Nuts for Nuts

Are You As Nuts about Nuts As I Am?

Ever since I was a boy, I have had a love affair with nuts. Not so much with the human sort, but with the kind that are kind to humans (to most of us, anyway) - you know, the kind that God designed for human enjoyment.

Like: walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, hickory nuts, macadamias, cashews, Brazil nuts, etc.

I have to blame my Dad for at least part of my nutty hunger. Dad was a nut nut himself, and every Christmas, he would buy a big assortment of nuts to share with us over the holidays.
Commercially grown nuts were expensive back then, and he didn’t buy them in quantity very often.

We would sit around the table, Dad and Mom and kids, talking and shelling nuts and having a grand time. Some we saved for Mom, who was a genius for knowing how to use them to full advantage in her baked goodies for the family.

It was all exotic to us. The walnuts and hazelnuts from the Pacific Northwest were a glorious treat, as well as the almonds from California and the Brazil nuts from faraway South America.
We would have friendly arguments - what is the best nut of all?

Even so, we were particularly blessed by living in a part of the US where wild pecans were available. To this day, I hold that it is pretty hard to beat a wild pecan for subtle and exquisite flavor. Creek bottoms were a haven for squirrels and little boys with sacks or buckets.

Mom would say, “Alright, boys, it’s time you go get some pecans, if you want any pecan pie for Christmas.” And did we!

We’d hike a mile north of town to the big park on Cache Creek, where wild pecans grew. We had to get there at the right time, not long after the nuts dropped, else the squirrels would get most of them (not to mention other hungry folks). We took our buckets and hoped we could fill them, which unfortunately didn’t always happen. Some years were an off year and the nuts were not abundant.

But in the good years, we were finding treasure. When we got home, we used nut crackers of various kinds (Dad was always looking for the perfect sheller) to extract the kernels from the tough shells, a chore we didn’t mind too much. And it was so tempting to snatch a nice piece once in a while for our own enjoyment. But we had to be careful to not overdo it. We had visions of nut pie dancing in our heads.

In Tennessee, our relatives could go out and get hickory nuts. Some folks liked them. In pioneer times, wild chestnuts were everywhere in the East. One wit said, with more than a grain of truth,
that a squirrel could climb a chestnut tree on the Eastern seaboard and travel west to the Mississippi River without ever leaving a chestnut tree.

The pioneer settlers would fatten their hogs on chestnuts. That must have made for some yummy pork. Nowadays, the search is on to find and propagate blight resistant chestnuts, so that old time treat may someday again be widely available.

Nuts Are Not For Everyone

I realize that not everyone can handle nuts, because of certain food allergies. My heartfelt condolences. So I beg your indulgence as I talk about this nutty business.

The truth is, for most people, nuts have lots of health benefits. Yes, they are loaded with fat so a person needs to be careful about over indulging, especially if he or she is trying to lose weight or just hold the line.

Fortunately, many nuts not only have the saturated fats, but also the unsaturated and mono unsaturated varieties. These latter two are good for you, in moderation. Studies have even shown that people who regularly consume nuts lower their risk for coronary heart disease. Many nuts are rich in antioxidants, and can act to lower cholesterol, especially pecans and walnuts.

Nuts contain vitamins of many kinds, including the B vitamins, vitamin E and essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and copper. Brazil nuts are extraordinarily high in selenium, which the American FDA actually acknowledges as helpful in the prevention of cancer.

And, just to add a couple of more benefits, nuts are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and nut fat has been shown to help in maintaining a healthy and attractive skin.

Delectable Uses For Nuts In The Kitchen

My wife finds many uses for nuts, from nut clusters to nutty fudge, homemade peanut brittle, banana nut bread, brownies, nuts in cake frosting and nuts on ice cream. I imagine her uses of nuts for desserts is unremarkable for many US households.

Checking online, I found a great looking banana nut bread recipe. All the ingredients and all the directions for how to make banana nut bread. It is the third recipe from the top at

Nut Gifting


Nuts make great gifts for your nutty friends. Gourmet nuts gifts will be received with pleasure by those who treasure great snack foods. A gourmet gift basket with all its yummy special foods, often including nuts, may be just the ticket to cement a friendship or to just say to someone, “I care about you.”

So, just go nuts. The nutty ones among us will understand.

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