Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘pistachios’

WHAT SORT OF NUTTY INDULGENCES WILL 100 CALORIES BUY YOU?

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 21, 2009

Gotta hand it to California pistachio grower Paramount Farms for the savvy way they chose to show off the pistachio by comparing 100 calories of pistachios to other snack foods. Those 100 calories deliver 1.1 ounces of pistachio in the shell, a very satisfying snack that can also rave about its good fats, high fiber, and high protein in addition to its vitamin A, its host of minerals, and its healthy measure of phytosterols.

Not so satisfying is 100 calories of chocolate chip cookie–that adds up to all of 1/2 of a cookie.

Also not too impressive is 100 calories of vanilla ice cream, which amounts to a mere 3 tablespoons. Both would still leave most people craving more.

You could also get 5 Saltine crackers for 100 calories (Oh, goody!) or 1/3 of a candy bar, but you wouldn’t be benefiting from anything good for you with those choices.

That 100 calories will buy you 14 gummy bears, but all you’ll get from those are 22 carbs (and not healthy complex carbohydrates at that) and 14.5 grams of sugar—neither will these rate high on the nutrition scale.

But that quiet little 100-calorie pile of 30 pistachios in the shell has so much more to give. While the other snacks contain less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, pistachios will give you 2 grams.

One ounce of pistachios out of the shell has even more fiber—2.9 grams and 5.75 grams of protein. Imagine, only 1 ounce can supply 5.75 grams of protein. That’s a pretty powerful little pile of nuts.

Packed with Minerals
The mineral content is where nuts really shine and pistachios are very generous. Here’s what 1 ounce will give you:

    30 mg of calcium
    34 mg of magnesium
    139 mg of phosphorus
    291 mg of potassium

Trace Minerals
Even the trace minerals are abundant in pistachios:

    1.11 mg of iron
    0.62 mg of zinc
    0.369 mg of copper
    0.340 mg of manganese
    1 mcg of fluoride
    2 mcg of selenium

Antioxidants
Pistachios even want to share some of their antioxidants with you—good guys that they are (I just love them!).

    Beta carotene 71 mcg
    Lutein + zeaxanthin 398 mcg
    Gamma tocopherol 6.41 mg
    Phytosterols 61 mg
    Campesterol 3 mg
    Beta-sitosterol 56 mg

From past experience and from observing how people behave at a party when they encounter the traditional bowl of nuts on the coffee table, I can predict pretty accurately that whoever is sitting in front of that little nut bowl is going to find those nuts very compelling. So compelling, in fact, that one little handful, about 1 1/2 ounces, will not be enough to satisfy. Within a short time, the nut bowl will be empty. That’s the typical snack addiction that catches people off guard.

So what’s the ideal quantity of nuts one ought to consider in the daily diet? Examining a number of nut studies, I noticed researchers recommend 1 to 3 ounces daily during the research trials.

I confess, that I am also a victim of the nut bowl snack addiction, but I’ve found a great
way to enjoy nuts, pistachios in particular, without getting caught up in their over-consumption.

MY SECRET IS TO PUT NUTS ON THE DAILY MENU BY INCORPORATING THEM INTO TASTY DISHES, RATHER THAN EATING THEM AS A SNACK. Nuts are so much more than a snack, They are wholesome, nutrient-dense food sources that can boost the healthfulness of any dish. If I include between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of nuts in a salad, soup, main dish, side dish, or even dessert, that dish will likely serve 4 to 6 people. That means that even if only 4 people feast on that dish, no one will be consuming more than 2 ounces of nuts at most.

Here’s a tasty way to enjoy pistachios, those wholesome little green wonders that bring us such pleasure:

This flavor-infused, layered vegetable casserole blanketed in a killer, thick, creamy, nut-based sauce is ideal when you need a dish to serve a large group. Like many recipes that include a blend of cooked ingredients, this one tastes even better when prepared a day ahead and reheated. If you take this delicious dish directly from the refrigerator, place it in a cold oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until warmed through.

PISTACHIO EGGPLANT NIRVANA

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 large eggplants, unpeeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 large onions, thinly sliced, slices cut in half
4 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems discarded
1 to 2 teaspoons canola oil

Sauce
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup pistachios
2 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons vanilla flavored soymilk
1/4 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil 3 large jellyroll pans. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside

2. TO PREPARE THE VEGETABLES, arrange the eggplants and onions on two of the baking sheets. It’s perfectly all right if some of the onions overlap, but keep the eggplant slices in a single layer. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Arrange the tomatoes on one half of the remaining pan. Toss the mushrooms with the canola oil in a medium bowl and pile them onto the baking sheet with the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes and mushrooms under the broiler, about 3-inches from the heat source. Broil them for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are softened.

4. When the eggplants, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms are done, set them aside and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees while preparing the sauce.

5. TO MAKE THE SAUCE, place the pumpkin seeds and pistachios into the food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer them to a 2-quart saucepan and add the soymilk and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring well. Adjust the heat as needed to avoid a messy boil-over.

6. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir to form a smooth runny paste. Add the paste to the gently bubbling sauce, a little at a time, stirring well with a wire whip until the sauce is quite thick, about the consistency of oatmeal.

7. TO ASSEMBLE THE DISH, layer half the eggplant slices on the bottom of the prepared baking dish, followed by half the mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes.

8. Pour half the sauce over the tomatoes. Layer with the remaining eggplant slices, mushrooms, and onions and spoon the remaining sauce over the top. Top the sauce with the remaining tomatoes and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.

9. Bake the Pistachio Eggplant Nirvana for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

For more data on the health benefits and nutritional information of pistachios, visit the Pistachio Health website.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NUTTY BAKER GOES WILD IN THE KITCHEN!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 13, 2009

I know I’m not alone when I say I have a thing for pistachios. They’re so darned lovable in practically every dish I’ve put them into. I had this wild idea to create a totally whole-grain, no-yeast bread and pack it with pistachios. I did it and it’s a winner!

Preparing, baking, and eating this bread will feel like Mother Nature paid a visit to your kitchen. This is not the airy white bread that comes from highly processed grains and leaves you with little nourishment. Because, this bread is made from truly whole grains and is prepared without yeast, it will be heavier, considerably denser, and delightfully earthy because it’s full of flavorful savory ingredients that give it a chewy texture.

Most of all, it’s delicious, but there’s something else very special about this bread. Wheat berries and oat groats deliver an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, 20 in all, plus protein, fiber, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. The oat groats add another dimension to the nutrition package—they contain soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol naturally.

pistcaperbread

PISTACHIO CAPER BREAD

Yield: 2 small loaves (4 to 6 servings per loaf)

5 1/2 cups water, divided
1 cup oat groats
1 cup wheat berries

1 tablespoon psyllium seed husks

2/3 cup raw pistachios
2/3 cup dehydrated onions
1/2 cup well-drained capers
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Place the oat groats and wheat berries into a large bowl and rinse the grains. Add 4 cups of the water to the grains and soak for 8 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a large jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Drain and rinse the soaked grains and put them into the food processor with 1 1/4 cups of the remaining water. Process the grains for about 2 minutes, or until they are ground to a coarse meal and all the liquid is well incorporated. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. If your processor has a small capacity, process the grains in 2 batches.
3. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water with the psyllium husks in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside for about 30 seconds to allow the mixture to thicken. Add the thickened psyllium to the processor and process it into the grains.
4. Transfer the grains to a large bowl and add the pistachios, onions, capers, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
5. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared jellyroll pans in two even piles and use the spoon to shape the loaves into thick rectangles about 5 x 7-inches.
6. Lightly cover the loaves with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool completely, slice, and serve.

Notes:
Oat groats and wheat berries are available in natural food markets. Psyllium seed husks absorb water and act as a binder. They are also available in natural food markets.

If not serving right away, wrap the breads separately in plastic bags and refrigerate for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving or wrap in aluminum foil, shiny side inside, and warm in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

I like to prepare these breads in advance and freeze them to give as gifts or to enjoy when guests come for dinner. To freeze, wrap the cooled breads separately in heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bags. Frozen, they will keep well for up to 4 months.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PISTACHIO POWER KNOCKS DOWN HEART DISEASE RISK

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 28, 2009

While there is still concern about salmonella contaminated pistachios, safe sources do exist. Check your local supplier, and ask questions about their suppliers. When you locate safe sources, stock up on them, prepare the incredibly delicious recipe below, and bone up on some heart-friendly pistachio facts.

Aside from being a tasty snack and a delicious addition to desserts, main dishes, soups, salads, sauces, and salad dressings, pistachios have proven themselves to be highly nutritious and medically effective in lowering the risk for coronary heart disease.

Several studies in recent years have focused on the natural cholesterol-lowering effects of pistachios without the use of statin drugs. One study conducted at Penn State University was a controlled feeding study using the American Heart Association Step 1 diet. The Step 1 study successfully demonstrated the powerful effects of pistachios in lowering total cholesterol by 8.4 percent and LDL cholesterol by 11.6 percent when eaten daily in three-ounce portions. Pistachios also contain high levels of antioxidants that aid in reducing inflammation in the arteries.

Another study conducted in Turkey and published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease in 2006, examined the effects of pistachios on plasma lipid profile and oxidative status in 24 healthy men and 20 healthy women. After one week on their normal diets, half the group continued their regular diet, while the other half substituted pistachios for 20% of their daily calorie intake for three weeks.
pistachio
Before and after the study, blood tests were charted for LDL (the bad cholesterol), HDL (the good cholesterol), total cholesterol, triglycerides, MDA (malondialdehyde), and AOP (antioxidant potential). After the three weeks, the pistachio group was found to have significantly decreased their total cholesterol, MDA levels, and total cholesterol to HDL levels, and the LDL/HDL ratios. The results showed that those on the pistachio diet decreased oxidative stress, improved their total cholesterol, and increased their HDL levels.

Those irresistible little green wonders are packed with protein and fiber, yet they are low in carbohydrates. Their high levels of good fats, mostly monounsaturated (fats), are part of their charm in lowering cholesterol. Pistachios are also a good source of arginine, a highly respected amino acid needed for the body to manufacture nitric oxide, known for its ability to dilate the blood vessels.

Natural plant fats called phytosterols are nature’s way of preventing the absorption of excess cholesterol into the blood. After peanuts, pistachios score next highest in phytosterols among the nut family with 214 mg of phytosterols for 3.5 ounces.

If you need a boost in potassium, count on pistachios with 1025 mg for that same 3.5 ounces. If you’re deficient in minerals like iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, or selenium, you might enjoy snacking on two generous handfuls of pistachios a day—that’s equal to about 3.5 ounces.

For so many nutritional needs, you can consider pistachios among your good friends. And to reap the benefit of pistachios to the fullest, be sure to reduce your intake of other dietary saturated fats, such as dairy products, meat, chicken, or fish. The studies and nutritional information were conducted using raw pistachios.

References:
Gebauer, Sarah K., Penny Kris-Etherton, Colin D. Kay, Sheila G. West, and P. Alaupovic. “Pistachios Lower Cholesterol, Provide Antioxidants.” Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04

Kocyigit, A, A.A. Koylu, H. Keles, “Effects of Pistachio Nuts Consumption on Plasma Lipid Profile and Oxidative Status in Healthy Volunteers.” Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease. 2006 16(3):202-9.

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Here’s a dish that frames beautiful, bright green pistachios with a backdrop of a golden brown garbanzo paté. Served as a casual, make-ahead dish, the paté becomes a tasty hot or cold filling for a sandwich. Cut it into squares and serve it as appetizer finger food at a party or picnic. To turn the paté into a hot or cold signature entrée, cut it into slices or wedges and serve them on a lettuce-lined platter with a dollop of Tofu Sour Cream and a sprinkling of paprika and minced chives topping each slice.

GARBANZO BEAN PATE WITH PISTACHIOS

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
garbanzopate

1 large onion, finely minced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 3/4 cups garbanzo bean flour
3 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup raw pistachios

Garnish
1 medium tomato, sliced, slices halved
1 Japanese or Persian cucumber, sliced
Sprigs of fresh dill or cilantro

1. Line a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan or a ring mold with enough plastic wrap to drape over the sides and set aside.
2. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic basil, curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and thyme in a large, deep non-stick skillet. Add the soy sauce, olive oil, and lemon juice and cook and stir over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is soft and transparent. Reduce the heat to medium.
3. Add the garbanzo bean flour to the skillet and add the water, a little at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Adjust the heat to medium-high, if needed, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches the consistency of very thick porridge and begins to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan. A thin, dry crust will form on the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the pistachios and stir well to distribute them evenly throughout the mixture. Spoon the paté mixture into the prepared loaf pan or ring mold, pressing firmly to eliminate any air spaces. Set aside for about 30 minutes to cool the paté. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the paté, covering it completely, and chill for at least 4 to 12 hours to firm.
5. Uncover the paté and unmold it onto an attractive serving platter. Garnish the top with quartered cucumber slices and surround the paté with the tomato halves topped with cucumber slices. Tuck a few springs of herbs around the base of the paté and cut it into serving slices or wedges.

Note:
Garbanzo bean flour, also called chickpea flour, can be found in Middle Eastern or Indian markets. Because this special dish needs to be refrigerated for a minimum of 4 hours to cool and firm, begin preparation several hours ahead or the day before.

Variation: Other bean flours, such as lentils or green split peas, can be substituted for the chickpea flour. To create your own bean flour, measure 2 cups of dried green or brown lentils or green split peas and grind them into flour in a small electric mini chopper-grinder or coffee grinder. This quantity will equal the chickpea flour measurement. You will also need to increase the water measurement by approximately 2 tablespoons.

TOFU SOUR CREAM

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 12.3-ounce box extra firm silken tofu
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Use immediately or chill for an hour or two before serving. Refrigerated, Tofu Sour Cream keeps for 1 week.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Bean Recipes, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NUT TRADITIONS IN AFGHANISTAN

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 25, 2009

Over the years while I’ve been teaching vegetarian cooking classes, I’ve developed recipes for a number of different international cuisines. Recently, I was asked if I could teach an Afghan cooking class at the Valencia County Library in Valencia, California. Naturally, I said I could. A little research turned up some delightful recipes I adapted to the vegetarian palate. The class was well attended with enthusiastic students feasting on Afghanistan’s charismatic cuisine featuring two delicious nut dishes I’m happy to share.

Afghanistan, I discovered, was along the silk route and adopted many of the spices from China and India as camel caravans crossed the Afghan desert. Spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, and coriander added exotic flavor to their cuisine, while their native almonds, walnuts, and pistachios contributed pleasing texture and heartiness.
almond3
Of special interest to me was that almonds, walnuts, and pistachios were native to Afghanistan and became a traditional ingredient in savory dishes as well as desserts. In both recipes below, Afghani Stuffed Peppers and Carrot Halwah, chopped pistachios and almonds are sprinkled on top as garnishes, adding appealing texture, and healthful dining.

Afghan Nut Customs
Serving tea and white sugared almonds is a familiar custom during Afghan festivals. Eid-e-Qorban is celebrated at the end of the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, when families and friends come visiting each other to drink a cup of tea together and share some nuts, sweets, and sugared almonds called noql.

Long before Islam arrived, Afghans began celebrating the New Year on the vernal equinox, March 21. A variety of nutty desserts awaited the visiting celebrants. One treat, a unique nut and fruit compote called Miwa Naurozee is an favorite sweet prepared by soaking dried fruits and nuts for two days. The nuts are blanched and combined with the soaked fruits, along with their soaking juices, then served in bowls or cups. Other nut treats, like the nut brittle Halwa-e-Swanak, made with walnuts and pistachios, and Sheer Payra, a walnut and pistachio confection, may be offered to guests during the New Year celebration. These holiday traditions are still practiced today.
walnut3
Many versions of halwa, a pudding-like sweet that includes either walnuts, almonds, or pistachios or any combination of them, is customarily offered as thanksgiving, called Nazer, to recognize a number of meaningful occasions like returning from a journey, visiting a holy shrine, or recovering from an illness. People offering Nazer give their neighbors, passersby, and the poor with a dish of halwa or other sweet.

Almonds have a very special role in the typical Afghan wedding, which takes place in two stages. The religious ceremony is first and is not attended by the bride. During the celebration portion the bride and groom are brought together and seated on a raised platform. After serving the newlyweds a fruit drink called sharbat and a wedding sweet called molida, sugared almonds and other confections are showered over them as a symbol of fruitfulness and prosperity.

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This exotic recipe originated as a ground lamb-stuffed chicken dish, but with lots of tweaking, the result is an extreme makeover. This tasty adaptation is now a wholesome vegan entrée with good looks, irresistible aromas, and hearty dining. I served the meal with a big tossed salad and a delicious grain called farro. However, more typical of Afghan cuisine would have been some Basmati rice garnished with chopped pistachios and minced parsley.
afghanpepper
AFGHANI STUFFED PEPPERS

Yield: 6 servings

1 green bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and cored
1 red bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and cored
1 yellow bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and cored

Filling
1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pistachios

1 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled
Zest of 1 small orange
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
Freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Sauce Topping
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper

1/4 cup unsweetened soy yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, place the prepared peppers into a 7 x 9-inch baking dish, and set aside.
2. TO PREPARE THE FILLING, combine the onion, carrot, garlic, water, and extra virgin olive oil in a large, deep skillet and sauté about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the onions and carrots become lightly browned and are beginning to caramelize. Add more water to the pan as needed to prevent burning the onions.
3. Add the raisins, almonds, and pistachios and cook 1 minute. Add the tofu, orange zest, lemon juice, salt, cardamom, dill weed, and pepper and mix well. Adjust the seasonings, if needed and stuff the mixture into the prepared peppers, packing the mixture firmly. Set aside and prepare the sauce.
4. TO PREPARE THE TOMATO SAUCE TOPPING, place the tomatoes and onions into the food processor and process until they are coarsely pureed.
5. Transfer the tomatoes to a 2-quart saucepan and add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Cook over medium high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Add the yogurt to the tomato sauce and stir well. Spoon a generous quantity of the sauce over the stuffed peppers. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and bake for 1 hour.

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While milk and ghee (clarified butter) are traditional ingredients in Afghan cooking, they have been replaced with alternative choices in this vegan version of a classic dessert served in Afghanistan and throughout many parts of the Middle East, including India. Still, the result is a tasty, brightly colored carrot pudding dotted with nuts and raisins and a hint of exotic spice. Serve the pudding warmed, room temperature, or chilled.
halwah

HALWAH-E-ZARDAK

(Carrot Halwah)

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine (like Earth Balance)
3 tablespoons raw pistachios, coarsely ground
2 rounded tablespoons golden raisins

4 cups coarsely grated carrots (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups almond, soy, or rice milk
1/2 cup organic sugar

1 teaspoon rosewater
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 tablespoon slivered almonds

1. Place 2 tablespoons of the margarine into a deep 10 to 12-inch skillet and add 2 tablespoons of the pistachios and all of the raisins. Cook over high heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to brown the pistachios lightly and plump the raisins. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.
2. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine in the skillet. Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they just begin to brown.
3. Add the almond milk and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed. The carrots will have cooked to a nearly pudding-like consistency.
4. Add the cooked pistachios and raisins, the rosewater, lemon juice, and cardamom and mix well. Spoon into 4 or 5 small dessert bowls or teacups and garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pistachios and a few slivered almonds.

Posted in almonds, Celebrations, Nut Desserts, Nut Folklore, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, pistachios, Vegan Desserts, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Nuts in the Bible

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 8, 2009

One rainy Saturday afternoon when I didn’t feel like jumping in the car and running errands or shopping, I decided to stay put and do some nut research. I was curious to see what the Bible had to say about nuts.

The best way to do my investigation was to find a concordance to the Bible, an alphabetical list of words used and the passages that contain them. Before the internet was around, I had to go to the library and find a copy of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

But that Saturday I sat down in front of my Mac, went to Google, and typed in “bible concordance.” At the top of the list was BibleGateway.com. I clicked on Keyword Search and entered the word “nut,” and what gems I found!

Genesis 43:11
Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.

Song of Solomon 6:11
I went down to the grove of nut trees to look at the new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom.
vangoghalmondtree
My next step was to learn what individual nuts were mentioned in the Bible. My search only turned up two kinds of nuts—almonds and pistachios. Almonds turned out to be the winner with eight entries while pistachios had only one that it shared with almonds. Since I have already given you the one shared by both almonds and pistachios, I decided to share the other almond passages with you.

Genesis 30:37
Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.

Exodus 25:33
Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand.

Exodus 25:34
And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms.

Exodus 37:19
Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms were on one branch, three on the next branch and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand.
almondunripe
Exodus 37:20
And on the lampstand were four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms.

Numbers 17:8
The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.

Ecclesiastes 12:5
And when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.

Jeremiah 1:11
The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.

Some people will read Bible translations where chestnut trees are mentioned in Ezekiel 31:8. Most translations including the New International Version will refer to the trees as ”plane trees.” Because chestnuts were growing in Asia Minor for centuries, I was surprised that chestnut trees were not commonly mentioned in the Bible

Ezekiel 31:8
The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. King James Bible, Webster’s Bible Translation, and Young’s Literal Translation

What surprised me was that two of the almond statements were repeated in different chapters of Exodus. The bible translation used in the Bible Gateway website was the New International Version.

Oh, and I hope you like the Van Gogh Branches with Almond Blossom 1890 painting above.

Posted in almonds, chestnuts, Nut Quotes and Toasts, Nuts in the Bible, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

TREASURE IN A NUTSHELL

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 7, 2009

I thought it might be helpful to have an overview of the nutritional highlights of tree nuts. While this listing is certainly a good quick reference, it only scratches the surface of the plethora of health benefits nuts have to offer.

It may seem that I’m promoting nuts as some sort of miracle food. Not so. I’m just recognizing nuts are one of Mother Nature’s many gems that are packed with goodness, especially when paired with other foods that are nutrient-dense and low in saturated fats.

In the information below there may be some terms that are unfamiliar. Here is a brief explanation:

Arginine –an amino acid that changes into nitric oxide that relaxes blood vessels and permits better blood flow. May help alleviate coronary artery disease like chest pain and clogged arteries (called atherosclerosis).

Phytosterols – natural plant fats found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that benefits the body by interfering with the absorption of excess cholesterol

Antioxidants – combination of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes found in plant foods that prevents our tissues from oxidation that leads to degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease

Tryptophan – an essential amino acid the body can’t manufacture and must get from food. Necessary for normal growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults. Used by the body to help make niacin and serotonin. Serotonin thought to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood

Folate – also known as folic acid or folacin, a form of the water-soluble Vitamin B9. Occurs naturally in food and can also be taken as a supplement. Helps prevent neural tube birth defects.

ALMONDS

    almond• Lower cholesterol, especially LDL (bad cholesterol)
    • Decrease risk for coronary heart disease
    • Lower risk for diabetes
    • Promote weight control
    • Good source of phytosterols
    • Excellent source of arginine
    • High in protein,
    • High in monounsaturated fats
    • High in minerals: calcium, iron, zinc, potassium,
    • High in vitamin E.
    • High in arginine
    • Packed with antioxidants

BRAZIL NUTS

    brazilnut• Provide powerful antioxidants
    • Highest level of selenium of all nuts
    • High in beneficial mono- and polyunsaturated fats
    • High in protein
    • High in minerals: calcium, copper, iron, potassium, and zinc
    • Source of arginine

CASHEWS

    cashew• Source of arginine
    • High in beneficial monounsaturated fat
    • High in protein
    • High in minerals: copper, potassium
    • High in folate
    • Help to lower cholesterol and decrease risk for coronary heart disease
    • Contain the highest levels of zinc of any nut
    • Excellent source of phytosterols

CHESTNUTS

    chestnut21• Super low in fats, especially saturated fat
    • High in B vitamins, good level of folate
    • The only nut to contain healthy level of vitamin C
    • Promote weight loss
    • Protect the heart
    • Lower cholesterol

HAZELNUTS

    hazelnut2• Contain the highest levels of copper of any nut
    • Protect the bones and blood vessels
    • High in minerals: calcium, potassium, zinc
    • High in folate
    • Lower cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol
    • High in heart-protective vitamin E
    • High in fiber
    • Good source of phytosterols
    • Loaded with antioxidants

MACADAMIAS

    macadamia• Highest in beneficial monounsaturated fats
    • Highest in B vitamins of all nuts
    • High in phytosterols
    • High in fiber
    • Source of arginine

PEANUTS

    peanut2• High in resveratrol a heart-protective antioxidant
    • Promote weight loss
    • Combat prostate cancer
    • Highest in phytosterols
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Highest in arginine of all nuts
    • High in mono- and polyunsaturated fats
    • Good source of protein
    • High in minerals: calcium, iron, potassium, zinc
    • High in B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber

PECANS

    pecan2• Highest in antioxidants of any nut
    • Good levels of phytosterols
    • High in beneficial monounsaturated fat
    • High in minerals: manganese, selenium, and zinc
    • High in B vitamins and heart-healthy vitamin E
    • High in fiber

PINE NUTS

    pinenut3• Excellent source of arginine
    • High in phytosterols
    • Good levels of mono- and polyunsaturated fats to keep cholesterol in check
    • Excellent source of protein
    • High in vitamin E and B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber

PISTACHIOS

    pistachio2• Impressive levels of phytosterols
    • Packed with antioxidants
    • High in beneficial monounsaturated fat.
    • Good source of protein, calcium, iron, copper, and zinc.
    • High in vitamin E and B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber
    • Excellent source of arginine

WALNUTS

    walnut2• Only nut (except butternut) with essential Omega 3 fatty acids
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Combat cancer
    • Boost memory
    • Lift mood
    • Protect against heart disease
    • Help to develop more than 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function
    • High in tryptophan
    • Loaded with antioxidants
    • Good source of arginine
    • Good source of protein
    • Good source of minerals: calcium, copper, iron, zinc
    • High in vitamin E and B vitamins, especially folate
    • High in fiber

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, Macadamias, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nuts and Health, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hooray for Pistachios!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 13, 2009

pistachioHere’s the scoop on PISTACHIOS, one of my favorite nuts. A recent study conducted at Pennsylvania State University found pistachios a benefit in more ways than just their ability to lower cholesterol. The study, a randomized, controlled feeding experiment focused on just 1.5 to 3 ounces of pistachios a day, or one to two handfuls. Both quantities were successful, but the 3-ounce quantity reduced total cholesterol by 8.4 percent and the LDL (bad) cholesterol by 11.6 percent.

This is awesome–researchers also found that pistachios contain higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant normally found in leafy green vegetables. Imagine—pistachios have levels of antioxidants that veggies like kale and collards are known for. The pistachios also contain greater amounts of beta-carotene and gama tocopherol than other nuts—more antioxidants. These antioxidants were shown to improve cardiovascular health by reducing serum oxidized LDL.

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Here’s a tasty pistachio recipe from my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet

I’ve served this super-easy appetizer to friends of all ages and all dietary preferences and can honestly say it’s a winner. I’ve even had this recipe on the menu for the cooking classes I teach with my husband, and our students have fallen in love with it, too. It’s the pleasing combination of peas, spices, and pistachios that creates the base of this Indian-inspired starter, while its uniqueness comes from the finishing splash of pomegranate syrup.

If you can’t find pomegranate syrup, don’t worry about it. Just leave it out and you will still have a very delicious appetizer. Serve the dip with toasted whole grain pita wedges or whole grain crackers.

Here’s another scrumptious way you can enjoy this super-easy recipe. Spread a generous layer of this dip over bread slices, top them with slices of tomato, place some cheese slices over the top, and broil until the cheese melts. Cut each slice into quarters or simply dig in with a knife and fork. Makes a great brunch or lunch dish!peakarachi

Yield:  5 to 6 servings

HOT KARACHI PEA DIP

1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup raw pistachios
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup or pomegranate molasses

1.    Combine the peas, pistachios, water, lemon juice, salt, curry powder, and cayenne in the food processor and process until creamy.
2.    Transfer to a 1-quart saucepan and gently heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly warmed but not boiling.
3.    Spoon into an attractive serving bowl and lightly drizzle the top with the pomegranate syrup.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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