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Do you know the best uses and benefits of nuts in the kitchen? By now, most of us have figured out that nuts make a pretty awesome healthy snack. What’s a good old fashioned road trip or hike without a trail mix? Nuts are bite-sized, convenient and nutrient-dense. Then there’s the fact that they’re also delicious!
The challenge with using nuts in the kitchen is understanding where their unique flavors best suit what kind of dishes and being open to all the awesome ways you can sneak a few into different meals. They add great texture to salads, can be blended and processed into all sorts of dips and sauces, and make wonderful additions to baked treats.
A Note About Activating Nuts
Before jumping into the individual uses for each kind of nut, take note, that if you’re looking to get the most of them nutrient-wise, you’ll want to consider activating them. That is, if you have the time and patience! Nuts naturally contain phytic acid which binds to certain nutrients, like zinc, iron, and magnesium. When you soak and activate nuts, this reduces the phytic acid and helps make other nutrients within the nut more bioavilable. It’s a win-win.
The only challenge with soaking and activating nuts is that it takes time and you need to go to the added effort of dehydrating the nuts for storage purposes. For those of you who struggle even to wash to the dishes, you may want to consider simply buying pre-activated nuts.
Probably the most versatile of all nuts, and by far the most readily available and popular, the humble almond is a pantry must.
High in vitamin E and magnesium, they add a great nutritional dose to your daily diet.
Almonds are affordable and perfect for making all sorts of raw and baked treats. For this reason, they also make one of the more affordable dairy-free milk alternatives and gluten-free flours. They’re also a popular choice for making your own nut butter – almond butter is always a favorite!
If you want to try out some recipes using almonds, grab a bag of WO raw almonds and head to the kitchen to make some Superfood Healthy Popcorn Bars, Chunky Coconut Granola or Homemade Almond Joy Bars for easy snacks the whole family will love.
Walnuts are great brain-food, full of essential omega fatty acids. You can lightly candy them with honey and bake for a sweet topping to any baked treat. Crush them up for a crunchy addition to a salad. And last but not least, they are absolutely a match-made in heaven with anything pumpkin related!
Brazil nuts are an easy way to get an added boost of selenium into your diet. Just 2 brazil nuts a day will provide you with your daily selenium intake needs. Because of their nutrient and calorie density, it’s best to use them sparingly (they’re also a lot more expensive!). This makes them perfect for serving as a simple snack on their own. As they are high in omega-3s, they’re also best eaten raw in order to preserve the fatty acids.
While technically a legume, we’ll let the cashew slip into the nutty party. They are perfect for making creamy, dairy-free cheeses and sauces. Popular among the vegan crowd, you’ll find no shortage of recipes for raw cashew treats and cheesecakes, like this No-Bake Matcha Cheesecake.
They also make a great base for many curry sauces. All you need to do is soak the cashews in some water for a couple hours and blitz up in a blender or food processor.
High in manganese and with plenty of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, you’ll find pecans to be a delicious addition to your kitchen pantry.
Don’t feel like you’re restricted by only pecan pie (though thisNaturally Sweetened Pecan Pie is amazing!). There’s a whole world of pecan recipes out there. Think candied pecans, toppings on oatmeal, mixed in with granola, and used to garnish salads.
Who can pass up a classic hazelnut spread? Not me. Combined with cacao, you have the most delicious combination for all kinds of baked treats. Think cakes, slices, cookies and pies. Absolutely heaven!
Hazelnuts are also perfect for roasting and topping on salads. They pair surprisingly well with citrus flavors like orange and grapefruit.
A rare treat for most, pistachios seem to be reserved specifically for the festive season. Few things speak clearer to the festive spirit than a pistachio and cranberry stuffed turkey.
To recreate a similar flavor and feeling, without the effort of roasting a whole turkey, try making these No-bake White Christmas Treats.
These creamy bite-sized delights are by far, a popular favorite for many. They are, however, extremely expensive per pound compared to many of the other nuts and for this reason, are typically used sparingly in the kitchen. That is, unless, if you have the cash to splash. Then by all means, go nuts! Macadamias are well worth the money.
They have the most favorable omega-3 ratio if you’re concerned about consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids from nuts. They pair well with chocolate, coconut and dried fruits like goji berries. In fact, that combination of all four is like heaven in a mouthful! You will also find macadamia oil to be a wonderful dressing for salads for an added nutty flavor.