Archive for August, 2010

Nuts about Nuts

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

One of my favorite greetings cards, courtesy of Barbara, depicts a distraught-looking squirrel lying on a therapist’s couch. The caption reads: “When I learned that you are what you eat, I realized I was nuts.” If that’s so, I wondered what the implications were given that nuts have become one of my favorite salad components.

It wasn’t so long ago that the only things that crunched in salads were the iceberg lettuce leaves and the cucumber slices, maybe some carrot or celery chunks (which I never thought quite belonged there). Once Caesar salads came on the green scene, we had the croutons. But, just as our lettuce options have evolved, there are now more ways to add that crunch. Like the tangy tortilla chips in the Wildfire chopped salad.

Salad constructors have discovered yet another crunch option. Just ask the menu chef at Nordstrom, who adds (candied!) walnuts to the Blue Cheese and Pear Salad, spiced almonds to the Chicken, Apple and Goat Cheese Salad, and pumpkin seeds to the Lime and Cilantro Chicken salad.

The bad news is that there appears to be an increase in the number of nut allergies. Theories for this include the increased use of antibiotics, food additives and/or pesticides. So, when I recently made Jennifer’s chopped salad with grated cheddar cheese, chopped Granny Smith apples and minced Spanish onions, I had to check with my dinner guests before tossing in the roasted pistachios. No one was allergic, and the salad seemed to be a big hit with the group.

The good news is that nuts may not only taste good, but be good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic, nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids and other beneficial nutrients. Studies show that people who eat them as part of a hearty-healthy diet experience lower “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoprotein or “LDL”). Eating nuts has also been linked to lowering the risk of blood clots and improving artery health. The FDA has approved the following types of nuts for heart health: hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. A good daily intake is 1-2 oz.

So I guess it’s OK after all to go a little nuts—at least in my salads.

Yours till the lettuce leaves,