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Nuts Dressed for The Holidays

Monday, November 26, 2012

While I'm a huge fan of roasted chestnuts, and do indulge every year, they're not the only warming holiday treat I can think of, not to mention that they can't be eaten raw. I figured it would be nice to have cupfuls of different kinds of flavored nuts on the table. They're so satisfying to have around and they can be done raw. No roasting or toasting required. They only take a few minutes of preparation and then the dehydrator takes care of the rest. VoilĂ , your family and friends and your guests can reach for just a handful of savory or sweet goodness amidst the, you know, everything else that's going on...
The savory ones are still being made so here are some sweet versions for now.

Chocolate Almonds
To be coated:
1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup raisins

For the coating:
3-4 tsp honey / agave syrup / other sweetener
2 tsp melted coconut oil / other oil
2-3 tsp cacao powder
tiny pinch of salt
optional: pinch of vanilla, pinch of cayenne

1. Mix the oil, sweetener, and salt and then add cacao little by little. Taste test and adjust the amount of sweetener. Raw cacao is quite bitter so if you're not used to that you might need to add more sweetener to your mixture or simply use less cacao.
2. Optional: Chop up the raisins into smaller pieces.
3. Add the almonds and raisins to your mixture and make sure all of them are coated well.
4. Spread them out on a teflex sheet and dehydrate for a few hours at 115˚F (46˚C).

Maple Walnuts
To be coated:
Walnuts that have been soaked for a couple of hours OR rinsed. The ingredients will only stick to wet walnuts. You may use maple syrup instead of solid sweeteners and then you can keep your walnuts dry. If you go that route the end result will have a glazed look instead of what's pictured here.

For the coating:
4 tbsp maple crystals / coconut sugar / other solid state sweetener in crystal form
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp mesquite powder*
tiny pinch of salt
optional: add lucuma powder to your mixture for a hint of "caramel"

1. Mix your coating ingredients. Taste test and adjust the amount of cinnamon, you might want to add more if you're a huge fan of cinnamon like myself. Mesquite has a unique flavor so use less if it's new to you and add more if you like it.
2. Add the wet (really damp but not dripping wet) walnuts to your mixture and make sure all of them are coated well. Because of their shape this might take some moving them around with your hands or a fork so that you get the mixture in the grooves as well. 
4. Spread them out on a teflex sheet and dehydrate for a few hours at 115˚F (46˚C), until crispy.

By the way, good luck having an untouched batch at the end! You might want to make a double batch to start with because the smell and just knowing that they're in the dehydrator might invite more visitors, like Cookie Monster, etc. whom will make sure only about a portion of these nuts will get all the way dehydrated and crunchy. Either way, if by any chance you ended up with empty trays at least you made your house smell like a healthy cake shop :)

*Magical Mesquite
What's used to be a staple food for Native Americans is available in health-food stores now in a powder form. It's a nutritious way to add a very distinct, somewhat sweet and malty, or even caramel-like flavor. Mesquite helps balance one's blood sugar level, which makes this superfood an excellent choice for those healing from diabetes. Very high in protein, fiber, minerals, and the hard-to-get amino acid, lysine, it's no surprise it has been pronounced a "superfood". Use it in desserts, smoothies, mylkshakes, even soups, etc.

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