One of my fondest memories of the holiday season is bowls, jars, bags, and even bottoms of stockings filled with nuts–of all shapes, sizes, hues…and degrees of difficulty to open! Whether it be the smooth, round umber of chestnuts, or the oblong tan of almonds, or the football-like pecan, December was always a nutty month to say the least (sorry, I could not resist).
Nowadays, as a strict vegan, I rely even more on nuts (which are, technically speaking, really just seeds but special in being encased in a hard outer shell) for many of my essential nutrients. And lots of research in recent years has revealed just how nutritious nuts (and seeds) are for us.
For example, the Mayo Clinic has a great site extolling the delicious, nutritious nut. Although many so-called health experts and fad diets pooh-poohed fat in any and every form, we know now that the health fats in nuts can help to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. That helps to reduce the risks of heart disease and heart attacks. In addition, nuts are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants.
So, now that you can feel good about cracking, shelling, peeling, and munching the many nuts you find during the holidays, you might be wondering what else you can do besides carry a nutcracker around with you and nibble them like a squirrel.
Nut Recipes and Ideas for the Holidays
Luckily, there are some scrumptious vegan ways to liven up the nuts and make special treats for the holidays–without causing needless suffering to animals in the process. Here are some great recipes and resources for cool ways to go nuts about nuts:
- For more nutty ideas than you can handle in one holiday, check out The Nut Gourmet, a book of plant-based recipes featuring nuts.
- One of my favorite desserts, and so easy to prepare, are coconut date rolls. You can find recipes for those and other nut-date goodies at ChooseVeg.com, About.com, or (even more exotic) Suite101.com.
- You can even make some great smoothies featuring nuts, including chocolate smoothies (since, botanically, chocolate actually comes from cacao seeds…just like coffee is a seed of the coffee tree’s fruit).
- A nice nut “candy” idea is Vegan Cinnamon Fireside Walnuts.
- A recent exciting addition to our cookbook shelf is Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson.
- Of course, I am a bit of a simpleton, so I love some plain old nuts with raisins or other dried fruits.
The holiday season is a time of joy…and, as I am sure we all can agree, also a time that makes you a little nuts. That makes it one of the best times to celebrate with healthy, cruelty-free recipes that put those many nuts to good use!
As for the humans that drive you nuts, you will have to find your own (hopefully cruelty-free) ways to deal with them…
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Stuck on stocking stuffers? We’ve got lots of green suggestions, from organic nuts and dried fruit to hemp wallets to Fair Trade earrings.
Want more ideas for meatless meals? Check out these vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Image credit: Axpd, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.