mixed nuts

Nut basics

Nuts are by far the easiest and quickest way to get some nutrition and protein into a vegan diet. They are certainly healthy and there are enough varieties of different nut flavors that will suit anyone! Besides just tossing them onto salads, into stir-fries or eating as trail mix, nuts can also be made into nut milk, used for creamy dressings and ground and used as flour. Being extremely versatile and nutritious it is definitely a staple to have around the house!

walnut 1Storing nuts can be tricky. Nuts have a high fat content and can become rancid if exposed to high temperatures or humidity. It is best to keep them in a dry, cool place. Raw, un-shelled nuts keep best, usually lasting around 6-12 months. If keeping shelled nuts, it is recommended to keep them in an airtight container helping them to last about 3-4 months. If frozen and wrapped correctly, they can last up to a year.

Toasting nuts is another way to enjoy the same nut with a different flavor. For harder nuts, this usually helps them to soften a bit. It will also deepen the flavor. It is usually a good idea to find out first the length of time need for the particular nut you’re roasting as some take longer than others and you can risk burning the ones that need less time.

latte-di-mandorle 2Making nut milks is very easy and takes very little time. For almond milk add 4 parts water to one part almonds. Putting it into the blender, let it mix until the nuts are finely chopped. You can also use almond powder directly. If using raw almonds, just make sure to strain the milk afterwards to remove any chunks. Of course, the chunks can be used on top of salads or in a creamy coconut milk potato casserole 🙂

Cheeses can be made using nuts. Cashews and almonds work excellent. They are rich and delicious tasting and add a more heavy, real cheese effect to the foods. Vegan “ricotta” can be made in a few minutes. Other cheeses may take a day or 2 of preparation time. For example, almond nut cheese may require that the almonds soak in water overnight, then are peeled, then sit again for a day to get all the excess water out and then can be used to make the cheese. It all depends if you are going for a hard or soft cheese.

Nuts make excellent sauces. Pine nuts, for example, can be used to make a very delicious vegan basil pesto sauce! Walnuts also work great. Once ground and mixed with a bit of water and spices/seasonings, it can be poured on top of rice, pasta, potatoes, carrots or anything else where you want a creamy white sauce. For thickening, just add a bit more walnut flour or wheat/gluten free flour. Pasta alfredo is one such dish using a creamy sauce that can be made with virtually any type of nut!

vegan banana nut bread 1Breads and sweets are other places you can throw them in. Banana bread, for example, would not be complete without a handful of walnuts. And pecan pie is a classic. Ground nuts, such as peanuts and almonds, can also be ground with dates/raisins, to make a nice raw vegan pie crust. Or, simply grind together, add some almond butter and you have a quick, easy vegan snack.

And of course, nut butters are famous. Cashew, almond, peanut, hazelnut….all so rich and velvety tasting. Spread onto breads, celery, fruit or crackers for an ultra quick, ultra healthy daytime power snack. Or just eat it directly out of the jar, like I do sometimes.

In any case, a must in the vegan kitchen, nuts can be used in so many different ways possibilities are virtually endless!


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