- Posted February 18, 2013 by
Let's go NUTS!
Ever wonder where the saying “Are you nuts?!” originated? Or why is that word often connected to being a fool or losing one’s mind? Well, if you love the flavor, texture and nutritive value of these protein rich morsels brimming with nature’s goodness, then you’ll agree that it’s easy to fall in love with (or get crazy over) their great taste. Perhaps their hardness could also be linked to the saying as being nutty is also related sometimes to stubbornness.
In culinary terminology, the definition is not as restrictive as in the botanical definition which classify that nuts come from a specific part of a plant that becomes very hard at their mature state. In cooking, pretty much any seed or large oily kernel enclosed in a shell may be considered a nut.
Due to their generally high unsaturated (good) fat and protein content, these are highly regarded as an excellent energy source. Health buffs snack on handfuls of them or as part of a trail mix with dried fruit rather than opening a bag of chips. The good fat they contain has been linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular problems. Their generally low-glycemic quality also makes it a good food for diabetics.
Though considered as a healthy food group, nuts should still be consumed in moderation as these still are high in calories and excessive consumption can result in weight gain and elevated uric acid levels which can result in gout. Combine their consumption with a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, carbohydrate and protein. Care should be taken as well if you have allergies towards them and the wide variety of foods they are found in. Read food packaging which indicates if the items are made in a facility that processes nuts.
Vegetarians and vegans, particularly raw foodists, recommend that certain raw nuts (usually those with a brown skin or peel) be soaked, drained and dehydrated prior to consumption to remove mildly toxic enzyme inhibitors found in the peel. Roasting as well as other forms of heating should be avoided to maximize the nutrients.
Almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashew, macadamia and pistachios are only a few among the most popular nuts consumed in many parts of the world. These and others can be incorporated into countless dishes like soups, salads, main courses, desserts and drinks. Milk can even be made from almonds and cashew and replace animal sources of this high-protein beverage.