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TREE NUT AND SEED OILS–A BENEFIT TO SOME– A VICIOUS TIGER TO OTHERS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 6, 2015

Need a little argan oil to soften your dry skin? I had never heard of the stuff until recently, but I’m learning quickly about its allergenic challenges along with its benefits, thanks to the helpful comments I received on this blog. The oil comes from a tree nut, which explains why people with tree nut allergies are experiencing skin irritation after using the oil. arganoil2

Because argan oil and shea butter have beneficial moisturizing effects on the skin, many cosmetic, body, and hair care manufacturers include them in a host of new products. They’re in common use today and turning up everywhere, causing unpleasant allergic reactions in people who suffer from tree nut allergies.

Prompted by the comment about a previous post (Beware the Cashew Allergy–and the Secret Mango Culprit!), I began to research the plaguing issue of allergic reactions from nut-derived ingredients, like tree nut oils, in body care and beauty products. What seems cashew2like a benign moisturizing lotion designed to soothe and comfort dry skin just might be the hidden culprit of a miserably itchy rash.

People with serious tree nut allergies are almost always super-vigilant about avoiding any kind of nuts oralmond3 foods that contain nuts or nut oils, knowing that eating them will cause serious reactions, like anaphylaxis, that could send them to the emergency room. Serious tree nut allergies don’t usually come and go–they are generally life-long.

But what about people who rarely eat nuts and don’t realize they may have sensitivity to tree nuts and products containing nuts and nut oils?

Common tree nuts include Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts. Uncommon tree nuts, used mostly in the form of oils in cosmetics and beauty, hair, and body care products include the argan nut, sold as argan oil, and shea nut, marketed as shea butter.

RASHES, ECZEMA, AND SKIN ERUPTIONS ARE NO PICNIC
Milder reactions to tree nuts may result in itchy rashes or pesty eczema that people might not readily trace back to nuts or nut products. After all, nuts are healthy foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and a host of antioxidants. Sufferers of these nasty, and sometimes very ugly, rashes may be applying beauty and body care products regularly without realizing they are THE PROBLEM. Another puzzler is allergic symptoms that show up after long-time use of a nut-or nut-oil-containing product.
pistachio
almond2Manufacturers may say their product does not contain detectable protein residues from tree nuts, the trigger that causes allergic reactions, yet people sensitive to tree nuts and nut oils still react with eczema, rashes, and skin eruptions that drive them crazy with severe itching or burning.

Seeds, like sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax, and oils from these seeds are also troublesome for some allergy sufferers and may cause similar reactions.

ASK THE FDA FOR WARNING LABELS
The real issue is that people don’t tend to read ingredient labels of the body care products they buy. And in some cases, not all of the ingredients are listed on the product label because there are so many. In those cases, consumers are encouraged to contact the product manufacturer. Because the ingredients of these products are usually in a daunting list of unfamiliar chemicals, most people ignore them.

While tree nut or seed oils used in cosmetic products may appear in the ingredient list, warning notations below the ingredient lists are rare and strictly voluntary. Just like foods containing tree nuts and other food allergens must be disclosed by naming the specific nut on the product packaging, the same ought to be protocol for body care and cosmetic products.

A warning on product labels like the following would be invaluable to those who must avoid these challenging allergens: “Warning: This product contains oils derived from tree nuts and/or seeds.

TREE NUT ALLERGY SURPRISES CLAUDE
Poor Claude (comment section below) suffered a double whammy when he first applied argan oil to soothe the rash on his hands and body caused by eating cashews and pistachios. Argan oil is derived from a nut tree grown in Morocco. Users of the oil consider it a healthy culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal oil, but for Claude, the oil added fuel to the fire.

Then, when Claude applied Cetaphil Lotion to alleviate his rashy misery, the rash worsened. Little did he realize that the macadamia oil in this product piled more fuel onto the raging fire. The product lists the macadamia oil in its ingredients, but Claude was unsuspecting that he actually had a nut allergy.

Here’s the note from Claude:
“Thank you, Zel, for helping lots of people, including me. Argan oil is from a tree nut, very similar to Pistachio. Lots of people report rash with Argan oil (used for hair & skin). I have rash on my hands & body recently from eating cashew and pistachio. Then I was foolish to use Argan oil for the rash & bleeding skin. And it got TWICE WORSE. If you Google pictures of Pistachio versus Argan nuts … the clusters are similar.

“Then I bought Cetaphil lotion (has Macadamia nut oil), and the rash got even worse !!! Thanks to your blog, I’ll stop eating cashew & pistachio. Will give away the Argan oil & Cetaphil lotion (recommended by dermatologists!!!)”

**********************************
ARGAN OIL–NICE OR NAUGHTY
Those who are allergic to tree nuts might want to add argan oil to their list of allergens to avoid. Argan arganoil may contain similar proteins as tree nuts that trigger life-threatening allergic reactions, namely shortness of breath and anaphylaxis, and should be avoided.

Argan oil is extracted from the almond-like nuts of the argan tree, Argania spinos, a fruit-bearing tree that grows wild in the desert regions of Morocco, Israel, and Algeria. The nuts, considered the fruit of theArgan Nuts tree, are classified as tree nuts. Because argan oil is not highly refined and is cold-pressed, it may retain some or all of the allergenic protein that causes allergenic skin reactions in some people.
Argan tree
Allergic reactions to argan oil include skin eruptions that might resemble acne appearing on the neck, upper back, chest, and around the hairline. Other people may react with contact dermatitis, appearing as red, scaly and itchy skin.

One person loved the way her skin looked while using argan oil but reported having a sore throat and swelling of the tongue she never connected to the oil until she discontinued using it and the symptoms disappeared.

After using argan oil shampoo, some people developed severe dryness of the scalp, itching, and even pain.

Beauty in the Breakdown Blog reported dramatic breakouts with red, itchy, bumpy, and burning rash over the hands, face, shoulders and head after using argan oil on the hair.

Blog author Emily Bell says, “From my research, I have collected my own preliminary list of what to avoid in beauty products if you have a tree nut allergy: argan oil, almond oil, macadamia nut oil, shea butter, ginkgo biloba, and any derivation of walnuts such as walnut shell powder or Brazil nuts such as Brazil nut protein (in the Aveda Be Curly Style-Prep).

“In going back and inspecting all my beauty products, I have seen it all. There is also some debate on whether coconut oil should be added to the list, but I personally haven’t had a reaction to it. (Update: There is also some debate on whether shea butter should be on the list. I absolutely love the smell of shea butter but have yet to determine whether or not I react to it.)”

Sold as a non-greasy oil for softening and hydrating the skin, the argan oil is used on the scalp and hairarganoil__16010.1408225053.550.550 as well as the skin. As hair oil, it’s used to prevent frizzing and split ends. With its high fatty acids content, the oil is thought to aid in preventing brittle hair. Because it contains high levels of vitamin E and antioxidants, some consider it to have anti-aging properties that help the skin retain its elasticity, softness, and youthful appearance.

In addition to being the source of oil used in cosmetic products, the argan tree provides other benefits in its native region. Its leaves are healthy food for cattle, while the wood becomes fuel for indigenous people.

The oil also has culinary uses in the regions where the argan tree is grown. Home cooks drizzle it on couscous and other native foods. The oil extraction process produces a thick residue that’s sweetened by Berber cooks and used as a dip for bread, a traditional breakfast treat.

Medicinally, the oil is a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherol, and phenolic compounds considered beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and atherosclerosis. Some studies reported the oil helps to lower cholesterol, stimulates circulation, and improves immune function.

SHEA BUTTER COMES FROM A NUT TREE
SheaBecause I use so few cosmetics and body care products, Ith-1 never gave shea butter much thought and had no idea of its origin until now. Shea butter, I learned, is derived from a fruit-bearing nut tree that grows wild in West and Central Africa and is known by many names, sometimes called the karite nut or vitellaria paradoxa. The fruit of the tree looks similar to an avocado, and when crushed, it produces oil highly prized for use in cosmetics.

The oil of the shea nut contains only a minimal amount of protein, the constituent in tree nuts thatSheaButter2 triggers allergenic reactions. It’s not considered highly allergenic, but very sensitive people may want to exercise caution and avoid products containing shea butter. Though shea butter is not commonly used in cooking, it has sometimes provided a good substitute for cocoa butter used in chocolate processing.

Allergic symptoms may be as severe as anaphylaxis and asthma or mild as allergic rhinitis. Using shea butter can also result in annoying symptoms like dermatitis or hives, known medically as urticaria, resulting in itching or burning. Some people have even reacted with vomiting.

On the positive side, one health study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1979 noted a medicinal value for shea butter in reducing nasal congestion in people suffering from rhinitis. Known mainly for its ability to soften and soothe dry skin, shea butter is often applied to calm skin rashes, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Yet, for some people with tree nut allergy, shea butter is the cause of those miserable rashes and severe itching.

A NOTE OF APPRECIATION
I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has taken the time to offer comments and encourage other to share their issues, too. Those comments were extremely helpful and are what prompted me to do a bit of research and share what I’ve learned about ingredients I never suspected would be problematic.

While my son is still plagued with itchy rashes that drive him a bit nutty, he is still sorting out troublesome ingredients that may be hidden in unexpected places.

Please do keep the comments coming. As new information comes my way, I’ll gladly pass it on in this very nutty blog.

References:
“Argan oil.” Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argan_oil

Astier*, C., El Alaoui Benchad, Y.,. Moneret-Vautrin, D.-A., Bihain, B. E., and Kanny, G.. “Anaphylaxis to argan oil.” European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 15 Oct 2009. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02200.x

Bell, Emily. “Argan oil update: tree nut allergy?” Beauty in the Breakdown. June 20, 2013.
https://beautybdown.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/argan-oil-tree-nut-oil-update/

Berrougui, H., Cloutier, M., Isabelle, M., and Khalilm A.

“Phenolic-extract from Argan Oil (Argania spinosa L.) Inhibits Human Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) Oxidation and Enhances Cholesterol Efflux 
from Human THP-1 Macrophages.” Atherosclerosis. 2006 Feb;184(2):389-96. Epub 2005 July 12.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019008

Castle, Jill, “14 Hidden Allergens in Everyday Products: Common Foods and Non-Foods Contain Hidden Allergens.” About Health. January 25, 2015.
http://foodallergies.about.com/od/livingwithfoodallergies/fl/14-Hidden-Allergens-in-Everyday-Products.htm

Drissi, A., “Argan Oil Research.” Amal Oils. http://www.amaloils.com/Argan-Oil-Research

Drissi, A., Bennani, H., Giton, F., Charrouf, Z., Fiet, J., and Adlouni, A. “Tocopherols and Saponins Derived from Argania spinosa Exewrt, an Antiproliferative Effect on Human Prostate Cancer” Cancer Invest. 2006 Oct; 24(6):588-92.

“Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004 Questions and Answers.” FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. July 18. 2006.
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm106890.htm/

“Is Argan Oil Safe For People With Tree Nut Allergies?”. OneSpot Allergy http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2014/04/is-argan-oil-safe-for-people-with-tree-nut-allergies/

“Nut and Peanut Allergy.” Teens-Health from Nemours.
http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/nut_allergy.html/

Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. Vitellaria paradoxa. Shea oil, shea butter, beurre de karate. 2009 Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sites/treedbs/treedatabases.asp

“Special Precautions when Using Moroccan Oil Shampoo.” Argan Oil Care. July 15, 2014.
http://arganoilcare.com/moroccan-oil-shampoo/

Summers, Gerrie. “Shea Butter: What It Is, Why It Works.” About Style.
http://multiculturalbeauty.about.com/od/Natural/a/Shea-Butter-What-It-Is-Why-It-Works.htm

Tella, A. “Preliminary studies on nasal decongestant activity from the seed of the shea butter tree, Butyrospermum parkii.”
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1979 May; 7(5): 495-497.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1429586/

“Tips for Avoiding Your Allergen.” FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education.
http://www.foodallergy.org/document.doc?id=133

“Tree Nut Allergies.” FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education
https://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/tree-nut-allergy

“What are Argan trees; what is argan oil?” Yahoo Answers.
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A0SO8xl8XSVVJy4AqG5XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzZ2Q1aXM1BGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDVklQNTc5XzEEc2VjA3Nj?qid=20110905084730AAXNVKS

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WARNING: PRETTY PINK PEPPERCORNS CAN BE DANGEROUS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 19, 2014

Pink peppercorns, appealing and innocent-looking pink berries, can have the same serious, 105_5_11_13life-threatening allergenic potential for anyone who suffers from a tree nut allergy. People who avoid eating nuts because of tree-nut allergies may also want to avoid pink peppercorns. Pink peppercorns are members of the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) that includes cashews, pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac.

Thanks to the conscientious effort of Christina who writes Christina’s Cucina blog, I now have important allergenic information to share.

The serious side of pink peppercorns
Christina brought this critical allergen to my attention because her young daughter experienced 4490858102_603b6eef7a_zanaphylaxis, a life-threatening episode, after eating a food containing pink peppercorn seasoning. Because the child had a serious tree-nut allergy, the family made conscious efforts to avoid all nuts. A restaurant meal containing seasoning that included pink peppercorns brought on the anaphylactic episode. Fortunately, nature played a prominent role in her recovery, causing the child to vomit and expel the toxic substance.

However, the family was puzzled about the food that caused the severe reaction. After extensive research, Christina learned about the connection of this seasoning ingredient to the cashew family and confirmed that the chef at the restaurant had used pink peppercorns.

Because of her concern for others with nut allergies, Christina contacted Penzeys Spices and asked that a warning be placed on the labels of any of the spice blends containing pink peppercorns. The company complied and now has warnings on containers that include “pink pepperberries.” Penzeys Spices also includes the warning in their popular spice catalog.

Still concerned, Christina contacted Trader Joe’s and requested they label pink peppercorn as a tree nut, because of its relationship to the cashew family. Trader Joe’s responded as follows:

“The FDA has very strict guidelines for top 8 allergen labeling and we cannot place a warning for non-top 8 allergens on our product labeling. Pink peppercorns are not considered a top 8 allergen by the FDA and therefore we cannot include this in an allergen statement for our products. However, we will also be sure to share your comments and specific concerns with the appropriate parties within our Quality Assurance and Buying Teams for further review and consideration in the
future”

Pink peppercorns receive the guilty verdict
Others with tree-nut allergies have innocently encountered pink peppercorns, resulting in anaphylaxis and an emergency trip to the hospital. A 26-year old woman developed anaphylaxis after eating pink peppercorn seasoning. She had a tree nut allergy and experienced previous life-threatening episodes after eating cashews unknowingly. Cashews can be hidden in prepared foods and restaurant meals in unexpected foods like creamy sauces. The occurrence was a mystery until she learned about the relationship of pink peppercorns to the cashew-mango family. This incident was reported in The World Allergy Organization Journal Feb 2012; 5(Suppl 2) S152. Published online Feb. 17, 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512604/

0003068489176_500X500
Researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Department of Allergy and Immunology, reported on the case of the 26-year old woman mentioned above. They concluded, “This is the first reported case of a patient developing anaphylaxis after pink pepper ingestion. Patients with tree nut allergies may need to be educated regarding this potential allergen.” The researchers also noted there is potential for cross-reactivity among different members of the Anacardiaceae family.

Some people are so sensitive to tree nuts and, especially peanuts, that even touching nuts or inhaling in their presence may be serious. The allergenic substance in the pink peppercorns may be urushiol, an oily substance present in some members of the Anacardiaceae family. With mangoes, urushiol is found in the skin, while it is the shell that clings tightly to the cashew nut that contains the allergen. In poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, urushiol is an oleoresin present in the sap. This oil can cause allergenic reactions rather quickly.

In his revised and updated book On Food and Cooking; The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, author Harold McGee writes about pink peppercorns, “The tree is in the cashew and mango family, which also includes poison ivy and poison oak, and its brittle, peppercorn-sized fruits contain cardanol, an irritating phenolic compound that limits its usefulness in foods.”

Share this important message
The Food Allergy Research & Education organization advises that people with a tree nut allergy be prepared with emergency medication in case of anaphylaxis. They suggest having an epinephrine auto-injector like an EpiPen, Auvi-Q or Adrenaclick on hand at all times.

I’m aware that knowing this information could save your life or the life of someone you know. If you suffer from a tree nut allergy or know someone who does, I urge you to share this information and encourage others to read the ingredient labels carefully when purchasing spice blends to avoid these highly allergenic pink berries. Even if you’ve been using a product for a long time and think you’re familiar with the ingredients, read the label anyway. Manufacturers make changes in their formulations from time to time and are required to list new ingredients on their labels.

Families with young children with severe nut allergies need to take special precaution to make sure their foods are free of the entire family of nuts and related foods like pink peppercorns, and sometimes even sesame and sunflower seeds, which have properties similar to tree nuts.

Ask specifically about nut-containing ingredients at restaurants, friends’ and relatives’ homes, and daycare centers to prevent tragic life-threatening episodes. I know it’s a time-eater, but packing your child’s school lunches could be lifesaving. For those times when your child eats at the school cafeteria, I also think it’s important to ask about all the ingredients in prepared school lunches.

Teachers and day-care workers may find invaluable help at AllergyReady.com, a website that offers a free version of their program called How to C.A.R.E. for Students with Food Allergies, an online course.

About pink peppercorns
Research about pink peppercorns reveals they are not actually part of the Southeast Asian black pepper family at all, but are often included in colorful peppercorn blends that feature white, black, green, and pink whole pepper berries. Pink peppercorns offer a milder hint of spice than black pepper and have a delicate, sweet, fruity flavor due to sugar content. These peppercorns also add attractive color and appealing flavor to pepper blends and seasoning mixtures.

Members of the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family and natives of South America, these pink berries grow in clusters on a tree known by many names: Brazilian pepper, Peruvian pepper, Peruvian mastic tree, Baies Rose, California pepper tree, American pepper tree, Florida Holly, Christmasberry, and peppercorn tree. Though there are two tree varieties that produce these berries, the berries themselves are quite similar.

Brazilian peppercornsThe Brazillian pepper tree, introduced into Florida in the 1800s and also known as Florida Holly and Christmasberry, is scientifically classified as Schinus terebinthifolius. The tree grows more like a tall shrub, up to 33 feet high, with broader, alternating leaves than its cousin, the Peruvian pepper tree and is considered an invasive pest. Peppercorns from this variety may owe its toxicity to its content of urushiol oil allergens and phenolic cardanol.

The Peruvian pepper tree, also called Peruvian mastic tree and Baies Rose, is classified schinus-mollescientifically as Shinus molle, and is commonly listed as the California pepper tree because it thrives so well in California’s hot climate with very little water. This variety grows quite tall, up to 40 feet, and resembles a weeping willow with elongated narrow leaves that cascade downward, giving a delicate lacy appearance. This variety is common in Southern California and other warm climates like Hawaii. Shinus molle is the variety of pepper tree that grows on the French island of Reunion. Much of the pink peppercorns that the U.S. imported came from this island. This variety may or may not contain urushiol oils.

The University of California lists Schinus terebinthifolius and Schinus molle as minor toxic garden plants that may cause illness like vomiting or diarrhea.

The bright pink berries have many names also: Christmas berries, rose berries, false pepper, pink peppercorns, pink pepperberries, pink berries, and rose baises.

A culinary delight with a dangerous edge
Innovative chefs are always searching for the next food ingredient to thrill the foodies who love a new trend. But they never considered the possibility that an unassuming ingredient like pink peppercorns could be a risky flavoring choice. Several years ago, pink peppercorns became the trendy gems of innovative chefs who would crush them and add them to gourmet dishes to add a sweet, peppery taste and appealing pink color. Bold chefs used them to garnish canapés, flavor ice cream, and add zest to chocolate.

A number of craft beer brewers suggest adding pink peppercorns in small quantities when brewing beer or ale to add a sweet, fruity quality, resulting in flavors similar to golden raisins, plums, or juniper berries. Sometimes brewers combine the pink peppercorns with other herbs or spices to appeal to those who appreciate unique beers. These fruity style beers are known as Saison or Lambic.

Peru 2Many ancient cultures actively brewed beer, but it was the Incas who recognized the flavor potential of adding pink peppercorns to their beer. Predating the Incas were the Wari tribe from southern Peru who used their native foods to brew beer–fermented corn and pink peppercorns.

The F.D.A. weighs in
Writing in The New York Times Home & Garden section, on March 31, 1982, Marian Burros reported the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) took action to halt imports of pink peppercorns from France because of concern they may cause serious toxic reactions. Under the food-additive amendment to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, it became illegal to import pink peppercorns. The law did not affect any supplies of pink peppercorns already in the U.S., and none were recalled because the F.D.A. declared it lacked financial means to issue a recall and did not consider them life-threatening.

A University of Michigan herbal consultant explained that pink peppercorns, Schinus terebinthifolius, are related to poison ivy and can cause the same unpleasant symptoms people Braz6experience when exposed: swollen eyelids, shortness of breath, violent headaches, chest pains, sore throat, hoarseness, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and upset stomach. Apparently, some birds that ingest the peppercorns can experience intoxication. After learning this information, the F.D.A. issued the following statement:

“While it is not known how many berries are required to cause adverse effects, experts advise against eating the pink or red peppercorns.”

The article mentions the French government’s claim that pink peppercorns grown on their soil under different conditions do not cause any of the troublesome reactions. The F.D.A. said they would maintain the ban until they were given proof by the French government that the imported peppercorns would not cause harm. “No one is able to tell us the exact ingredient that is causing the problem,” said F.D.A.s’ John Taylor III, Director of the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

Taylor recognized the berries from the trees grown in the U.S. and those grown on the Ile de Reunion, a French island near Madagascar, were the same species but may have different volatile oils that made the French berries problem-free.

The New York Times article said the F.D.A. proposed the French government send an affirmation that stated the pink peppercorns were “generally recognized as safe.” Until then, the ban would remain in place.

Wikipedia mentions the ban was lifted but does not provide a date or any statement from the F.D.A. Because it may be difficult to determine which variety of the pink berries are contained in seasoning mixtures, or whether variety matters, I would advise anyone with a nut allergy to avoid pink peppercorns completely.

References:
“422 A Rare Case of Food-induced Anaphylaxis to Pink Peppercorns.”
U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health from
The World Allergy Organization Journal Feb 2012; 5(Suppl 2) S152. Published online Feb. 17, 2012 at 10.1097/01.WOX.0000412185.17758.4f http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512604/

“Brazilian Pepper-tree, Schinus terebinthifolius.”
University of Florida IFAS Extension http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fw037

Burros, Marian. “F.D.A. AND FRENCH DISAGREE ON PINK PEPPERCORN’S EFFECTS.” New York Times. Home & Garden, March 31, 1982. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/31/garden/fda-and-french-disagree-on-pink-peppercorn-s-effects.html

“Is it okay to eat the pink pepper corns out of my yard?”
Fluther.com http://www.fluther.com/145572/is-it-okay-to-eat-the-pink-pepper-corns-out-of/

McIlroy, Anne. “Ancient empire built on beer.” November 15, 2005. Globe and Mail. Organissimo. http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/23318-ancient-empire-built-on-beer/

“Pink Peppercorns.” Clove Garden. http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/cw_pprpz.html

“Spice Guide Entry For: Pink Pepper (Shinus terebinthifolius).”
Celtnet Recipes http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/spice-entry.php?term=Pink%20Pepper

“Toxic Plants (by scientific name).”
University of California Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. http://ucanr.edu/sites/poisonous_safe_plants/Toxic_Plants_by_Scientific_Name_685/

“Tree Nut Allergies.” FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education.
About Food Allergies. http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/tree-nut-allergy

“What’s The Deal With Green, Black, White, and Pink Peppercorns?” the kitchn. http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-deal-with-green-blac-93231

“When to Use Your EpiPen Auto-Injector.” EpiPen. https://www.epipen.com/en/about-epipen/when-to-use-epipen?

“Pink peppercorn.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. February 2, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_peppercorn

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VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS ARRIVES WITH GOOD CHEER!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 17, 2012

My shiny new cookbook, Vegan for the Holidays: Celebration Feasts for Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, has formally arrived this month and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s a beauty!

After a few years of dabbling in a fun and deliriously wild exploration of holiday kitchen alchemy, I gathered up my multitude of little pieces of paper and tiny recipe notes and popped them into the oven.

And –would you believe–out popped this beautiful book of recipes for killer-delicious celebration dishes! Vegan for the Holidays makes Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day a divine season of grand feasting.

Vegans need never feel deprived and never have to resort to a mere salad while others at the Thanksgiving table chatter enthusiastically about the turkey. Now we can feast on awesome dishes like Savory Lentil Terrine with Mushroom-Wine Sauce or Pistachio and Sweet Pea Torte with Roasted Tomato Aioli.

Perhaps, the Thanksgiving Phyllo Pie will be the centerpiece dish at your family celebration.

Bask in the sweet paradise of Santa’s Favorite Panforte for Christmas or rich and savory Potato Latkes and Vegan Sour Cream for Hanukkah.

Dine on sumptuous servings of Mac ‘n’ cheese and Jamaican Jerk Tofu for Kwanzaa. Conclude the year with the dazzling, sweet and spicy Apricot, Date, and Hazelnut Sticky Pie on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

For a mini tour, take a little peek inside Vegan for the Holidays:

Vegan Holidays Peek copy

For more information and to order Vegan for the Holidays, visit my Vegetarians in Paradise page http://www.vegparadise.com/veganholidays.html

Here’s an easy holiday appetizer that puts yuletide spirit on a plate and unveils your hidden talent as a sculptor. Make it mildly spiced or crank it up to muy picante with extra jalapeno chiles and a pinch of cayenne. Just remember to thaw the peas, then you’ll be ready to let the food processor do the work.

JOLLY GREEN CHRISTMAS TREE

Dip
1 pound frozen peas, thawed
1 (150ounce) can cannelloni or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and coarsely chopped’1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powdfer
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch cayenne (optional)

Ornaments
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced’1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 green onion, white part only, sliced (optional)
1 whole star anise, or 6 whole cloves

1. Put the dip ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.

2. Spoon the mixture onto a large platter and use the back of a spoon to form the mixture into the shape of a large Christmas tree. Decorate the tree with the bell pepper, carrot, and the optional green onion. Place the star anise at the top or arrange the cloves into a radiating star. Serve with baked tortilla chips, bean ships, toasted pita wedges, or your favorite crackers.

Posted in Appetizers, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts, Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Peanut Butter & Banana Creamy Dreamy “Ice Cream”

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 2, 2012

I know I’m not alone when I find myself staring into the fruit bowl with the ripening half-bunch of bananas full of dark spots. Unless you’re the rare individual who consumes the entire bunch of bananas before they reach that point, you, too, have probably had many moments of staring at speckled bananas and thinking “Darn! Right now I don’t have the time to bake up a batch of muffins.”

My favorite remedy is to carpe diem and peel those softies. I then cut them into 1-inch long chunks, put them on a metal pie pan, and tuck them into the freezer. The banana chunks can go to sleep in the freezer for ages until you’re ready to put them to work.

If you’re still enjoying some pretty darned hot weather like I am in Los Angeles, you can whip up a delicious dessert that takes no advance prep. Gather up those bananas, some dates, peanut butter, lime juice, and vanilla extract and toss them into the food processor.

You’ll have to fiddle with the processor a bit, stopping, redistributing, and starting again several times, but the end result is pure nirvana for us peanut butter nuts.

CREAMY DREAMY PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA “ICE CREAM”

Yield: 4 servings

4 frozen bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 heaping tablespoons crunchy or creamy peanut butter
10 to 15 pitted dates
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepared vegan chocolate syrup (optional)

1. Combine all the ingredients, except the chocolate syrup, in a food processor. Pulse and process several times. Because it takes time to break down the frozen bananas, you’ll need to stop the machine several times and use a firm spatula to redistribute the ingredients.

2. Be persistent and within a few minutes, you’ll be able to process the mixture into a thick and creamy, ice-cream-like dessert that will feel refreshingly cold as it glides down your throat.

3. Spoon the mixture into 4 dessert dishes and top with the chocolate syrup, if desired.

Posted in Nut Desserts, Nut Recipes, peanuts, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Improving the Digestibility and Absorption of Nuts

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 27, 2012


I’m delighted to add this guest post by a person who knows nuts like few of us do. Jerry Henkin is a nut grower from New York. As a member of the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) he takes an active role as their librarian and works to build and maintain the organization’s holdings. Jerry is also Vice-President of the New York Nut Grower’s Association (NYNGA).

NNGA held their annual meeting where Jerry gave a presentation based on his well-researched article below. He was generous enough to allow me to share the article on the NutGourmet Blog. You can contact Jerry at sproutnut@aol.com

Nut Nutrition: Improving the Digestibility and Absorption of Nuts by Soaking
By Jerry Henkin, NYNGA Vice President
August, 20, 2012

As growers of nut trees, we seek to produce the best nuts we can grow for consumption by people. There is also an interest among farmers who raise livestock, especially sustainable agriculture and permaculture practitioners, in using nuts as forage for animals. All of us should know about the healthful qualities of nuts for our own well being. We should eagerly share this information with others when promoting nuts.

Since the inception of the Northern Nut Growers Association in 1910, only 1% of the articles in the Annual Report and The Nutshell magazine have dealt with the nutritional aspect of nuts. Though I am not a professional nutritionist, I have learned a great deal from studying scientific reports on nutrition that deal with nuts from NNGA literature and from the following organizations: The Food and Research Program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Loma Linda University; the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; the University of Scranton; Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute; Penn State University; the University of Missouri; and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. I wish to thank Dr. Barry Kendler, a Professor of Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, who has helped me organize my presentation on nut nutrition.

I want to tell you what I learned about the health benefits of nuts and then describe a simple technique to increase the nutritional value of nuts by soaking and drying them.

Nuts are highly nutritious

Raw nut kernels (without salt, and not roasted in fatty oils, or “honey roasted”) are excellent sources of fiber, proteins, and the`” good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). They contain an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Since each kind of nut has a different percentage of these healthful ingredients, it’s a good idea to eat a variety of nuts: pistachios, different species of walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, hickory nuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts. Acorns are edible, as well; those of you who attended last year’s meeting in Utah heard Howard Manning speak about the tradition of the Native Americans in California leaching acorns to remove the tannic acid. They then pound the nuts into a meal.

Nuts are concentrated energy foods. Mountain climbers, Arctic explorers, and average hikers carry a portable sack of nuts and dried fruits along with water. Captain Reid Stowe took in-shell hickory nuts on his record-breaking 1,000 day sea voyage. (I should know because I supplied them to him along with mung beans for sprouting.) While nuts are high in calories, just eating a handful – about 2 ounces, or roughly 1/4 cup – 5 days out of the week is sufficient to bring you the health benefits that nuts can offer. Nuts do need to be chewed thoroughly for their healthful properties to be used by the body. They should not be eaten after a heavy meal because that could lead to weight gain. Nor should a bowlful of kernels be left on the coffee table in front of the TV during the football season.

Lifestyle plays a role in health
Eating nuts is not a guarantee of good health: some of the other factors that come into play are our genetic inheritance; the amount of exercise we do; our lifestyle choices and stress level; and the negative factors like smoking and being overweight. But the scientific studies cited at the end of this article indicate the health benefits that can accrue from a regular diet of nuts: They strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, and protect the body from viral invasion and tumor growth. They can lower the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Moreover, eating nuts on a regular basis has been shown to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes. They can lower stress levels. Nuts also reduce the risk of high blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Walnuts and pecans, especially, which are high in antioxidants, reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Almonds and peanuts should be eaten with their skins because they, too, contain high levels of antioxidants. Nuts may even play a role in maintaining healthy sexual function in men.

Chestnuts have special health benefits
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts, are a significant source of Vitamin C. They are also rich in vitamin B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, and Niacin. Chestnuts have the highest percentage of carbohydrates which has given them the nickname, “the runner’s nut” because they increase the body’s ability to cope with stress. An article in the NNGA Annual Report in 1987, by G.P. Abide, describes how to make chestnut chips as a commercial product. Chestnut flour is another value-added product. Mr. Abide advises nut growers to “be in line with current consumer trends favoring healthful foods.” How much more true that advice is now than 25 years ago.

We need to advise our customers and friends who eat nuts to store them in the refrigerator, and not leave them out on the kitchen table with a cracker and a pick, as inviting as that might sound. Nuts in the shell maintain their flavor longest. Most nuts can be stored in the freezer for years.

Some words of caution about eating nuts: There may be insect larvae within the shell. Also, nut kernels may turn rancid after a period of time if improperly stored. The oils within the kernel will spoil, causing the kernels to look yellowish and waxy. So look at the nuts you’ve just cracked out of the shell for insect infestation; feel them and smell them for signs of rancidity. If you’re cracking out nuts instead of buying the nuts already shelled, make sure to eliminate all shell materials – black walnut fragments can crack a tooth; tiny shell pieces can lodge in between teeth.

Nut allergies can be serious

A very small percentage of the population of the United States is allergic to tree nuts and/or peanuts. Some people can die if they consume even minute quantities which might have been added as an ingredient to other food products. In 1964 George Borgstrom wrote an article in the Annual Report calling for nut breeders to develop cultivars that would eliminate the allergens that cause such severe reactions in some people. To my knowledge, no one has taken up this challenge. Please let the NNGA know if this breeding work has been done.

Nuts enhance the dining experience
Now for the delicious part: nuts enhance the flavor and texture in bland foods like chicken, cabbage, salad, green beans, vegetable soup, waffles, pancakes, and muffins. While vegetarian restaurants have long served simple dishes using nuts, elegant restaurants have recently been offering pistachio crusted salmon, hazelnut stroganoff, and chocolate-chestnut trifle. Nuts can be added to milkshakes and made into nut milks and nut butters. The Native Americans of Virginia pounded hickory nuts into a paste, soaked them in water, and then used the “cream” as a delicacy. They also fermented this mixture to make a liquor.

Nuts are a food staple
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a major contributor to nut research in the early 20th Century, pointed out that nuts have double the nutritive value of lean meat, pound for pound. Yet the land required to produce nuts kernels is half that required to raise livestock. Kellogg believed that nuts should be a food staple, and not just a snack. He used nuts extensively as meals to his patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. In an age of horrible practices in meat slaughterhouses and packing plants, Kellogg said in 1916 that “the nut is sweeter, cleaner, healthier, and cheaper than any possible source of animal product.”

Marion Nestle, a noted nutrition activist, has continued Kellogg’s vision of a world where people eat healthy food. She said that one in seven people on the Earth in 2012 is hungry. She feels that the global food crisis will continue in the U.S. and abroad in cost, volatility, and availability.

In her books, Nestle links malnutrition and hunger with social problems. One approach, she believes is to encourage food co-ops as an alternative to “Big Food” because they are community-based and value-based. Therefore, they must sell clean, healthy, nutritious food. Here is all the more reason, I believe, to plant and care for nut trees now, so that we will have a supply of one kind of healthy food in the future. J. Russell Smith was one of the most outspoken proponents of this idea, which he advocated in his book Tree Crops, A Permanent Agriculture.

Soaking nuts enhances their nutrition
I’m now going to describe a simple method to increase the nutritional value of nuts which everyone can do as long as they have access to clean water. Barbara Mendez, a licensed pharmacist and nutritional consultant, and Zel Allen, the author of several books on healthy eating, have both written articles on the health benefits of soaking nuts. The process calls for soaking raw nut kernels in water for several hours. The kernels should be the freshest you can find. The soaking period varies from 7 to 12 hours, depending upon the density of the kernel, but cashews should be soaked for no more than 6 hours.

After soaking the kernels, use a paper towel to pat them dry. Then, to return the kernels to their natural crispiness, dry them in one of several ways:

1. Roast them in the oven, or a counter-top toaster oven, at 150° to 170° F. for 15 to 20 minutes
2. Place them in a pan and let them dry over the pilot light of a stove for 12 to 24 hours, depending upon how long you have soaked the nuts
3. Use a food dehydrator set at 118° F. for about 7 hours.

During this period, the kernels increase their antioxidant and phytochemical capacity because soaking releases some enzyme inhibitors. This makes the nuts easier to digest. Tannins are removed from walnuts, making them taste sweeter. Soaking nut kernels also allows the body to absorb and use this food, instead of passing kernel pieces rapidly through the body. In effect, you are maximizing the nutritional value of your food when you follow this process. Note that this method reconstitutes nuts whose moisture levels have been previously reduced. They are therefore best eaten within two days.

After you’ve done this for a while, you’ll know the best soaking and drying times for nuts. Since each batch of nuts is different, don’t be afraid to experiment with the soaking and drying times to produce the healthiest and most delicious nuts you can.

List of Sources
Abide, G.P., et al., “Chestnut Chips: A Possible Option for Chestnut Processing”, NNGA (Northern Nut Growers Association) Annual Report 78:12 – 14, (1987)
Allen, Zel, The Nut Gourmet, Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion, Book Publishing Co, 256 pages, 2006, especially “Amazing Health benefits in a Nutshell”, pp. 16 – 19
Allen, Zel, “Nuts – the Delicious Path to Good Health”, The Nutshell, Volume 62, Number 3, September, 2008, p. 16
Allen, Zel, “To Soak or Not to Soak – It’s a Nutty Question”, MNGA (Michigan Nut Growers Association) News, Fall, 2011, pp. 7 – 8
Bixby, Willard G. [NNGA President], “Resolution Adopted by the NNGA, Inc.”, September 14, 1929, NNGA Annual Report 20:158 – 159 (1929)
http://bodyecology.com/articles/how_to_eat_and_not_eat_almonds.php, “How to Eat and Not Eat Almonds”, November 9, 2006
Borgstrom, George, “Nuts in Human Food – A Critical Appraisal”, NNGA Annual Report 55:60 – 64 (1964)
Cajorie, F.A., “The Nutritive Value of Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 10:80 – 87 (1919)
Cao (Tsao), Roon, “Nutritional Data from Heartnuts”, NNGA Annual Report 98 (2007)
Chen, C.Y. and Blumberg, J.B., “Phytochemical Composition of Nuts”, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008:17 Supplement 1:329 – 332
Chestnut, V.K., “Primitive Manufacture and Use of Acorn Meal”, NNGA Annual Report 8:43 – 45 (1917)
Downs, Albert A., “Trees and Food from Acorns”, NNGA Annual Report 40:177 – 179 (1949)
Greiner, Lois, “Marketing Naturally Nutritious Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 77:10 – 12 (1986)
Higdon, Jane (2005), [update, Drake, Victoria J., 2009], “Nuts”, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, 2012
International Nut Tree Council, “Go Nuts Go Healthy”, 11 pages, 2001
Kellogg, J.H., “Advent of Nuts into the Nation’s List of Staple Foods”, NNGA Annual Report 8:46 – 58 (1917)
Kellogg, J.H., “The Food Value of Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 7:101 – 113 (1916)
Kellogg, J.H., “More Nuts, Less Meat”, NNGA Annual Report 21:57 – 65 (1930)
Kellogg, J.H., “Nuts Need as Supplementary Foods”, NNGA Annual Report 11:83 – 92 (1920)
Kendall, C.W., et al., “Nuts, Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes”, British Journal of Nutrition, 2010 August; 104(4)
Kendler, Barry S., “The American Diet and the Need for Dietary Supplementation”, Nutritional Perspectives: Journal of the Council on Nutrition of the American Chiropractic Association, October 2010
King, J.C, et al, “Tree Nuts and Peanuts as Components of a Healthy Diet”, Journal of Nutrition , 2008 September; 138(9):1736S-1740S
Li, L, et al. “Fatty Acid Profiles, Tocopherol Contents, and Antioxidant Activities of Heartnut (Juglans ailanifolia Var. cordiformis) and Persian Walnut (Juglans regia L.), Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 2007 Februray 21:55(4)
Lombardini, Leonardo, “Phytochemicals and Antioxidants in Pecan”, NNGA Annual Report 99 (2008)
Lovell, John D. and Norton, Julia A., “Food and Horticultural Psychology in Relation to Nut Growing”, NNGA Annual Report 74:119 – 123 (1983)
Malinsky, Alex (aka RawGuru), “ ’C’ is for Chestnut and Vitamin C”, Natural News.com, January 26, 2011
Mendez, Barbara, “Soaking Nuts and Seeds for Maximum Nutrition”, The Nutshell, Volume 66, Number 2, June 2012, pp. 12 – 13
Moree, Shiro, “Health, Nutrition, and Nuts: In a Nutshell”, The Nutshell, Volume 61, Number 1, March, 2007, pp. 24 – 28
Nut Gourmet Blog, May 11, 2011, “Go Nuts Over Antioxidants”, MNGA (Michigan Nut Growers Association) News, Summer, 2011, pp. 11 – 16
Skylles, J. Trevor, “The Nut Crops of Turkey”, NNGA Annual Report 62:70 – 76 (1971)
Smith, J. Russell, Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture, The Devin Adair Co., 1953, especially Chapter XV, “Nuts as Human Food”, pp. 202 – 205
Spaccarotella, K.J., et al., “The Effect of Walnut ntake on Factors Relating to Prostate and Vascular Health in Older Men”, Nutrition Journal, 2008 May 2:7:13
Stafford, W.E., “Use of Nuts by the Aboriginal Americans”, NNGA Annual Report, 14:57 – 59 (1923)
Talbert, T.J., “Nut Tree Culture in Missouri”, NNGA Annual Report 41:134 – 135 (1950)
University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, “Nuts to You”, The Nutshell, Volume 51, Number 2, June, 1997, pp. 1 – 2
Villarreal J.E., L. Lombardini, and L. Cisneros-Zevallos,” Phytochemical Constituents and Antioxidant Capacity of Different Pecan [Carya illinonensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] Cultivars”, Food Chem. 102:1241-1249, 2007
Vinson, J.A. and Cai, Y., “Nuts, Especially Walnuts, Have Both Antioxidant Quantity and Efficacy and Exhibit Significant Potential Health Benefits”, Food Function, 2012 February 3; 3(2)
Young, Robert O., “Eating Nuts May Prevent Cancerous Lungs and Prostate”, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston, Texas, December 6 -, 2009; reference: http://ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=23047

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, chestnuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Allergies, Nut Growing, Nut History, Nut Nutrition, Nut Organizations, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, peanuts, pecans, Uncategorized, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

4 NO-FAIL NUTTY PIE CRUST RECIPES

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 11, 2012

Pie making was always something I feared and completely avoided because I was frightfully intimidated by the finicky nature of traditional flaky pie crust. Getting it right takes some skill and perseverance. Whenever I did venture into pie-crust territory, I could never got it right. The crust was either too wet or too dry to roll properly and the finished pie never looked like it ought to. Quite honestly, I was a pie crust flunk-out and my pies were a flop. My pie crust self-esteem was so low I didn’t touch a pie recipe for years.

Going vegan opened up a whole new world of ingredients and inspired me to use those items inventively.

The solution to overcoming pie phobia was to focus on my new, UN-traditional pantry and experiment with different ingredients that could hold a pie together without the fuss and fear of failure. These recipes work every time. If I can make a successful pie crust, so can you.

The following pie crust recipes are for pies that require only a bottom crust. The complete pie recipes can be found in my just-released cookbook Vegan for the Holidays available on Amazon and at Vegetarians in Paradise.

Dessert lovers can never have too many desserts!
If you’ve made extra desserts for your holiday celebrations, I have no doubt you’ll be happy to store the leftovers and feast again next day. As you probably know, second time around is always better and gives you something sweet, spicy, and holiday-perfect to look forward to.

Here are four unique pie crust recipes–3 are ideal for dessert pies–1 recipe forms the base of a savory, dinner pie.

OATMEAL CRUMB CRUST

This very quick prep featuring walnuts belongs to two tantalizing recipes: Williamsburg Pumpkin Pie and Apples ‘n’ Cream Pie. Both these dessert pies bring the Thanksgiving meal to a delicious and satisfying conclusion. They look appetizing and taste so good you just might want a second helping.

Makes 1 (9 or 10-inch) pie crust

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup walnuts
4 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons organic sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Pour the oats into a food processor. Pulse 12 to 15 times. Add the walnuts, oil, sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Process until the mixture is a fine, crumbly meal and holds together when pinched. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water to help it hold together.
2. Spoon the mixture into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Press on the edges to firm. Add your pie filling and bake.

FLAXSEED PIE CRUST

This simple recipe forms the crust of the Easy Pumpkin Tofu Cheesecake in the dessert section of the Thanksgiving menu. The recipe requires no high-tech culinary skills–only your fingers to press it into the pie pan.

Makes 1 9-inch pie crust or fills the base of a 9-inch springform pan

1/2 cup whole almonds
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil

1. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they form a coarse meal. Add the flour, ground flaxseeds, brown sugar, and salt and process until thoroughly mixed. Add the water and canola oil and process until the mixture becomes a moist, soft dough. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
2. Spoon the crust mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers to press it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If using a springform pan, press the mixture into the bottom and only 1-inch up the sides. Add the filling and bake.

SWEET POTATO NUT CRUST

Makes 1 9-inch pie crust

This very unique crust belongs to a scrumptious, Italian-inspired, savory main dish. Tomato-Pine Nut Pie makes a delicious entrée on the Christmas menu of Vegan for the Holidays. It’s melt-in-the-mouth delicious and decked out with plenty of holiday spirit.

12 ounces sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups whole almonds
2/3 cup well-mashed firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly oil a 9-inch pie pan.
2. Put the sweet potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes well, transfer them to a large bowl and mash them well. Set aside.
3. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground yet still retain a little texture. Add the tofu and salt and process until well incorporated. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Spoon the tofu mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix well.
4. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to press it onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Build up the sides of the crust 1/2 inch higher than the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and let cool.

CRANBERRY ALMOND CRUST

Makes 1 (9-inch) crust

This crust recipe is super-easy and belongs to the tangy, deliciously crunchy base of the NO-BAKE Cinnamon-Peanut Butter Torte, an awesome dessert you can prepare in a springform pan two or three days in advance and freeze. Ten minutes before serving, transfer the pan to a platter, and remove the springform collar. Garnish, cut into wedges, and enjoy the compliments. You’ll find the complete recipe for each of these enticing pies in Vegan for the Holidays.

1 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
4 to 5 tablespoons water

1. Cover the base of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of parchment paper 2 inches larger. Snap the collar back onto the base, and cut away the excess parchment with scissors. Lightly oil the sides of the pan and set aside.
2. Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they become a coarse, slightly chunky meal.
3. Add the cranberries and water and process until the cranberries are broken down into tiny bits and the mixture holds together when gently pressed. Stop occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too dry to hold together. Spoon the crust mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and press the mixture firmly with the back of a spoon to distribute it evenly. Add the filling and freeze until ready to serve.

Posted in almonds, Appetizers, Main Dishes, Nut Recipes, Salads and Salad Dressings, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts, Vegan for the Holidays, Vegan Websites, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WOW! JUST DISCOVERED . . .

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 25, 2012

Until now I have only shared my own original recipes and nut-focused how-tos, along with a host of nut-filled posts from health-oriented nut studies to occasional forays into a touch of silliness.

My resolution for this New Year is to travel beyond the boundaries of nuts and share, explore, and discover websites that post magnificent vegan recipes and food creations deserving of praise and recognition.

I won’t abandon my beloved nuts—I do love them so! And I’ll also share recipes and tidbits from my new cookbook that will be coming out in a few months. The new book, with the working title Gone Vegan for the Holidays, is a bounty of delicious recipes that will make holidays at the vegan table very very special. Book Publishing Company is the publisher.

One exceptional, must-see webhttp://veganmenu.blogspot.com What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway? Drop by for a browse and you’ll quickly find yourself salivating over some of the most innovative and tantalizing vegan dishes you could ever desire.

These creative home chefs have taken vegan cuisine to an artful level and given their readers a ton of visual feasts with enticing food styling. They employ an awesome variety of Mother Nature’s treasures with passion and have mastered the art of stretching the mind with their creations.

Enjoy the charming photographic displays at this website. It’s like treating yourself to a fun day of window shopping.

Posted in Uncategorized, Vegan Blogs and Websites, Vegan Websites | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

SCIENCE EXPLAINS THE CASHEW AND MANGO DILEMMA

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 22, 2012

Within a few hours after I posted my family’s experience with allergic rashes from consuming mangoes and cashews, I received the comment below. It’s so well explained in scientific terms I thought it important to share in a post rather than a comment.

The information comes from Sandra J. Baker, author of The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide.

Thank you so much Sandra. Your information explains the science behind my husband’s and two sons’ itchy rashes after eating mangoes and cashews. Hopefully, this post and the previous one will benefit others who suffer the misery of itchy skin rashes and haven’t discovered the cause.

Sandra writes:
I can add to your quest for information. Mango, cashew and poison oak, ivy and sumac are all in the family Anacardiaceae. Then poison oak, ivy and sumac join the genus Toxicodendron which contains the allergenic oil urushiol in its resin. But, mango and cashew also have allergenic oils. Mango has resorcinol, and cashew has anacardiol and cardol. All of these allergenic oils have enough similarity that if you are allergic to one, you are probably allergic to the others.

Mangos’ allergenic oil is mostly in the resin canals in the skin (always peel first before eating), and is thought to be somewhat weaker than poison oak/ivys’ oil. Some people are extremely allergic to it, but a mango grower said his workers usually don’t get much of a rash at the beginning of working with the plants. After a while, the sensitivity usually goes away. The oil can migrate from the skin into the flesh, so it is a good idea to stay away from all mango products, even juice if you know you are allergic.

All cashews imported into the US (even those labeled raw) are shelled and cooked a bit beforehand, because that will destroy the allergenic potential of the cashew nut shell oil that is between the honeycombed layers of the shell. (the oil of the cashew itself is harmless). (Poison oak/ivy and sumac oil is highly resistant to heat by the way.

Very seldom, cashews are accidentally imported without being cooked, and may have been contaminated from the shell cracking procedure, Rashes have been documented. This is a much smaller problem than that of mango rashes.

Posted in cashews, Nut Allergies, nut research, Nuts and Health, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

CHESTNUTS ARE BACK AND SO AM I!!!!!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 21, 2011

The chestnut harvest is in and ready for cookin’! I’ve just placed my order and will probably be cooking and peeling a heap of the beauties when they arrive in about a week.

This year I ordered from Girolami Farms and Correia Farms but an abundance of the sweet nuts can also be found at Allen Creek Farms, Croft Chestnuts, Washington Chestnut Company, Chestnut Growers, Inc., and Delamarvelous Chestnuts. Don’t wait too long to order. Many of the farms sell out by mid November, though some will have chestnuts through January.

Honestly, I’m not getting a commission for touting the chestnut growers. I’m just very passionate about chestnuts and hope to see more people cooking and enjoying their naturally sweet flavor and delightful soft and creamy texture.

The neat thing is if you’re not inclined to cooking and peeling chestnuts, you can buy them already cooked and peeled. It doesn’t get better than that!

Today, I’m welcoming myself back to fun and utterly delicious nutty blogging. I’ve been absent for good reason. I just turned in the manuscript for my new cookbook. Yea!!!! And Whew!!!!!

While the new book will still have a banquet of nut recipes, it places the focus on killer-delicious vegan recipes for the holidays—from Thanksgiving through the New Year. During the year and especially during this coming holiday season, I’ll be sharing some of the nuttier delicacies from Gone Vegan for the Holidays, starting today.

A year ago I was puttering in the kitchen with my freshly cooked chestnuts and came up with a seductively delicious meal starter I call Tijuana Chestnut Cocktail. No, this cocktail is not a beverage like its name suggests. Instead, it was my effort to create a vegan version of shrimp cocktail—only much tastier with the addition of chestnuts that contribute more complex flavor.

It looks really elegant and is amazingly easy to assemble. The photo says it all.

Initially, I created this recipe to spotlight chestnuts, then replaced them with tofu for its ease of preparation. Either way, it’s a delicious starter. For an exceptional presentation, serve the cocktail in long-stemmed wine glasses or champagne flutes. Put each glass on a dish with a doily underneath and garnish with a slice of fresh lime on the rim. Make the cocktail a day ahead, chill it, and it’s ready to serve.

TIJUANA CHESTNUT COCKTAIL

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled and chopped chestnuts, or cubed firm tofu
1 large avocado, diced
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Combine the diced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tofu, avocado, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to distribute evenly. Serve immediately, or chill and serve later.

2. When ready to serve, spoon the cocktail into long-stemmed wine glasses, old-fashion glasses, or glass dessert bowls and garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime. Serve with spoons.

Posted in chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Companies, Nut Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHO’S GOT THE BEST BALLS?

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on May 10, 2010

Chef AJ held her 4th Ball-Off Contest on the evening of May 1, 2010, engaging her cooking class students in a wild and raucous competition to see who would win the two top prizes for having the best balls (confections). It was the destiny of six fortunate and discriminating judges to taste 19 amazing entries and arrive at a consensus to choose only the top two winners who would wear the royal crown until the next Ball-Off.

The challenge the students were given involved creating a confection approximately 1-inch in diameter that included only natural, healthful ingredients. The only restrictions were the balls could not contain any animal products, refined, processed ingredients, oils, or refined sugar.

Judges devour balls
I was among the lucky six on the judging panel, whose task it was to award the two top prizes. Judging was based on three factors: creativity, taste, and appearance. It probably sounds like a snap, but can you imagine cramming in 19 confections in approximately one hour and retaining one’s sanity? Assessing that many balls for extraordinary qualities is a challenge for anyone, even the judges who each have discerning palates and years of experience in the food arena.

While some were easy rejections because they lacked desirable taste, others were shunned because they were so mushy it was nearly impossible to pick them up. However, the six-judge panel formed a team of stouthearted souls who persevered until the last morsel was consumed.

In addition to the contestants and judges, there were several others who came to cheer on the winners or console the friends or spouses who put forth a grand effort. It was a lively bunch contributing to the scene with plenty of shout outs and no shortage of humor.

Finally, the judges decision gave the 1st place award to the very deserving Michelle Wolf, a creative and conscientious home chef who submitted her Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles, a truly inspired creation with a surprise in the middle. Brenda Cohen took second prize for her Almond Overjoy Balls whose almond-rich chocolate confections made the judges ecstatic.

Following are the two winning recipes and Michelle’s inspiration for her entry:

Background Story:
At the age of sixteen, I had the unique opportunity to take a student trip to Europe. While the museums and architecture were feasts for the eyes, the cuisine was a feast for the taste buds. During our stay in Rome, my friends and I discovered a new love, named gelato, and proceeded to dine on this rich Italian ice cream six times per day! One of my favorite flavors was Gianduia (pronounced: zhahn-DOO-yuh) which was a blend of chocolate and hazelnut. The memory of this delicious flavor was my inspiration for the “Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduia Truffles” that I created for Chef AJ’s  Ball-off competition.

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT GIANDUIA TRUFFLES
(Pronunciation: zhahn-DOO-yuh)

Two great tastes, that taste great together!

Recipe by Michelle Wolf Consulting Taster: Husband, Alan Raz

Yield: 25 truffles

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups raw hazelnuts, divided
18 (or more for added sweetness) Deglet Noor pitted dates soaked overnight in unsweetened chocolate almond milk.
2 Tablespoons Ultimate brand Raw Cacao Powder (for dark chocolate flavor)
Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract (optional)
Alcohol-free Almond Extract (optional)

Directions:
1. Place 1/2 cup of hazelnuts into the food processor and process until ground into coarse powder. Place into a bowl and set aside. (To be used later to coat the outside of the truffles.)
2. Place remaining 1 cup of hazelnuts into the food processor and process until ground into coarse powder.
3. Add cacao powder and the soaked dates (without excess soaking liquid). To enhance the subtle flavor blend, you can try adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. Process until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
4. Remove by rounded teaspoon and place a whole hazelnut into the center of the chocolate nut mixture. Roll in palm of hands to form small round balls approximately 1-inch in diameter. (To avoid sticking, slightly wet palms of hands before rolling each ball.)
5. Roll each ball in bowl of ground hazelnuts until outside is even coated.
6. Place into container and store in freezer until ready to serve.

Definition: Gianduia is the name given to a European style of chocolate made from chocolate and nut paste. Hazelnut paste is most common, but gianduia can also be made with almond paste. It comes in milk or dark chocolate varieties. Alternate Spelling: Gianduja

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ALMOND OVERJOY BALLS

By Brenda Cohen

Yield: 35 one-inch balls

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
2 cups pitted deglet noor dates
1/4 cup raw shredded coconut (macaroon cut)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or to taste)

Equal parts cacao and shredded coconut for rolling

PREPARATION:
1. In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, process the almonds until they are almost nut butter consistency. Add cacao powder and process again until fully incorporated.
2. Add dates and process again until mixture almost comes together. Add coconut and process again until thoroughly combined.
3. Add raisins and extracts until the mixture will stick together and form a ball if rolled (clumped) in your hand. Roll into balls, and then roll in cacao and coconut mixture. Enjoy!

Posted in almonds, hazelnuts, Nut Desserts, Nut Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »