In addition to being a nut job, I am a nut lover. I really haven’t tasted a nut I didn’t like – even the peanut, which is technically a legume. I feel dreadfully sorry for those who have the dangerous nut allergy. My fiance has an allergy to chocolate, which I’m actually jealous of, but that’s for another post . . .
Some history about our hard-shelled friends
There is evidence that nuts have been around feeding us and our ancient ancestors since prehistoric times. The oldest evidence are some walnut remains which were found in Iraq and are thought to be over 50,000 years old!
The almond dates back to 3100-1100 BC in the region around Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. By the way, did you know that almonds are related to peaches?
Pine nuts have been providing powerful nutrition to those living in the ‘Great Basin’ region of the US for many thousands of years. According to PineNut.com,
“Understand that the pine nut was to the people of the Great Basin what the buffalo was to the plains people.”
Another popular nut (other than me with some of my friends) is the pistachio. These also have been getting cracked open and savored for thousands of years, dating back to 7000 years or so to the Middle East. Long used along with almonds by travelers because of the compact, but potent nutritional value, this nut inspired some interesting legends, including the one that says the Queen of Sheba declared it an exclusively ‘royal’ food forbidding commoners to grow and eat it.
1. Nutritional Power Food– High in protein, fiber, antioxidants and monosaturated fat (good fat) – good for the heart, lowering blood pressure AND reducing risk for type 2 diabetes.
2. Weight Control – According to an article found in Johns Hopkins Health Alert, people who eat nuts are more likely to weigh less than those that don’t. (just remember moderation is key here)
3. Easy, Awesome Snack Food – I like to roast my own favorites and mix them up with dried fruits to make a custom trail mix.
4. Vegan and Raw Foodie Approved – If you are eating vegan or raw for reasons of health, ethics or to reduce your carbon stamp on the earth, nuts are essential. (but, I really don’t know about ‘locally’ grown in some regions – I think those of us in the north east would suffer a bit on this one) See my cashew yogurt recipe.
5. Excellent Party Food– Tis the season, so get creative or keep it simple! (Just make sure to let your guests know in case someone has an allergy)
Some nutty links:
Detailed Nutritional Chart for Various Nuts
More Details on Various Nuts + Recipes
My Favorite Nut Loaf Recipe (based on Crank’s cookbook)