Nuts are very popular these days with the rise of healthy lifestyle awareness and for a good reason.
Nuts are fruits and in general, they comprise off a hard inedible shell and an edible seed on the inside (this is not strictly true in botanical sense, but for the purposes of nuts as food, this definition will do). In nutritional terms, nuts are a bit of a powerhouse! Most nuts are fairly high in calories, with essential fats, vitamins, mineral, folate, fiber and protein!
Nuts make a great snack – simply eaten raw or roasted in the oven with a variety of coatings. For a savoury version, simply combine a plain oil with spices and add soy sauce, miso paste or marmite for a splendid umami hit! You can make a sweet version by adding maple syrup or honey and spices like cinnamon or even ground cocoa. Just a handful of these should curb those mid-morning/afternoon cravings.
These have a great all round use. They are not too rich with a mild flavour and can be roasted, chopped and used as a salad or soup topping, blended into a delicious nut butter, or soaked and turned into a creamy non-dairy milk. Since they are not too oily, they also work well in baking when ground finely into flour. They add a fantastic crunch and depth of flavour to cakes (just substitute a couple of tablespoons of flour with almond flour), give body to gluten free bakes and of course, they give macarons the heavenly texture we love.
Marmite roasted cashews is my favourite snack! The texture is crunchy on the outside, but seductively creamy and soft in the centre and the salty flavour pairs well with the subtle cashew finish. However, they are the secret weapon in vegan and ‘raw’ cuisine. When soaked and blended, they add an intense richness, turning dairy free sauces, dressings and even desserts into an indulgent treat. Ideally soak them over night, but at least 3 hours in water will do the trick!
These are much more robust in flavour, but are still incredibly versatile and can be used in sweet cooking (think walnut and coffee cake) as well as savoury. They work well added to salads, home-made breads or turned into rich pestos and dips.
These bright green jewels are a great finisher to dishes such as salads, dips, tagines, cous cous and soups or stews. They are plump and meaty (stick to the non-roasted variety) and complement many dishes. You can add them to your nut butter, milk, dips, sweet bakes, just make sure to make the most of them, as they can be pricey.
These work particularly well in sweet dishes, such as granola, porridge and pastries, but they also make a really indulgent nut butter and nut milk. However, they are often utilised in savoury cooking where their sweetness adds another element to the flavour profile of the dish. They are often used in pastas with strong savoury flavours, such as anchovies alongside a sour touch of lemon zest and juice.