Country Kitchen: Using Nuts in Your Cooking

Country Kitchen: Using Nuts in Your Cooking

By Mary Emma Allen

Even though nuts generally are considered higher in fat than many foods, they're recommended in the diet because they contain natural monounsaturated fats. Nutritionists consider nuts fairly heart healthy. Some consideration is given to the fact that they even may help prevent some types of heart disease.

Various varieties of nuts, particularly peanuts, cause allergies with some people. So extreme care must be given when considering eating them alone or with other foods. The oils from these nuts can cause problems, too. This requires reading labels carefully to be sure that nuts and products derived from them are not included.

Since nuts are high in calories as well as fat, it's important that you achieve a balance in your diet. However, you also can include them in your cooking, as well as eating them out of hand. Find those that you like best, perhaps some that are lower in calories than others.

High in Nutrients

Nuts are high in nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. For instance one of the B vitamins, folic acid, is present in good amounts in most nuts. They also contain calcium, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and selenium, all of which are important in maintaining good health.

Some nuts are higher in nutrients than others. Studies indicate that you can increase magnesium levels by eating hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews. Folic acid is found in walnuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios.

Nuts in Cereal Mixes

I like to prepare a handy snack to carry with me as I travel. This consists of couple types of cereal that are easy to eat out of hand (chex and mini shredded wheat type morsels), along with walnuts and almonds (either whole or slivered).

I might add a few chocolate or butterscotch bits. I sometimes include raisins or dried fruit bits. However, the fruit sometimes can cause the cereal to lose its crispness if mixed together for a long time. So I usually carry the fruit bits in a separate bag to add as desired.

This mixture can be used as a snack throughout the day, added to yogurt or hot cereal, or served as a breakfast in itself with a cup of tea or glass of milk if I'm on the run. Many motels now provide a continental breakfast with cold and hot cereal. My cereal/nut/fruit snack is easy to add to a dish of instant hot cereal or a bowl of cold cereal.

Using Nuts in Your Cooking

You can add nuts to almost any type of dish.appetizer, soup, cereal, main meal dish, sauces, and desserts to enhance their appeal and nutrition. For those who don't eat meats, nuts provide nutrition.

WALNUT CAKE from the Allen Family Cookbook - Cream ½ cup shortening; gradually add 1 ½ cup sugar. Mix until light and foamy.

Sift together 2 cups flour, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Alternately add to creamed mixture with ¾ cup milk.

Stir in 1 cup chopped walnuts (pecans can be used). Fold in 4 stiffly beaten egg whites last.

Bake in well greased layer pans at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. You also can bake in 9 x 13-inch pan.

Article (C) 2005 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 40 years. She and her family compiled a cookbook to preserve their food heritage. She teaches workshops to show others how to do this, along with scrapbooking their family recipes. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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