Nuts and nut butters have become a pantry staple for us. Nuts are great as a snack and I love using them and nut butters in the kitchen. You might have also noticed nuts are an important part of Pakistani desserts, they wouldn't be the same without them!
What are nuts?
The botanical definition of a nut is a fruit composed of an inedible hard shell and seed which is generally edible. For general usage and in the culinary sense, the word nut refers to a wide variety of edible fruits or seeds, generally a hard walled edible kernel. Just to give you an idea, nuts in the culinary sense such as almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and brazil nuts aren’t nuts in the botanical sense! Culinary nuts are categorized into:
True or botanical nuts: dry, hard-shelled, uncompartmented fruit that do not split on maturity to release seeds.
Drupes: seed contained within a pit that itself is surrounded by a fleshy fruit e.g. almonds.
Gymnosperm seeds: naked seeds with no enclosure e.g. pine nuts.
Angiosperm: seeds surrounded by an enclosure, such as a pod or a fruit e.g. peanuts.
What are the health benefits of nuts?
Generally nuts are a good source of fat, fiber and protein. Most of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated fat, as well as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Nuts have a number of vitamins such as vitamin E, vitamin B2 and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus. Potassium, copper and selenium.
How to use more nuts in the kitchen
Nuts can be eaten raw, sprouted, roasted as a snack, as a nut butter, pressed for oil, as a nut milk or nut milk yoghurt. I’ve been using almond milk for years now. I keep stock of almonds, pistachios and cashews to use in Pakistani desserts. We use crunchy peanut butter with oats for breakfast and I love having it with sliced apples as a snack. Smooth nut butters are great for homemade smoothies or protein balls. I love making my own spicy peanut sauce with smooth peanut butter as the base. I normally throw in a handful of cashews into a stir fry and almonds into a tagine or biryani for extra flavour, texture and richness!
What’s your favorite type or way to have nuts?