Spiced-up nuts, four ways to make your own super-snacks

Nut-selection

Nuts are a healthy snack, but virtually all commercially available salted, spiced, ‘dry roast’ or coated nuts have unacceptable industrial ingredients added to them, such as sugar, vegetable oils or xanthan gum. So it’s good to know you can spice up your own nuts quickly and easily to make something special for a party, evening in, or wine and nibbles with friends.

The method I use begins with oven roasting, then coating the roasted nuts in a hot frying pan using a liquid (fruit juice or vinegar) to carry the spices. The liquid ‘boils’ off almost instantly, coating the nuts, leaving them a little bit sticky, as you can see in the image above.

Total preparation time 20 minutes.

Nut-prep-0

I’m trialling several different recipes here, so have spread each kind out on a baking tray. Clockwise from top: cashews, macadamia, mixed nuts, pecans

Take your favourite mix of plain, raw, unsalted nuts. Spread them out on a baking tray, and place in a preheated oven at 170°C for eight to ten minutes, shaking them around a bit after five mins as most ovens seem to be have hot spots and you want them evenly roasted. Check towards the end to make sure they are not burning.

Meanwhile, make up the flavouring mix, which consists of a liquid (vinegar, tamari or lemon juice for instance) with spices mixed in (piri-piri, cinnamon, curry spices or black pepper for example)

Transfer the nuts from the oven to a large fairly hot frying pan. Put the extractor fan on ready…!

Pour the flavouring over, and stir the nuts rapidly as it sizzles and reduces, coating the nuts.

Nut-prep-2

If you don’t add too much liquid at once you should find that it almost instantly turns sticky and coats the nuts. This stage only takes a minute. BTW If you do add too much liquid then your nuts will end up being boiled and going soggy. Not so good :( but still tasty :)

Once coated, remove them from the pan and spread them out to cool.

Below are some of the flavouring mixes I have tried.

Cashews with lemon and black pepper

These are very moreish. Unfortunately, cashews are relatively high-carb nuts, so I tend to avoid them, but this flavouring would work well for most nuts.

Tamari 5-spice

Use a gluten-free tamari and add Chinese 5-spice.

These make a nice snack to nibble while watching a movie.

Curried Macadamias

Curried macadamias

Using vinegar of any type will give your nuts a nice sweet tangy flavour. I used white wine vinegar. Any curry powder should work. Macadamias have a buttery crunch that suits this flavour combination well. A little salt could also be added.

Balsamic pecans

Balsamic-pecans

Balsamic vinegar is sweeter than other vinegar as it contains grape juice. When used to make a coating for nuts it goes well with sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger. I added one tea spoon of honey for good measure! Even so, these nuts are much lower in sugar than any commercial ‘honey coated’ nut.

So there you are, nutty variations on a good old stand by. I recommend these as treats rather than everyday foods, as there are concerns about the oils in nuts becoming inflammatory to us when they are heated, but if you are not particularly vulnerable to inflammation and want a bit of a change then this won’t hurt you. Making them yourself is fun, and is not like a factory ‘product’. Rather it is an artisan food, in my opinion.

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