Meatless Monday – Nutty kitchen staples

Into a meatless diet, a little or a lot of nuts may fall. For their versatility (sweet and savoury use), nutritional value (protein, essential fats, fibre, minerals and some vitamins) and taste, here are my top 5 picks for must-have nuts in your pantry.

  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • cashews
  • Brazil nuts
  • pecans

To enhance bioavailability of nutrients, soak nuts for a minimum of a few hours then roast in a low temperature oven (200°F) for at least one hour. Grind until nut butter forms and use as sandwich spread or base for salad dressing, dips, pesto. Cashews can be ground and mixed with water to make cashew cream, a tasty vegan substitute for dairy cream. Nuts can be used in granola, energy bars, muffins and on top of oatmeal and salad. Nuts are also nice finely chopped and used as nut ‘meat’ for stuffed pasta shells or tacos. You can also mix the chopped nuts with cooked vegetables, legumes and grains to make veggie burgers or ‘neat’ balls. And if you’re adventurous and ambitious you can make a variety of nut cheeses.

Nuts are high in fat and therefore calories. Eat as an accompaniment to the main dish or as part of a snack. If you can find and afford it, organic raw nuts are the way to go.

Some suggestions:

  • Roast with some salt and add almonds to a snack trail mix.
  • Chop walnuts finely and mix with cooked mushroom. Use to make ragu sauce (‘meaty’ tomato sauce.)
  • Include cashews in a curry dish.
  • Grind Brazil nuts into butter and use on sandwiches instead of peanut butter.
  • Cook pecans with some salt and a little maple syrup on medium/low heat for about 5 minutes, until syrup sticks to nuts. Use to top salad or oatmeal.

 

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