How to use nuts and dried fruit? Ideas and tips in the kitchen

How to use nuts and dried fruit? Ideas and tips in the kitchen

More and more people are starting to add nuts and dried fruit to their daily diet. Indeed, every day new scientific evidence is published to support the benefits associated with the consumption of nuts and the nutrients they contain: it seems that the daily consumption of 25-30 g of walnutshazelnutsalmondspistachios, pine nuts, etc. is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases but also of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

As for traditional dried fruit (where “traditional” means dried fruit that is not candied and with no added sugar), its nutritional value is partially similar to that of its fresh counterpart. This makes dried fruit an excellent alternative to contribute to the increase in fruit consumption in all those daily situations in which storing and cleaning fresh fruit could be complicated. It also makes it easy to keep a careful eye on the portions.

This has caused nuts and dried fruit to find more and more space in the food plans issued by nutritionists as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack suitable for both adults and children. This is also a way to encourage replacing packaged snacks, high in calories and rich in sugars, saturated fats, and additives but empty from a nutritional point of view, with food that is caloric but tasty and that, if consumed in the right quantities, represents an excellent source of unsaturated fats (the so-called “good fats”), proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

25-30 g of mixed nuts and dried fruit are always a welcome snack and easy to consume. Thanks to its versatility, however, nuts and dried fruit can also be used in many recipes, both sweet and savoury, both easy and harder. To be balanced, all meals of the day should contain all the essential macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Adding nuts or dried fruit to a dish can help to quickly integrate part of these nutrients as well as enrich it with fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Combined with fresh or cooked fruit and vegetables, the use of different types of nuts and dried fruit in the kitchen as a condiment in a pasta dish, as an added touch to a salad or, for the more daring, to a fish or meat dish can transform a daily occurrence into something original and different every day.

Here are some quick and easy ideas available on Nuturally to start experimenting with nuts and dried fruit in the kitchen:

  • Nut butter: a different way of consuming nuts? Why not spreading it on a slice of wholemeal bread, perhaps accompanied with some ricotta and honey? Good fats, proteins, both simple and complex carbohydrates, and fibre. Making homemade nut butter is very simple and every nut is suitable: almonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios... They can also be combined at will to create an original spread cream, customized according to your taste.
  • Oat porridge with nuts and dried fruit: a typical English dish based on oat flakes and milk (traditional or vegetable) or simply water to which you can add nuts and dried fruit, fresh fruit, seeds, chocolate, etc. A tasty and balanced dish with great nutritional value that changes according to how you decide to enrich it, making it different every day. Oats mainly contain carbohydrates and starch but also a small amount of protein and a fair amount of phosphorus, as well as calcium, iron, and fibre.
  • Homemade granola with nuts and dried fruit: granola - toasted cereals stuck together with honey (or other sugar) and nuts and/or dried fruit - is very easy to make at home and is a tasty and pleasant breakfast for all ages. Adding 3 tablespoons of granola (about 30 g) to Greek yogurt, a source of protein, and fresh red fruits is a delicious, energy-boosting breakfast full of essential nutrients.
  • Cereal and dried fruit bars: made with dates or figs or with cereals but always rich in mixed nuts and dried fruit, these bars are a tasty snack and easy to take with you, but unfortunately sometimes the list of ingredients gets a little too long due to additives, artificial flavours, or preservatives. Why not learn how to make them at home? In addition to being able to choose the flavours you like most, making cereal and dried fruit bars at home allows you to keep an eye on the list of ingredients.
  • Pesto and sauces: nuts are also an excellent ally to create creative sauces to season pasta dishes. Ready-made sauces available in the supermarket are often filled with simple sugars and large quantities of salt to make them tastier and more palatable at the expense of the product’s nutritional value. Preparing homemade pesto and sauces based on nuts is quick and easy: you just need a hand blender, the right ingredients, and a little imagination. From the traditional Genoese pesto with basil and pine nuts to the pesto of dried tomatoes and cashews, or the traditional walnut sauce which can be customized by replacing walnuts with pecans, similar in flavour but more delicate. Or also red chicory and almond pesto or pistachio pesto: The possibilities are endless, and a little inventiveness is enough to make a tasty and healthy sauce.
  • Dried fruit smoothie: summer is approaching and what’s better than a fresh and tasty smoothie? As well as milk or yogurt, you can make smoothies with only water or ice as well as fruit - the important thing is to serve it cold! Dried fruit can be used alone or together with fresh fruit to create tasty snacks for summer afternoons, adding vitamins and minerals to your diet in a cool and fun way.
  • Dried pineapple and mango infusion: what if instead of a smoothie you wanted to customize a herbal tea? Adding pieces of dried fruit to an infusion helps to enrich the green tea or rooibos (red tea) with taste and aroma. By taking advantage of the exotic notes of mango and pineapple, for example, you can create a tropical infusion with an enveloping scent.
  • Almond drink: increasingly used by lactose-intolerant people thanks to the absence of lactose, by those who follow a vegan diet, or simply by those who care about their wellbeing, almond“milk” has become a common drink on many tables and it is also suitable for children thanks to its mineral content which includes calcium and vitamin E. Often on the market you can find already sweetened almond drinks with a very high content of simple sugars: making it at home, however, is quite simple and could be a valid alternative to keep the quality and quantity of sugar that you decide to consume under control. Almond milk can also replace cow’s milk in various recipes (cakes, biscuits, etc.), making them lighter and reducing their saturated fat content.

We have presented only a few simple recipes but obviously there are many ways to use nuts and dried fruit in the kitchen: as a filling for meat preparations, in more “exotic” dishes (for example, chicken with almonds or cashew nuts, or pineapple used for a sweet and sour dish), reduced to flour inside meatballs, as a grain to enrich breading or to garnish a fish dish or a cream soup, inside dough for bread, biscuits, crackers, muffins, and cakes, and many other options.

Continue following Nuturally, the e-commerce for true lovers of nuts and dried fruit, where every week we will give you new ideas on how to use nuts and dried fruit to enrich your meals.

Source:

https://www.fondazioneveronesi.it/magazine/articoli/alimentazione/30-grammi-di-frutta-secca-al-giorno-allunga-la-vita1

http://www.healthrevolution.it/ http://www.nucisitalia.it/benefici-consumo/peso-corporeo/

Aksoy et al.; Traditional Dried Fruits: Valuable Tools to Meet Dietary Recommendations for Fruit Intake

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/01287?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=greek+yogurt&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=

http://www.sinu.it/public/20141111_LARN_Porzioni.pdf

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Chopped nuts and nut flours for your recipes
Not just a steadfast ally for maintaining wellbeing, nuts are also an excellent helpmate for cooking at home! Discover them and use them and use them in sweet and savoury recipes!

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