly effervescence and wine’s own character. Macadamia’s buttery texture and soft rich flavor are also a wonderful pairing.

Crisp white wines are often the go-to in warmer weather – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Albarino – just to name a few. Picture a cheese plate with pistachios and roasted cashews. The rich sweetness of the nuts is a perfect offset for the wine’s fresh finish.

Pinot Noir is often the red of choice in summer and pecans are the perfect match. Perhaps chop with raisins and press into a log or balls for a real treat!


Relaxing with a cocktail seems synonymous with warm weather, and a side of nuts is always welcome. 

Think of cooling cucumber lemonade with mint and a dash of vodka, or an apple martini – both incredibly lovely with a side of walnuts (think Waldorf Salad), especially if they are roasted and have a light dusting of dried herbs such as dill, cumin and salt. And, a Bloody Mary with spicy pecans is a special occasion in itself. Simply toss pecans with oil to coat, dust with chili powder and roast until aromatic.

Are you a Gin and Tonic fan? Why not replicate some of the botanicals as a dusting for almonds, hazelnuts or macadamias – ground juniper (go light), coriander, cardamom, lime and orange zest.

Have you heard of orgeat syrup? This is a non-alcoholic, almond-based syrup that you can make yourself using almonds (you can substitute any nut), sugar, brandy and orange water. It’s what makes a Mai Tai a Mai Tai.  But imagine a Tequila, lime juice, orange bitters and pistachio orgeat? Or a Cognac and Rye Whisky with an Italian herbal liqueur, bitters and walnut orgeat? Does it bring out the mixologist in you?

Chilled Espresso and Tea Drinks

Except for the true coffee purists, iced espresso, coffee and chocolate drinks are wonderful as we head to summer, and iced tea is one of the most refreshing drinks there is!

A Latte, Affogato and Iced Chocolate are delightful when you add some shaved roasted Brazil nuts. The notes of the nuts bring out the sweetness and chocolate undertones of the coffee. You could make a dense Brazil “cake” by dicing the nuts with dates and coconut, pressing into a lined tin, and then when chilled and firm, slicing into bars.

Plain iced tea begs a lighter nut such as raw almonds; Asian style teas love cashew shortbread; and Earl Grey tea with walnut bread is divine! 

Fruit and Vegetable Juices

You don’t have to sign on to the “pressed” craze to simply enjoy some of spring and summer’s produce in a refreshing drink. Even just a squeeze of lemon or lime in sparkling water, with a dash of bitters, makes hydrating a joy. 

And, nuts will give you a healthy boost of nutrients and sustenance between meals without weighing you down. So, no matter what your fruit or vegetable juice preference, a bowl of mixed nuts will be a wonderful complement – whether on the trail, a picnic, your deck relaxing or sitting and working.

Nutty Ways to Enjoy Seasonal Produce this Spring

As we shed off our winter clothes and enjoy the warm spring sunshine, the ground also starts to awaken with a bounty of healthy fruits and vegetables. And, there’s no better way to make a complete plant-based meal with this abundance of spring crops, than to incorporate your favorite nuts. Tree nuts, which provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, can make vegetable meals more complete and satisfying.

Here are some ideas to add nuts into your spring menu:

  • The Italians love to use nuts in their cooking. Pistachios are often an intrinsic part of many savory dishes, such as a puree spread on pizza, to be topped with cherry tomatoes and basil. In spring, they often shave artichoke finely (just the white part) and toss with lemon and olive oil, and then arrange over a bed of salad leaves before scattering with toasted pistachios. 
  • In warmer, more tropical climates, macadamias are embraced in many ways. Picture a bed of caramelized grilled pineapple, topped with the season’s first Alaskan halibut. Give it a buttery crunch with a diced macadamia nut crust, and roast until the fish just starts to flake, about 10 minutes at 375°F, depending on thickness.
  • Hazelnuts make a delicious base for a spring mélange. Process the nuts until coarsely ground with olive oil and parmesan. Smear this on a plate and arrange spring vegetables over the top, such as shaved radish, fava beans and English peas. Decorate with basil or watercress and dollops of fresh ricotta. It looks like a fine dining restaurant meal but is so easy.
  • If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase some fresh nettle, it makes a wonderful soup topped with a dollop of yogurt and toasted pine nuts. Or, puree with pine nuts to toss through pasta with a sprinkling of aged ricotta.
  • Baby carrots are wonderful blanched then tossed with honey, lemon and toasted almonds and served as a side dish, or over quinoa, farro or rice.  Or, make a real visual treat, and chop finely to toss with warm wild rice!
  • Dandelion greens are another Mediterranean favorite and wonderful for your health, like kale and other bitter greens coming out in spring. Sauté until just wilted in a small amount of olive oil, toss with some balsamic or soy, and toasted walnuts. Or cool and wrap in filo pastry for a twist on the Greek spinach pie, Spanakopita.
  • You can put a Spring twist on pecan pie by making it a rhubarb pecan pie – and even using pecans to make the pie crust. Cook the rhubarb in water with a little sugar and lemon until soft and thick; add pecans, cool, and then put in a pie crust to bake – top with dollops of crème fraiche. Or make a rhubarb chutney with vinegar and sugar, adding roasted pecans at the end. This is wonderful spooned over fish, poultry or your favorite burger.
  • Apricots, strawberries and other berries are at their best in spring and bring life to salads, breakfast bowls and parfaits, especially when topped with nuts like cashews. Cashews are also the perfect nut for a spring stir fry, with snow and snap peas, and prawns. Glaze with a soy miso broth and serve over a bed of rice noodles for a cool spring night.
  • Asparagus is surprisingly delicious with some diced and roasted Brazil nuts. Simply blanch, drizzle with avocado oil, and add the nuts with some fresh black pepper.

The options are endless when it comes to nuts and spring produce. Have fun creating your own spring showcase!

Add a Touch of Tree Nuts to Your Easter Celebration

Everyone has their “go to” Easter dishes! They may be from our cultural background, family traditions or just foods that we relate to Easter, like fish, lamb, festive breads and chocolate. Here are some of those dishes and tips on how you can add your own favorite nut “touch” to make it just a bit more special, flavorful… and healthy!

Lamb dishes: Likely the only time of the year that many Americans embrace lamb is Easter. In many cultures, lamb and nuts go hand in hand, such as Middle Eastern cultures where lamb and pine nuts are inseparable, like these Kibbe meatballs from our chef’s collection, or these Lamb and Pine Nut Pastries. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Roast lamb is wonderful stuffed with a nut, herb, olive oil and lemon paste; rack of lamb welcomes a crust of nuts and rosemary, and home-made lamb burgers are great if you feel like an outdoors Easter to enjoy the spring weather.

Italian Easter Torte: A beautiful rustic pie with spinach or chard, ricotta and eggs rolled up in pastry. Pastry is so easy to make and much more enjoyable than store bought. By adding nut meal to the flour, not only will it have more depth and protein, but you can use less butter, as the nuts provide their own healthy oils. And, if you want to go totally dairy free, use home-made nut cheese. Soak nuts overnight in water, puree, strain and voila, you have both nut milk to use for your coffee, and a nut meal that you can press and refrigerate to add to any recipe that calls for cheese.

Fish: As we head up to Easter, many are avoiding meat and only eat fish. Nuts and fish work so well together: top grilled salmon with roasted almonds; crust any fish with finely chopped nuts, lemon zest and herbs before roasting; toss walnuts or pistachios in pasta with scallops; add cashews to prawn stir fry or lettuce cups; or give a rich nut and fresh herb stuffing to roasted whole fish.

Side dishes: One of the easiest and most festive ways to use nuts in cooking is to add them to side dishes. Green beans are lovely with toasted almonds and honey; faro or quinoa are delicious with the addition of chopped nuts such as pistachio and hazelnuts; or add nuts like macadamias and cashews to a puree such as potato, yam or butternut, to add thickness, a little crunch and wonderful flavor.

Greek Easter Bread and Hot Cross Buns: There are lots of recipes on the internet for making your own Easter Bread and Hot Cross Buns, and it’s always so much more fulfilling when you can make them from scratch. Add any nuts to the mix or even make a glaze with honey and sliced or chopped nuts to spoon over the top as they come out of the oven. Now that’s decadence in a nutshell!

Nut Easter Eggs: For a healthier take on Easter eggs, here’s a fun recipe to try below!

Happy Easter!

Chocolate Marcona Almonds


  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Water 
  • 2 cups Marcona Almonds (any nut will work here)
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 cup Bittersweet Chocolate (melted)
  • 1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar


  1. Add the sugar and water to a large saucepan. Stir until the mixture resembles a “slush” consistency.
  2. Bring the sugar to a boil over high heat until the sugar turns a light amber color. Add the almonds and salt. Stir the almonds consistently until the sugar and nuts are caramelized to a dark amber color.
  3. Carefully transfer the almonds to a greased cookie sheet and cool to room temperature.
  4. Break up the almonds and add them to a large bowl with the melted chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, mix the almonds until the chocolate is thoroughly covering the almonds.
  5. Mix in the powdered sugar until all the almonds are covered with sugar (add more if necessary).
  6. Transfer nuts to a cookie sheet to set for 20 minutes. Store in a cool dry container. 

Romantic Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is nearing, and, for many of us, going out is not an option. So how can we make a meal at home a little more special for our loved one? Think nuts! Tree nuts are versatile and full of flavor and texture.

Here are some ideas for making your meal a little more romantic and special using nuts.

  • Oysters – Rather than just serve oysters in-shell, since it’s still cold outside, try a smooth oyster chowder. Decorate with a sprinkle of toasted nuts such as pistachios or walnuts and place an oyster on top! Or, if you’re a raw oyster purist, offer a mignonette (a sauce made typically with vinegar, pepper, and herbs) with raspberries and finely diced nuts to add a sweet and textural “wow.”
  • Cheese plate – Toasted nuts are a wonderful addition to your cheese plate, but you can personalize it more by stuffing some oysters with nuts. Almonds are commonly used, but you could also snuggle in some macadamias or hazelnuts for a lovely nibble with your glass of bubbly.
  • Pasta – There’s probably no more romantic a dish than a lovely pasta with some braised steak or even duck. Take a feather from the Italians’ cap and make a sauce using nuts (they commonly use walnuts, but you could use any nut) to make a creamy sauce. Simply soak some bread in milk, then squeeze out and puree with nuts, garlic or truffle oil, some fresh herbs such as basil or marjoram, and a little parmesan cheese.
  • Asparagus – Topping your perfectly blanched asparagus with a sprinkle of goat cheese and chopped toasted nuts such as hazelnuts, cashews or pine nuts is delicious, especially paired with a special glass of wine.
  • Stir fry – If you’re inspired to go Asian this Valentine’s Day, a stir fry, no matter what you use – chicken, beef, prawns or vegetarian – will be elevated with a scattering of toasted nuts such as macadamias, cashews or almonds.
  • The grand finale – Nuts and dessert possibilities are endless:
    • A lush parfait with crème fraiche, berries and nuts is light and luscious.
    • Pecans are wonderful in pie, but they also make a flavorful topping for a flourless chocolate cake or pudding.
    • The simplicity of sliced fruit and nuts is a perfect ending to a meal and allows you to linger with a glass of port, and a side of romance.

Happy Valentine’s Day!