By: Jodie Shield, RD
So based on my last blog, many of you are not familiar with hazelnuts? In a nutshell (pardon the pun!), here are some of the basics. Hazelnuts are sweet, acorn-shaped nuts. The hazelnut has a long fuzzy outer husk that opens as the nut ripens, revealing a hard smooth shell. While ancient folk lore believed that hazelnuts held the cure for everything from baldness to indigestion, modern science tells us the truth. Research has discovered that hazelnuts are good for your heart. The monounsaturated fats in hazelnuts – like all nuts – help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Hazelnuts are also a source of plant sterols, substances that may reduce the risk of heart disease ad some cancers. In addition to all of these disease-fighting benefits, hazelnuts supply good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, vitamin B 6, iron, and magnesium. Also, compared to other nuts, hazelnuts have a high vitamin E content.
How do you buy hazelnuts? They are available in-shell and shelled; chopped, ground, or whole; roasted (brown skin removed) or unroasted (with skin). Since hazelnuts impart a sweet, rich flavor, you can use them in a variety of ways. Let me share a few suggestions:
- Add hazelnuts to salads.
- Coat fish in a mixture of bread crumbs and crushed hazelnuts before sautéing.
- Stir coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts into frozen yogurt.
- Add chopped hazelnuts to vegetable sautes.
- Scatter slightly crushed toasted hazelnuts over grilled pineapple slices for dessert.
- Add hazelnuts to pilafs, risottos, and other rice dishes.
Here is another awesome recipe from the cookbook Oregon Hazelnut Country: The Food, The Drink, The Spirit by Jan Roberts-Dominguez. I love to serve this tasty hummus with those adorable mini-sweet bell peppers. They come in beautiful array of colors and I simply cut them into strips.
Barb’s Hazelnut Hummus
yield = 2 1/2 cups
- 2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans), reserving the liquid
- 2 – 3 tablespoons liquid from the drained chickpeas1/2 cup hazelnut butter
- 1/2 cup hazelnut butter
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili oil
- 1 tablespoon mashed and finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a blender or food processor, combine the chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the drained chickpeas, hazelnut butter, lime juice, olive oil, chili oil, garlic and salt. Blend until pureed. Adjust seasonings, adding additional chili oil, lime juice and salt to taste. If it is too thick, add additional liquid from the drained chickpeas.
Nutrition Information (per 1 tablespoon): 40 calories, 1 gram protein, 2.5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 3 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 60 milligrams sodium