The Magic of Brazil Nuts
Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 26, 2009
I’ve been experimenting with plant-based nut recipes for several years now and have used a variety of nuts to create really unique salad dressings. But I had never made a dressing with Brazil nuts—until now. This dressing surprises people. They just don’t expect such awesome flavor in just a couple of tablespoons. And would you believe, there’s not a drop of vegetable oil in this dressing!
Thick and ultra creamy, this dressing is perfect for those who crave salad toppings that feel naughty to the core. But would you believe this thick and indulgent dressing is one heart-healthy salad enhancer. Keep in mind though, that with nut-based foods, a little bit goes a long way, yet still offers plenty of satisfying flavors.
You might be wondering why I’ve ditched the oil that’s usually found in classic salad dressings. Truth is that vegetable oil is just added fat calories and who needs that? Every tablespoon of vegetable oil, no matter what kind—even the much-revered olive oil, is 100% fat that plants 120 calories on your body. You’ll notice that the source of fat in this dressing does not come from minimally nutritious vegetable oils found in most salad dressings.
Instead, healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats from Brazil nuts give this dressing its richness and natural thickening. Brazil nuts have other charming characteristics, too. They’re revered for their outstanding source of selenium, a mineral known for its powerful antioxidant capabilities.
Researchers at the University of Illinois conducted a study published in the July 17, 2003 issue of the journal Cancer Research suggesting that the high levels of selenium in Brazil nuts may play a role in preventing breast and other cancers. Selenium aids in inhibiting the production of free radicals that can damage our DNA and deserves special recognition because compromised DNA paves the way for cancer cells to grow.
Brazil nuts are so well endowed with selenium that all it takes is one nut a day to provide the RDA for that mineral. Each nut contains 120 mcg of selenium, while adults require only 55 mcg a day. Pregnant women require slightly more, 60 mcg, of the mineral while lactating mothers need 70 mcg per day. A study published in the February 2008 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that eating two Brazil nuts a day could avoid the need to take any selenium supplements.
This important antioxidant mineral also helps to prevent inflammatory, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. Turn to Brazil nuts for a good source of protein, fiber, and impressive levels of potassium and magnesium. And if that weren’t enough, the nuts contain plenty of iron, zinc, and even the important trace mineral copper that plays an important role in collagen formation needed for bone formation.
Enjoy this Brazil nut treasure on any bowl of greens, and you might be craving salads more often.
ARTICHOKE BRAZIL NUT DRESSING
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
1/2 cup whole Brazil nuts
1 (13.75 ounce) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Grind the Brazil nuts into nut butter in a small electric grinder/chopper or coffee grinder and transfer to a blender.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until creamy and smooth.
3. Transfer the dressing to a serving bowl and serve with a ladle or use a funnel to pour it into a narrow-neck bottle for easy pouring. Covered and refrigerated, the Artichoke Brazil Nut Dressing will keep for 1 week.