The Nut Guide – Everything You Need to Know About Nuts

Words: Stéphanie Pereira

Nuts have a reputation for being a high-calorie and high-fat food. However, they are dense in nutrients and provide heart-healthy fats. They’re also high in protein, and vitamins and are completely delicious – in any form! Nuts are magical little foods that can be used for nut butters, oils, flours and milks.

Nut Guide: Nuts

We’ve put together a little nut guide with pretty much everything you need to know about nuts – from their growth, to nutrients, benefits, and our favourite recipes – you’ll want to get that recipe note-book out.

Almonds

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 579 calories, 21g protein, 50g fat.

Star Nutrient: calcium (in addition to building bones and keeping them strong and healthy, calcium also enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat)

Nut Guide: Almonds
Nut Guide: Almond tree

How They Grow

Almonds grow in a shell, inside a hull, on a tree. The ripeness of the nut is confirmed when the hull splits, and the inner shell starts to crack. Almond trees are knocked with a mallet of some sorts to allow the ripe fruits to fall. The hull is then peeled from the shell, which is immediately placed to dry for a day or two. Once dried out, the shell is cracked open, revealing the little almond nut.

Recipes with Almonds

If you’re looking at a ‘diet foods’ or ’10 foods to lose weight’ list, then you are most likely to come across almonds on all of them. Having the highest fibre content of all nuts and being low in carbohydrates, Almonds are considered to be the best nuts for weight loss.

Almonds are actually impressive little nuts as you can eat them as is (plainly roasted is a personal favourite), or they can be made into almond nut butter (a great alternative to peanut butter for keto diets), almond milk (great, low-calorie milk substitute), or almond flour (gluten-free flour substitute).

White Chocolate Muffins with Almond Streusel and Coffee Caramel
Date & Almond Butter Granola Bars

White Chocolate Muffins with Almond Streusel and Coffee Caramel

These chunky white chocolate muffins are topped with a crumbly almond streusel and lashings of homemade coffee caramel sauce.

Recipe for White Chocolate Muffins with Almond Streusel and Coffee Caramel

Date & Almond Butter Granola Bars

These granola bars are high in energy for an any-time boost with all the good fats and yumminess.

Recipe for Date & Almond Butter Granola Bars

Make your own almond milk for a lactose-free milk alternative.


Brazil Nuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 682 calories, 14g protein, 68g fat.

Star nutrient: selenium (a powerful mineral that plays a critical role in metabolism and thyroid function and helps protect your body from damage caused by oxidative stress)

Nut Guide: Brazil Nuts
Nut Guide: Brazil Nut tree

 How They Grow

Brazil nuts grow in pods on trees, which should drop naturally before harvesting the nuts. Each pod contains 10-25 seeds (nuts), arranged in segments like an orange, with a hard outer shell. You need to break open this hard shell to get the sweet little pieces of goodness inside – the Brazil nut.


Cashew Nuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 573 calories, 18g protein, 48g fat.

Star nutrient: iron (helps our muscles store and use oxygen, and is part of many proteins and enzymes, as well as haemoglobin – a protein which carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies)

Nut Guide: Cashew nuts
Nut Guide: Cashew nut on cashew apple

How They Grow

Cashew nuts are found in shells, which, incidentally, are quite toxic. A single shelled nut is attached to what is called a ‘cashew apple’– a ‘pseudofruit’ that grows on a tree and actually looks more like a pear in terms of shape… The cashew apples are ready to harvest when the fruit turns red in colour and the shell turns grey in colour, or when the fruit falls from the tree. The shells are detached from the fruit and left to dry. When you can hear the nut rattle inside of the shell, the shell is ready to be cracked open to retrieve the cashew nut inside.

Recipes with Cashews

Cashew nuts are probably the creamiest of the nuts. If soaked and blended, they make for a beautifully creamy cheese substitute.

Cashew Nut Chicken in a Flash
Vegan Cashew Nut Cheese

Cashew Nut Chicken in a Flash

This recipe is a quick, one-wok wonder with loads of crisp veggies added to the mix.

Recipe for Cashew Nut Chicken in a Flash

Vegan Cashew Nut Cheese

Try this step-by-step recipe guide to make your own cashew nut cheese for a vegan-friendly cheese substitute.


Hazelnuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 650 calories, 14g protein, 64g fat.

Star nutrient: Vitamin E (acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals that are formed when our bodies convert food to energy)

Nut Guide: Hazelnut
Nut Guide: Hazelnut tree

How They Grow

Hazelnuts grow in nut clusters on a tree. The nuts are then plucked from the involucres (coverings) and left to dry. Once dry, the nuts can be roasted or cracked open and eaten as is.

Recipes with Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are not often eaten raw as their flavour is best developed through roasting. They are commonly used as a flavouring, as an oil and of course, that famous nut spread we all love, Nutella.

Hazelnut & Coffee Layer Cake
Chocolate & Hazelnut Braided Bread

Hazelnut & Coffee Layer Cake

Afternoon coffee just got dunked with a whole lot of excitement.

Recipe for Hazelnut & Coffee Layer Cake

Chocolate & Hazelnut Braided Bread

Think about it as a gourmet Nutella sandwich – it’s well worth the effort.

Recipe for Chocolate & Hazelnut Braided Bread


Macadamia Nuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 718 calories, 7,9g protein, 76g fat.

Star nutrient: manganese (required for the normal functioning of your brain, nervous system and many of your body’s enzyme systems)

Nut Guide: Macadamia nuts
Nut Guide: Macadamia nut tree

How They Grow

Macadamia nuts grow with a hard-shell exterior, encased in a leathery two valved husk on a tree. Shrunken husks that push out/expose the nut means that the nut is ripe. The husks are then removed and the shelled nut is left to dry. Once the nut rattles in the shell, it is ready to be cracked open to reveal the little macadamia nut.

Recipes with Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts have a notoriously high-fat content, it’s no wonder they make for excellent dessert accomplices.

Apple Muffins with Macadamia Nut Streusel Topping
White Chocolate Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Caramelised Macadamia Nuts

Apple Muffins with Macadamia Nut Streusel Topping

A warm apple muffin with a nutty and crunchy streusel topping is as good as it sounds!

Recipe for Apple Muffins with Macadamia Nut Streusel Topping

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Caramelised Macadamia Nuts

A decadent cheesecake served with silky salted caramel sauce, topped off with crunch and nuttiness– a winning combo!

Recipe for White Chocolate Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Caramelised Macadamia Nuts


Peanuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 564 calories, 26g protein, 46g fat.

Star nutrient: folate (one of the B-Vitamins imperative during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence)

Nut Guide: Peanuts
Nut Guide: Peanut roots

How They Grow

The peanut plant flowers above ground, but the peanuts come from the roots – below the ground – which is why it is considered a legume (and actually not a nut). The peanut shells are cleaned off and the peanuts can be sold either in-shell or, more commonly, deshelled.

Recipes with Peanuts

It may not be technically classified as a ‘nut’, but we’re still nuts about peanuts. How can one not love the fundamental ingredient of peanut butter?

Peanut & Pink Salt Praline Cookies
Mini Doughnuts with Salted Peanut Brittle Dust

Peanut & Pink Salt Praline Cookies

These cookies combine crunchy praline & a pinch of pretty pink salt for one tasty batch of cookies.

Recipe for Peanut & Pink Salt Praline Cookies

Mini Doughnuts with Salted Peanut Brittle Dust

Moreish salted peanut mini doughnuts – It’s hard to stop at just one.

Recipe for Mini Doughnuts with Salted Peanut Brittle Dust

Check out a round-up of our favourite Peanut Butter Recipes for some peanuty treats.


Pecan Nuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 690 calories, 9,2g protein, 72g fat.

Star nutrient: folate (a B-Vitamin that is important for cell growth and metabolism)

Nut Guide: Pecan nuts
Nut Guide: Pecan nut tree

How They Grow

Pecans are tree nuts and grow in a shell inside a husk.. Once the husk dries and opens, the shells are exposed. The shells are then cracked open, revealing two pecan nuts.

Recipes with Pecans

Pecan nuts are popular dessert nuts and are the perfect addition to any warm, sticky and comforting pudding.

Salted CaramelPecan Nut Pie
Pecan & Pear Sticky Caramel Pudding

Salted CaramelPecan Nut Pie

An absolute classic – this version adds a twist of salted caramel for extra delish factor.

Recipe for Salted CaramelPecan Nut Pie

Pecan & Pear Sticky Caramel Pudding

Similar to a malva pudding, this pecan, pear and sticky caramel combo can be made on the braai to end on the sweetest of notes.

Recipe for Pecan & Pear Sticky Caramel Pudding


Pine Nuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 673 calories, 14g protein, 68g fat.

Star nutrient: Pine nuts are very high in dietary fat, vitamins E and K, manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Nut Guide: Pine Nuts
pinecone

How They Grow

Pine nuts are the edible seeds of the pine tree. A hard shell surrounds these nuts, and this shell is enclosed within a pine cone.

Recipes with Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are one of the lesser-known nut varieties, but they have been increasing in popularity over recent years. These nuts have a tasty, buttery flavour and they work well as a snack and provide a delicious flavour when used in cooking.

Rocket Pesto with Goat's Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts
Lemon Labneh with Roasted Tomatoes, Pine Nuts & Toasted Pita

Rocket Pesto with Goat’s Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts

The classic basil and parmesan pesto has some competition with this rocket and goat’s cheese pesto.

Recipe for Rocket Pesto with Goat’s Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts

Lemon Labneh with Roasted Tomatoes, Pine Nuts & Toasted Pita

Making your own labneh couldn’t be easier. It’s delicious and perfect for feeding a crowd.

Recipe for Lemon Labneh with Roasted Tomatoes, Pine Nuts & Toasted Pita


Pistachio Nuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 560 calories, 20g protein, 45g fat.

Star nutrient: Vitamin B6 (necessary for blood sugar regulation and significant to protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters)

Nut Guide: Pistachio nuts
Nut Guide: Pistachio nut tree

How They Grow

Pistachios are typically sold still inside their hard shell that is already slightly open. The nuts grow inside a hull, called an epicarp, which grows on pistachio trees. When ready to harvest, the epicarps are removed and the nuts are rinsed, left to dry, and then sometimes seasoned before being sold.

Recipes with Pistachios

Pistachio nuts really are crowd-pleasing favourites. The pretty green colour they impart makes them a great addition to different types of desserts, from ice cream to cakes, macarons and nougat. Deshelling them takes a bit of time but it’s totally worth it for their yummy, slightly sweet flavour. For baking and dessert making, opt for the de-shelled variety to save time.

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Torte
Pistachio, Cranberry & Honey Nougat

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Torte

Pistachio and chocolate is a heavenly combination, ideal for a tea-time treat.

Recipe for Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Torte

Pistachio, Cranberry & Honey Nougat

You can’t go wrong with a light and nutty nougat. A sweet little gift idea for friends and family.

Recipe for Pistachio, Cranberry & Honey Nougat

Check out more delicious Pistachio Recipes.


Walnuts

Nut Guide Nutritional Information per 100g: 688 calories, 15g protein, 69g fat.

Star nutrient: alpha-linolenic acid (preventing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels by preventing heart attacks, lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol, and reversing “hardening of the blood vessels”)

Nut Guide: Wanlut
Nut Guide: Wanlut tree

How They Grow

Walnuts grow in a hard, protective shell inside fruit-like hulls, which grow on trees. The nuts are harvested when the hulls fall to the ground. The hulls soften naturally over time, which makes it easier to remove to get the nut inside. Dehulled nuts are rinsed to remove debris and then left out to dry. Once dried the nuts are deshelled, revealing two walnuts.

Recipes with Walnuts

Walnuts are considered to be one of the best nuts for its health benefits for the heart and skin.

No-Knead Coffee, Cranberry and Walnut Country Loaf
Marinated Wild Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Crumble

No-Knead Coffee, Cranberry and Walnut Country Loaf

Rich coffee aromas and flavours complemented by earthy walnuts and sweet yet tart cranberries. It’s definitely a crowd favourite and the no-knead method will make you look like a bread baking rockstar.

Recipe for No-Knead Coffee, Cranberry and Walnut Country Loaf

Marinated Wild Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Crumble

An aromatic dish with earthy umami flavours.

Recipe for Marinated Wild Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Crumble

Being so small and moreish, nuts provide so much depth and satiety to all sorts of dishes. Even with all their health benefits though, eating nuts in moderation (like with anything) is the key – and probably the most difficult too. Now that you’re all clued up about nuts, go forth and enjoy!

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