My Nut of the Month for June, 2007: the Pecan

Nut of the Month for April, 2007: El Piñon

My Nut of the Month for March, 2007 the Peanut

March on out to the market and procure some raw Spanish peanuts. Spanish peanuts are good for you. Their skins contain oligomeric procyanidins, or OPCs, which strengthen capillaries and help to prevent varicose veins. Pycnogenol is another source of OPCs, but if you’re not unfortunate enough to be allergic to the mighty peanut, you can get your daily dose of them in a delicious way. Here is my own recipe for healthful version of Spanish peanuts: Soak raw Spanish peanuts just until they are all wet, in brine made with your preferred salt. Arrange the wet nuts on a baking sheet (avoid aluminum pans). Roast in a medium oven till they look brown–about 45 minutes. Wait until the Spanish peanuts are completely cool before testing. They ought to be crunchy, and if they aren’t, just put them back in the oven for ten more minutes. I served these at a recent party, and they were a big hit.

Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Pistachio, Magical Nut from the Near East

Pistachios are the new health nut. Research from the University of Toronto shows that they may reduce the risk of diabetes by decreasing the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. “Pistachios are high in protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fat,” explains study author Cyril Kendall, PhD, “all of which contribute to the slowing of carbohydrate absorption in the body.”Pistachios are delicious roasted and salted, as well as in desserts and pastries. In the U.S., pistachio-studded halvah was once only available in Brooklyn’s Middle Eastern neighborhood–I used to buy it on the famous Atlantic Avenue–but it can now be found at markets around the U.S. Of course, the ever-popular baklava-type pastries from Turkey and Persia, where pistachios originate, usually contain them mixed with aromatic honey.

Research has shown that eating 2 to 3 ounces of pistachios a day can help significantly raise your level of good cholesterol (HDL). Pistachios are full of vitamin B6 and copper, too, which help to increase your energy.

Pistachios salted and unshelled are available at a good price from Sam’s Club. I cannot remember the brand-name–it could be Sunkist–in any case, they are Californian. They’re delightfully easy to eat as a snack, and most welcome on party buffets. For baking, try to find unsalted varieties of these magic nuts.

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