October is showcase time for food. It’s cheese month and the hunt for the best New Zealand sausage is on. World Egg Day falls on October 13, and the 22nd is our National Nut Day.
An important part of our diet, nuts are used in so many ways that we almost take them for granted. They add crunch and flavour to salads, ragouts, cakes and cookies. Nuts are popular with pre-dinner drinks and add interest to lunchboxes.
Nuts are nutritious. Health professionals maintain that a 30-gram serving of nuts, five to seven times a week, can lower the risk of developing heart disease. They are protein rich and a handful is a great way to avoid that mid-afternoon slump. Nuts are high in calcium and the B vitamins and a good source of vitamin E and magnesium. They have anti-inflammatory properties but they also contain a reasonable level of fat and, therefore, kilojoules — up to 80 per cent of a nut is fat. For this reason they should be consumed in moderation.
Fortunately, as nuts are of plant origin, they contain no cholesterol and plenty of essential fatty acids. Shelled nuts should be refrigerated and tightly covered for up to six months. They can be frozen for up to a year.
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To skin hazelnuts, place in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 1-2 minutes then shake in a sieve until the skins fall off. Or, wrap in a clean tea towel and rub hard. Hazelnuts are sometimes called filberts or cobs in the USA and England. Get the recipe
Nutty black bean dip
If black beans with chilli are unavailable add a little chilli paste to the mixture. Get the recipe
Orange walnut cake
Light and luscious, this cake is delicious served 'as is' or with whipped cream or yoghurt. Get the recipe