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Here is the blog post I promised from this week’s Ingredients Uncovered Instagram Live on cooking with nuts and seeds and it features five great recipes for you to try too! If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here!
Whether it’s cashews or pecans, pumpkin or flaxseeds kicking about in your cupboards, there are so many ways that you can cook with nuts and seeds to make your meals and snacks all the more delicious (and nutritious). One of the things I love about nuts is the crunch-factor. I think that nothing can quite beat the addictive delicious nutty crunch. Whether they’re eaten in salad, tart or out of the palm of your hand, whatever you’re eating it’s always satisfying and delicious. Nuts and seeds are as moreish as they are versatile; they work with almost any flavour, from salty to sweet. So take those bags out of your cupboard and breathe some new life into your cooking by getting creative with those nuts and seeds.
- Butters—If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of the stuff. You can make your own seed, nut or mixed seed and nut butter from any single or multiple combinations. You can keep it plain or add flavours like vanilla, cardamon, coconut, smoked salt or dates. I mean you have to have to try pecan butter with vanilla and smoked salt at least once in your life. And if you can’t have nuts, seeds work beautifully too and also come in cheaper. Here’s a video recipe for seed butter, but you can follow the same instructions and using nuts too!
- Milks—This suggestion is probably a really obvious one, but you can make your own nut or seed milks from but or seed (or grain), you just need a little soaking, some blitzing and straining it through a cloth. Simple.
- Sauces—From a creamy white sauce, to korma-esque curry or a chunky tomato and walnut ragu, add them in. You can also use nut butters to make your sauces and stews deliciously creamy. Do it. Here’s a recipe for a tomato and walnut pasta sauce that has me dreaming of slurping down the entire bowl.
- Bakes—from pastry to cakes, breads and biscuits, nuts and seeds make any bake even more delicious. Whether it’s a nut-spike pastry, a seeded oat biscuit or torta caprese (a flour-free chocolate tart), using nuts and seeds will add moisture, flavour, great texture and a toothsome crunch. Have a go at these delicious seeded Anzac biscuits that I made recently. I swapped the golden syrup for maple and reduced the sugar quantity to 75g and also used raw cane sugar. And I used regular oats.
- Nut cheese—As I said in the video, I’d prefer if these weren’t called nut cheeses, because I fear the name puts people off. But they can be delicious, so do yourself a favour and see past the name! From a soft spreadable cheese to aged and firm you can make these by fermenting any nut or seed paste, but usually the milder ones work best as you can then add lots of other flavours like herbs and spices. Here’s a recipe for a simple cashew cheese. You don’t have to use probiotic capsules, I either use raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother, kombucha, water kefir or brine from another ferment, like a sauerkraut. Use 1 tsp of your chosen starter liquid to for each capsule.
- Snacks and snack mixes—Nuts make really filling, delicious and nutritious snacks. Not to mention easy and quick. So snack away on something like Anna Jones’s Maple Seeded Snacking Mix.
- Crumb coatings—I often add seeds or nuts, but most often my milled seed mixes to make crumb coatings for wedges of veg, but it also works beautifully with cheese (hello crispy coated halloumi) or even homemade fish fingers. Mix with flour or use the milled seeds with some added spices, or just mill them and use them on their own.
- Toppings—From soups, to salads and crumble, even a simple bowl of yogurt or ice cream, they all benefit from a crunchy addition. And any crunchy topping worth its weight will benefit with the a few chopped nuts and/or seeds thrown in. Or simply toast and roughly chop your nuts and seeds and throw them on!
- Granola—Is it even granola if there aren’t any nuts or seeds or both? I prefer mine heavy on both and whole. But chop if you prefer and want to make your nuts and seeds go further.
- Tarts, Pies and nut roasts—These guys are key to making any flavourful veggie main more substantial, flavourful and make it feel fancy. Toss some hazelnuts in your onion tart, add some walnuts into the filling for your mushroom wellington or add a nut-laced pastry to your favourite pie. Or go all out and make a nut roast and go wild by adding in some seeds too—that’s Sunday lunch done right.
Nutritionally nuts and seeds area great source of fibre, healthy fats (Omega 3 and Omega-6) and protein—a real winner in terms of macronutrients. They are also a great source of micro-nutrients such as magnesium, copper, zinc, Vitamin B1 and Vitamin E. And thanks to all of those amazing plant chemicals, they boast some key health benefits such as helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and help to keep the brain, skin and eyes healthy. And here are some nutritional highlights for you:
- Hemp seeds are not only a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids (this is stand-out for plant-based foods) they are also high in omega-6, the lesser acquired, but just as important essential fatty acid.
- Walnuts are the antioxidant all-star of the nut world, with higher antioxidant activity than any other nut.
- Brazil nuts have been shown to reduce blood pressure quicker than statins (blood pressure reducing meds) up to 1 month after a single ingestion.
- Flaxseeds are a source of lignans, which are oestrogen-like compounds that have been shown to promote hormone balance.
To cut a long story short, add more nuts and seeds into your cooking repertoire. They will make your dishes more delicious and more nutrient-dense.