Fresh Fridays

May 29, 2015
Vol. VII No. 11
Bowl of nuts
In This Issue

Let's Go Nuts!


Lately, it seems like people are going crazy for nuts: there are endless varieties of nut snacks, butters, milks, oils and flours at the grocery store, and nuts are popping up in all kinds of dishes, from salads to dessert. For good reason! Nuts are delicious, healthy, and add unique flavors and textures to meals. They can also be an important source of protein, especially for those following plant-based diets.


Food and Culture: Nuts have been an important source of protein in the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years. Nuts native to the temperate climate of the Mediterranean region include:

  • AlmondsAlmonds have the most calcium of all the nuts and their skins contain flavonoids that increase the health benefits of the antioxidants in their meat. 
  • ChestnutsRoast them on an open fire or use them in stuffing. Chestnuts were the main source of carbohydrates for people living in mountainous areas for hundreds of years.
  • HazelnutsPopular in desserts and chocolatey spreads, hazelnuts are high in monounsaturated fats. 
  • Pine
    One of the best sources of protein of all the nuts, pine nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats. 
  • Pistachios. The most colorful of the nuts, pistachios are high in monounsaturated fats and contain carotenoids associated with reduced risk of macular degeneration. 
  • WalnutsHigh in omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, walnuts have been cultivated for over 2,500 years. Greeks and Romans believed the gods feasted on what they called the "acorn of Jupiter," and they extracted oil from walnuts before they did so with olives.

Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, and pecans are not native to the Mediterranean, but they still have similar health benefits. Peanuts (although they are technically legumes) do too. In fact, nuts are essential to most traditional diets around the world. Eat a variety of nuts to get the most health benefits; each has a unique combination of nutrients.


There's no reason to shy away from nuts. Although they are calorie-dense and contain fat, nuts are a source of "good" fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol, among other things) and make healthy and delicious contributions to meals or snacks. And scientists are beginning to realize they have long overstated the calories in a serving of nuts, because not all of the calories in nuts are actually absorbed by the body. Just a handful fills you up and provides a long-lasting source of energy throughout the day. 


Nuts can also replace other fatty-tasting foods, like cheese or butter, in our meals. We crave fat because our bodies need it, and nuts are a healthy way to satisfy this craving. Nuts also offer important nutrients like vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium and fiber.


Nutrition Science: Looking to science, there are more good reasons to make nuts a part of your daily meals. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, "Several of the largest cohort studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women's Health Study, the Nurses' Health Study, and the Physicians' Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week."


In a landmark PREDIMED study first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2013, scientists observed that an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, resulted in a substantial reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events among high-risk persons. The results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Other recent studies have found that eating nuts improves cardiac health among healthy individuals and across socioeconomic groups.


Cognitive function was also studied as part of the PREDIMED trial. In a paper published in the JAMA Internal Medicine in 2015, scientists investigated whether a Mediterranean diet supplemented with antioxidant-rich foods influences cognitive function compared with a control diet, and concluded that in an older population, eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts was associated with improved cognitive function.


Good taste and good science! Try nuts as a snack, roast them and sprinkle them on salads, or chop them up and use them to encrust fish. Experiment with nut flours and butters, or make your own. For more ideas, check out the nut recipes below, along with this week's featured books from our Bookstore.


Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe.
Zesty Walnut Hummus


Pair vegetable sticks or pita triangles with this tasty twist on a classic snack that packs a nourishing punch from walnuts, one of the most versatile and nutrient-dense foods. 


Recipe and photo courtesy of The California Walnut Board & Commission.


Walnut Stilton Salad


The intense flavor of a hint of Stilton blue cheese pairs well with walnuts and a sherry wine vinegar dressing in this refreshing salad. Instead of extra virgin olive oil, try walnut oil for an even nuttier flavor.


Recipe and photo courtesy of International Collection Oils.


Peanut Zucchini Muffins


If you're looking for a change from standard muffin flavors, try this recipe. The muffins have a delicious peanut flavor, and make great use of zucchini. Get your vegetables and nuts in every bite!


Recipe and photo courtesy of The Peanut Institute.


Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be. 

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        





Let the old ways be your guide to good health and well-being.       



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 This month-long celebration, created in 2009 by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, generates awareness of the delicious foods and amazing health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet and its vibrant lifestyle through media, supermarkets, health professionals and social networking.

For more information, visit Med Diet Month.

by Susan Herrmann Loomis

Go nutty with Nuts in the Kitchen! Internationally-renowned food expert Susan Herrmann Loomis has put together a comprehensive collection of more than 100 nut recipes for every meal and every taste. 


by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian

In a Nutshell is a complete guide to cooking and baking with nuts and seeds. With more than 250 recipes exploring the culinary and cultural history of nuts and seeds in everything from Pumpkin Seed Guacamole to Hazelnut Roulade, In a Nutshell unites the smooth, crunchy, savory, and sweet.


by Marie-Pierre Moine, Elisabeth Luard, and Ghillie Basan

Bringing together authentic recipes from Italy, Greece, Provence, northern Africa, and the Middle East, DK's Mediterranean Cookbook gives cooks the necessary tools to recreate the flavors of the Mediterranean in their own homes.

Fresh, healthy, and easy to make, the Mediterranean Cookbook contains more than 300 recipes, from Citrus Lamb Tagine and Leek Moussaka to Panzanella and Tzatziki.