Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tis the Nutty Season

Well, yes, that kind, too.

For now I was referring to cooking with nuts, even if it means never allowing that sometimes sane aunt, cousin, or nephew into your kitchen. That’s where I keep the knives.

I keep all manner of nuts at the ready: almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts. I rarely use cashews for cooking, finding them sinful (salted, especially) by themselves, but difficult to find a mate for on

Like the healthy improbables, red wine and dark chocolate, much as been written lately about the health benefits of nuts, in moderation, of course. Nuts contain monounsaturated fats, which help lower low-density LDL (bad) cholesterol and may raise high-density HDL (good) cholesterol. Major studies have found that eating nuts significantly reduces the risk of coronary disease. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other goodies such as omega-3 in walnuts, and calcium and vitamin E in almonds. They are good sources of protein and fiber.

Just remember—key word—moderation. If using for cooking, never buy them smothered with salt.

Here are some ways I will be using nuts for the next week:

—Almond Shortbreads

—Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar & Spice Pecans, Pecans, Pecans

—Caramelized Walnuts

—Homemade Pesto with either Pine Nuts or Walnuts

—Pecan-crusted Red Snapper

—Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi

—Roasted Haricot Verts with Toasted Hazelnuts

—Jack Daniels Chocolate Pecan Pie

It is that other “bad” stuff that does the damage. Even in moderation, weight gain over the holidays is rarely moderate. I just throw in the towel—after doing the dishes, of course.

A domestic engineer guy’s duties double over the holidays.

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