Nuts: Good Health in a Bowl
Plus an Interview with Our Expert, Sam Squirrely
By: J. Marlando
Lots of people only eat nuts during the holidays or offer a bowl of nuts to chomp on during a beer-drinking Super Bowl or World Series game. Well, as a sports fan, I’m all for that but I’m also a big supporter of eating at least a few nuts every day. I have a special reason for this—Hazelnuts helps me manage my type 2 diabetes and like some other kinds of nuts actually work to improve my cardiovascular health. These nuts are also packed with natural vitamin E, an antioxidant that even helps maintain healthy skin. And, you don’t have to fill up on them, just toss a couple in your mouth, crunch ‘em up and be on your way. The trick is to do this at least once a day!
Incidentally, you can make hazelnut cakes and cookies too but I’m a salad “nut” so I love it when my wife cuts up some fresh spinach, adds a little oil and vinegar, mixes it and tosses a few whole Hazelnuts
Everyone loves almonds
Living here in Southern, California we eat a lot of avocados too. My wife makes a great avocado dip but my favorite is her avocado salad. Here’s the recipe I stole from her stack of recipes using sliced almonds.
Rip up one cup of lettuce
Rip up one cup of red leaf lettuce
Rip up one cup of spinach
Chop up 1/3rd half cup of red bell pepper
Peel and chop one ripe avocado and add to the mix (2 if the avocados are on the small side)
Mix in some sliced almonds
Sprinkle some tasty oil and vinegar over the top
And there you have a great tasting and healthy salad for two or three people.
One Brazil nut is
I love Cashew
By the way, my wife makes a great stir fry using cashews. I stole this recipe from her list too:
One pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small ½ inch pieces
Start the process:
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Heat in large skillet (Medium heat)
Add the chicken and let cook for five minutes or until lightly brown
Add (shiitake) mushrooms 4 or 5 chopped in half
Add 2 thinly sliced carrots
Add 1 red bell pepper, chopped
Add one cup of diced onion
Sprinkle over sliced almonds
Let cook for another 5 minutes: Keep stirring
Pour broth in a bowl, hoisin and soy sauce to taste, a little ginger and cornstarch.
Add this to the chicken mix, reduce heat to medium, let simmer until sauce thickens
Serve over cooked rice.
My second favorite nut is the handsome walnut
By the way, my wife makes a great dinner salad out of walnuts that we often serve when guests come over. It’s so simple even I could make it:
Two cups of torn spinach
A half cup of crumpled feta
Very thin sliced onions
3/4th cup of crumbled walnuts
Sweet tasting vinegar and olive oil
Mix and serve 2 (Adjust if you’re having company)
Finally we come to Macadamia nuts.
We are told that they contain the most amount of monounsaturated fat (MUFA) per serving which give us the greatest amount of nourishment for keeping our hearts healthy.
We human beings should eat nuts much more regularly than we do. Expert Joy Bauer tells us that we benefit our health every time we toss a handful of nuts in our mouths. They’re a delicious treat and a healthy treat too.
An Interview with Nut Expert Sam Squirrely
As a roving food reporter I’d heard that Sam Squirrely knew everything there is to know about nuts. Indeed, only two years before Chestnut Magazine named him Nut-Cracker of the year so I was a little nervous as I walked through the forest looking for his tree house. I found it by following my nose!
Mrs. Squirrely invited me in, a nice lady with a kind of chip monk smile and bright welcoming eyes. Anyway, as she walked me to the den, she told me that she and her husband, Sam, had just returned from one of their nut-tasting trips. Sam would fill me in, she said.
As soon as we entered the den Mrs. Squirrely introduced her husband and I and then left the room. Sam told me to sit down, that he had been going through some family pictures that day. “Here’s our children when they were first born,” he said, handing me their photo:
“Handsome babies,” I said. “How many kids do you have?”
“Only the two,” Sam said, “We’re not rabbits you know.”
“Who’s that?” I pointed to a picture he had just picked up.
“Oh, this is my son-in-law,” he answered. “I’ll never know what my daughter sees in him. He’s lazy and as you can see he’s a drinker
Mrs. Squirrely brought us in tea, served us some pecan cookies and left the room again. “So what can I do for you?” Sam asked.
“Well,’ I said, “I’m doing an article that I’m naming, Nuts: Good Health in a Bowl…”
“I like it already,” he was enthusiastically.
“I know that you are a nut enthusiast so I thought I’d pop in and ask you for an interview.”
“Well, ask away,” He nodded, chomping his cookie. “My wife makes the best darned pecan cooking in the world!)
“She certainly does,” I quickly agreed. “So when can we do the interview?”
“Why right now,” Sam answered, “You know what Goethe said, Der den Augenblick ergreift! Das ist der rechte Mann.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I…”
Sam winked at me. “It’s German,” he explained, “We were over their two Christmas’s ago for the annual Chestnut Roast. That was the year they interviewed me for Nut-Cracker Mag. Did you read it? I have a copy!”
“I did read it.”
“Good, good. Anyway what I just said was a quote from Goethe: He who seizes the moment is the right man. In other words, let’s get to the interview while you’re here.”
“Oh,” I smiled, “Thank you.” I pulled out my tape recorder and the interview began:
J: Do you have a favorite nut?
S: If I had to choose…I’d say walnuts. Yes, that would be it. Walnuts! Here’s a picture I took of a friend of mine at a walnut tasting in London.
J: Very romantic, indeed. May I ask, What exactly is a walnut?
S: Well, like all nuts they are a fruit with an edible seed. You will be interested to know that the world typically produces over 2.50 million metric pounds of walnut seeds per year. At least in 2010, China was the largest producer with a harvest of over 100,000 million metric tons back in 2010.
J: Where else do Walnuts come from?
S: Well, let me see…Iran, Turkey…India, Mexico, Romania and…the Ukraine…France and Chile. We attended a big three day Fiesta in Mexico one year—lots of poor Mexican Squirrel’s living on acorns though. I came from a poor family myself…acorns for breakfast, acorns for lunch and dinner. I can’t even look at an acorn today but, my kids like them alright. Speaking of kids, this was the first day of school for my little Sammy Junior. Now there’s a memory for you
J: Very cute…By the way, how did you like England?
S: I loved the walnuts but I thought the squirrels in London were…well, a little snooty for my taste. I don’t say that to my wife though because she has relatives from England. As a matter of fact, here is a picture of a painting of one of her ancient cousins
J: Ever been to Australia?
S: On, indeed yes. The Mrs. and I were down there just a little over five years ago for the Cashew Fest. I like the Ausies, they’re down to earth squirrels and boy to they love their cashews!
J: They must have a lot of….cashew trees down there?
S: Not many at all; a few but most cashews are from India, Vietnam, Tanzania, Nigeria and Brazil. Give me a minute, I have a picture of one on a tree…here it is
S: Here’s a picture of my bride while we were down there
J: Very beautiful.…Now how about Pecans? Do you know about pecans?
S: I’m a squirrel. All my relatives are squirrels. I know everything about Pecans!
J: Are they good for you?
S: All nuts are good for you! Pecans have lots f protein and unsaturated fats; they can help reduce the risk of gallstones in women. I have a cousin who lives up in the redwoods that makes beer out of them instead of hops. Which reminds me my daughter and her husband went up there on vacation and to visit relatives last year. Here’s another picture of that bum son-in-law of mine
J: Ever have Macadamia nuts?
S: As a matter of fact when my wife and I were in Australia. We took a side trip up to Queensland where they once grew in abundance in the wild. They have macadamia farms down there these days though. A lot of hippy-type squirrels move down there to mooch and lay around. I snapped this picture of one of ‘em
J: I sometimes think that it must be difficult living off seeds all your life.
S: Now wait a minute sunny boy. Don’t get the idea that just because we love nuts that doesn’t mean we don’t eat anything else. (He calls out) Abigail!
His wife enters: “Abigail,” he addresses her, “what are we having for dinner?
Abigail answers, charmingly: “Pinecone smothered in mushrooms,” she smiles, “with a wonderful fruit salad.”
Sam turns to me as she exits the room: “We have a wide variety of food including leaves, fruits, like we’ll have this evening, twigs, bark and all sort of tasty things. I have a cousin that eats snails and insects but I wouldn’t do that if I had to go back to acorns.”
J: Well, that’s interesting. I always thought that…
S: Yes, yes, I know. All we do is eat nuts in the summer and save them for winter! Well, of course there is some of that but you know you humans live off a lot of seeds too. When you eat oats, rice, wheat, you’re eating seeds. When you eat corn or beans, you’re eating seeds. I could give you a secret of life, my friend!
J: Well. Please do.
S: Most every seed you eat is dead from processing. In fact, your species live off dead seeds and other dead things. Tell you what, try eating fresh out of your garden for a week or so. That is, eat living foods and see how alive you begin to feel. You people could learn a lot from us squirrels!
J: Yes, I…I suppose we could but what about Pistachios? I love Pistachios!
S: Would you like to see a Pistachio orchard?
J: I would indeed.
S: This a picture of me
S: Thank you. Are you a history buff as I am?
J: I am.
S: It is written in our Book of Squirrels that our ancient ancestors ate Pistachio nuts from the hanging gardens of Babylon as far back as 700 B.C.
S: In fact, in our Book of Squirrels Pistachio trees grew in the Garden of Eden. With that aside, however, the trees were introduced in the U.S. as a garden tree in 1854. Pistachios are called culinary nuts, primarily because their shells split to release their seeds. If you’re interested botanical are those who do not split on maturity.
Oh yes, and for your information acorns are both culinary and botanical nuts. The Native America Indians used to blanch the tannins from acorns by putting them directly into a bag—shell and all—and place the bag in a fast moving stream and the brown tannins washed away. Boiling acorns does the same thing and then you can roast them like any other nut. I wouldn’t eat them off the tree though because those tannins can even upset our stomachs and we’re squirrels!
I don’t eat acorns myself. As I said that’s all I had growing up but my point is, you have to be careful what you eat when it comes to nuts. Pistachios can become moldy for example from growing in bad soil, or being poorly stored and have caused serious illness. For example in Kenya a number of people died from eating mold-infected and aflatoxin-contaminated pistachios.
Oh don’t look worried. Most pistachios you eat are probably grown right here in California and are grown and stored properly. They are good for you too, helping to reduce the risk of lung cancer. Anyway, with that aside, the big producers of the commercially grown seeds are Iran, the United States and Turkey. After harvesting, sorting and sun dried they are roasted. It’s quite a process to watch!
J: You’ve certainly been around.
S: (Sudden delight.) Yes, yes, I have haven’t I!
J: Anything else?
S: We haven’t talked about Hazelnuts. I have a cousin that lives up on a Hazelnut ranch in Oregon. Wait a minute and I’ll find a photograph of him. He’s quite talented! Ah, here it is, my cousin, Ashley at his piano
I shake my head and he speaks in a whisper: “When my wife and I were in Queensland I spotted this bathing beauty and snapped her picture. Is she a sexy doll or what?”
J: (What could I say?) Well I…a…hmmm…a….why yes, yes she is.
S: Anyway, hazelnuts are grown here in the U.S. Italy, Greece, Georgia; the South of Spain even in the UK. Turkey is the largest producer in the world! There are just a lot of nuts in Turkey!
J: My wife has cooked with Hazelnut oil.
S: Mine too! Mine too! You know Hazelnuts are rich in protein and have lots of thiamine and vitamin B6, and lots other B vitamins too. We eat a lot of them and I always feel calmer. They must be good for the nerves?
Well look at this, here’s that son of mine again
“Great memory” I said and that’s when Mrs. Squirrelly entered. “Almost time for dinner,” She said. “You will stay,” she gave me the warmest smile.
“I really appreciate the invitation but I…I have to be home for dinner. My wife is…a…making something but I’m sure your pinecones are wonderful…I…I think we’re having spaghetti but thank you anyway.”
“There’s a lot more to cover,” Sam said, “There are a lot of nuts in this world!”
“There are, indeed!” I agreed.
“Oh look at this,” Sam suddenly said with glee. This is our family picture,” he held it up for me to see.
“What a nice looking family,” I said. We bid one another goodbye and the interview was over. I had learned some interesting facts from Sam and went home to write them up.
Granted I have not covered every kind of nut there is in the world but I have tried to cover the one’s most popular that we eat. And so, I could not bring myself to write an article on nuts and leave out those tasty, lovable peanuts.
The most popular kinds are Spanish peanuts
What is typically unknown, however, is that peanuts are not nuts at all. They belong to the legume family with peas, beans and lentils. If this news put tears in your eyes just remember they are grown under the ground and not on trees. Nevertheless, peanuts, as they are called, are 25% protein and contain B-vitamins, fiber and Vitamin E. And the good news is that it has been confirmed that eating a handful a day or…even peanut butter may reduce risk of heart ailments, type II diabetes and even gallbladder disease. And speaking of peanut butter—peanut butter contains wonderful minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper and selenium.
And finally, my favorite peanut comes from my back yard tree where I grow my chocolate covered peanuts
If you enjoyed this article you should enjoy
A Great Healthy Treat
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