“According to the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than those who didn’t consume nuts, according to scientists from the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Several previous studies had found an association between increasing nut consumption and a lower risk of diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, and diverticulitis. Higher nut consumption also has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, adiposity, and insulin resistance.”
-Harvard Gazette, November 21, 2013
I have heard for years about the benefits of nuts. I even remember the peanut (not oil) diet. Since I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I find that I am using more nuts than ever in my cooking. Not especially because of these findings but for other reasons as well. The main reason…they taste terrific !!!
I use nuts to replace up to 1/3 of the flour in a recipe. This cuts the carbohydrate content drastically and allows me and my family to continue to enjoy baked goods. The bonus here is that the ground almonds, walnuts, and pecans add a subtle flavor and texture to the finished product that in almost all cases makes it better than the original.
I use the nuts in recipes for my crusts, and make “flour” for my cake recipes by replacing some flour with either ground nuts or almond flour.
The ONLY differences are they are lower in carbohydrates, have a better flavor, and stay moister longer.
I have, as many folks, made string beans with almonds for years. The butter toasted almonds add incredible flavor to the dish. What I also discovered is that nuts (this time pecans) add great flavor and texture to my Orange and Ginger glazed carrots, and texture and flavor to a simple salad. For no work at all, we can turn a boring old green salad into a real treat.
And please don’t forget to add nuts to a chicken salad and take the ordinary to extraordinary. This works especially well if you are doing just a plated salad and excluding any bread. Pistachios are often forgotten as an addition to a dish. If you hate shelling them, they can be bought shelled. Just keep them in the freezer after opening the bag.
In Main Dishes
I have been making chicken with walnuts for years. I do it by stuffing the chicken with walnuts, parmesan cheese, and sauteed onion. But it also works if you pan fry a chicken breast and then add the nuts at the last minute or so. One of my favorite recipes is Wild Salmon with Pesto and Pistachios—very Middle Eastern flavoring. But if you HATE fish, use chicken instead.
Toasted almonds (or walnuts or pecans) add so much to a creamy dessert. Dannon’s Light and Fit Greek style yogurt takes on an almost exotic essence with just the addition of a few nuts.
My easy as hell Ricotta crème’s become better for the addition of just a few toasted almonds on top. It is the counterpoint of smooth and crispy that makes your tastebuds sit up and take notice.
Fresh berries become a real treat with toasted nuts on top and a little sweetened sour cream.
So, I think the findings of the Harvard study are great. If it helps keep you healthier, that is wonderful. That it makes foods tastier and more interesting at the same time…HORRAY!
Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT! and....go nuts!