There are two basic varieties of nuts: "ground nuts" and "tree nuts". As you might expect, groundnuts grow in the ground. Peanuts are an example of a groundnut. Almonds, filberts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios are tree nut varieties that grow on trees.
More and more people are discovering the great news about nuts. Clinical studies have shown that nuts can lower levels of LDL cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol, when substituted for food high in saturated fat and eaten as part of a low fat, low cholesterol diet.
Much of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, the same kind of fat found in olive oil and canola oil. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, sometimes called "good" fats, help the body lower cholesterol when they replace saturated fat in the diet.
Nuts about Nuts: Varieties
Originating in China, almonds contain fibre, and copper. Almonds grow on trees, which is why they are also categorized as "tree nuts".
Straight from the Southern U.S. - pecans contain fibre, zinc, and copper.
Hailing from Spain, the walnut is a good source of magnesium and contains copper.
Peanuts originate from Peru, although they now grow around the world. The southern US is a big producer of peanuts in North America. They are also called groundnuts, goober peas and earthnuts. Peanuts are actually a legume and grow underground. Packed with nutrition, peanuts contain: vitamin E, niacin, magnesium and manganese. Peanuts are sold in or out of the shell, roasted, salted or flavoured.
Cashews are from Brazil, India, and Africa and are high in copper. They also contain zinc, magnesium and manganese.
Pistachios are cultivated in areas such as California, Italy and Turkey. The pistachio nut has a hard, beige coloured shell. The shells are sometimes coloured red with a vegetable dye. The pistachio nut is a pale green colour. Pistachios are rich in calcium, iron and vitamin A.
Nuts have a high oil content that makes them susceptible to spoilage. To keep shelled nuts from turning rancid, store them in the refrigerator. If you buy nuts in bulk and want to keep them for several months, store them in the freezer.
Shelled nuts can be refrigerated up to 4 months and frozen up to 6 months.
Cooking / Preparation
Toast nuts to add crunch and intensify their flavour.
Oven method - spread nuts into shallow baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until nuts are golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Stove top method - Place nuts in ungreased skillet; cook on medium heat until golden brown, stirring frequently.
Nutty Food Ideas
- Add cashews or peanuts to Chinese vegetable stir-fry dishes.
- Sprinkle chopped nuts on yogourt, hot or cold cereal.
- Add chopped macadamias or pistachios to your favourite bread, pancake, waffle or muffin recipe.
- Sprinkle almonds in a salad.
- Don't want to overdo a good thing? Divide your favourite nuts into 1-ounce portions - (roughly a handful) and store them in individual bags. This way, you can simply grab a bag of nuts on your way out the door, or keep a bag on hand in the car or in your desk, for easy snacking.