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How To Add Nuts To Your Diet
Including nuts in your diet is a smart idea. Besides their warm, satisfying flavors, nuts contain vitamins and minerals that we may not get from other sources.
Grabbing a handful to munch on always works. But I wondered if I could figure out some new ways to incorporated nuts in my day. And I ended up with three easy and yummy ideas that you might enjoy, too.
Nut Butters have become popular - peanut, of course, but now almond, hazelnut and others are widely available in stores. I decided to try making my own, and used walnuts that were already in my refrigerator. You can use whichever kind you like.
First, I roasted the walnuts to bring out their flavor. Here's how: place 1 cup in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Put them into a 350 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. Pull them out and check for burning. Stir them a little and let them cook a couple of minutes longer. Take them out and let them cool.
Then I made the butter this way: put nuts into a food processor. Run it for 2 minutes or until a paste forms, scraping the sides of the bowl down with a spatula if needed. If the paste is thicker than you would like, try mixing in olive or flaxseed oil by teaspoonfuls until it is the right consistency.
After tasting it, I added just a tiny pinch of salt. The flavor was just a little bitter, as walnuts are - you can add a little sugar to even it out. But it looked as creamy as the organic jarred brands and spread easily. My daughter enjoyed it right away on a bagel.
Note: Store the butter in a sealed container in your refrigerator to prevent spoilage.
Then I had another idea - turning the butter into a sauce or dip. I could imagine it with fruit or maybe on a coffee or pound cake.
It turned out to be easy: just whisk together the nut butter and low fat milk in equal parts. You can use water instead - or cream, if you want to make it more luscious. Then use it in fruit platters, or drizzle it over a dessert.
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Recipe: Spinach Quiche With Pine Nut Crust
One of the first ways I thought of using nuts in a recipe was as part of a crust. Since, I love making (and eating) quiche, I decided to try modifying a familiar recipe to include pine nuts. They gave a new depth to the flavor, and the crust handled beautifully - a winner all around!
Spinach Quiche With Pine Nut Crust
- 1 cup white or wheat flour, (I like combining them)
- 3/4 cup pine nuts, ground in a food processor or grinder to make paste (about 5 tbsp paste)
- 2-3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 small or 1 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups spinach, large leaves chopped lightly
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 3/4 cup basil, rolled up and cut into strips
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Measure the flour into a bowl. Add the pine nut paste, mixing it in gently with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Moisten dough with the water, then knead it a few times until it is smooth. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 415 degrees. When dough has chilled, take it back out. Roll it out, on a floured surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap, thin enough to cover the bottom and sides of a pie tin.
- When crust is in the tin, cover it with wax or parchment paper and put a layer of rice or beans on top (this will keep the pastry from puffing up). Bake for 10 minutes. Take away the paper and rice/beans and bake for another few minutes until it just starts to brown. Remove the crust and turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil to medium low in a pan. Saute the garlic for 1 minute, being careful not to burn it. Put in the spinach and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat to let it cool. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Add in the basil and cheese.
- Spread the garlic and spinach over the bottom of the crust. Pour the egg mixture over the top of that. Then bake the quiche for about 50 minutes until it is well set and the top is starting to brown.
- Sprinkle some extra cheese and chopped basil on top if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.