Thursday, 5 August 2010

Going Nuts

I’ve often written about my list of proteins that I use to plan meals.  It occurred to me the other day when I saw someone eating nuts at the pub that we don’t eat nuts much, except for when I occasionally buy them for snacks. It’s a guilty pleasure as they are quite fattening, but nuts and seeds are good for you.  The person I saw eating them could use the calories, but we have plenty already, thank you.   I was thinking that nuts counted as protein, but wasn’t sure so I did a bit of Googling to learn more.

The first thing I ran across was this article from the New York Times and that was enough to make me add nuts to my protein schedule, which now looks like this:
Beans poultry fish beans cheese 

fish meat none fish eggs 

lentils combination fish nuts

(The other change I made was to specify lentils for one of the bean nights, as I never think to use them, but we have an ample supply).

I had a packet of roasted nuts to use up and so I used to find this recipe for "Hot Peanut Sauce".

4 tablespoons peanut butter 
4 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Don't you know I ended up doing some substitution?  I had two jars of crunchy peanut butter in the cabinet and was surprised to find they were both nearly empty. Over the last months which ever one I happened to pick up and find in low supply, I'd always assumed the other was full.  Obviously a disadvantage to having two jars in use!  Even with softening the contents in the microwave, I could only get 2 TBSP out of them. Looking at the label and seeing that the main ingredient was sunflower oil, I took a hammer to the packet of roasted peanuts to crush them and added those along with 2 TBSP of sunflower oil. I finished off the soy sauce bottle after only 1.5 TBSP, and on a whim topped it up with ½ TBSP of Worcestershire sauce. 

Hot water, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and brown sugar I could manage. It all seemed such a strange combination that I dreaded taking that first taste, but I wasn’t about to put it on the table without knowing it was palatable. I was pleasantly surprised.

The peanut sauce was really nice over some leftover pasta that I’d cooked with shredded cauliflower (it was on sale and Bill bought two heads, which I found a bit overwhelming).   I steamed some carrots and frozen peas for more colour on the plate. We had strawberry ice cream for dessert, left over from what I bought to take to the sewing group when it was my turn to bring sweets (I also made spice cake muffins and the world’s ugliest angel food cake for them, but it tasted OK). 

The more we ate the peanut sauce, the more we were impressed by it, so exploring nut sauce recipes is definitely going to be part of my cooking adventures for a while.   For me, being adventurous is what making cooking dinner much less tedious and far more fun!

Do you often cook with nuts or seeds?


Jo said...

Nuts go in my lettuce salads, apple pie, and some other salads that I make. They add a nice flavor and crunch.

Struggler said...

I love nuts but, a bit like you, view them as rather a guilty pleasure. Beloved Husband isn't fond of them, so no, they don't really feature much in our meals.

Rick Stone said...

Can't say I cook with nuts because I don't cook. I do like nuts. My favorite is almonds surrounded by lots of chocolate ice cream.

Shelley said...

Jo - Nuts in salads is a great idea, like waldorf salad and the like. Does Rick actually eat lettuce??

Jo said...

Rick eats whatever is put in front of him now that he has trained me to fix what he will eat. He does like salads and even orders them when we are out.

Rick Stone said...

Actually, I really enjoy a good salad. The best salads will have, in addition to lettuce, shredded carrots, hard boiled eggs, shredded cheese, maybe some bits of ham. Nuts of some kind a a nice touch. I do ask that they leave any tomato's off. They are also great with fried chicken strips on them. All that totally covered in honey mustard dressing.

Boywilli said...

Perhaps I should change my medication. I find myself agreeing with Rick again. That sounds like a wonderful salad. Its the fried chicken and honey mustard dressing that does it I think