Tree Nuts Add Flavor and Nutrients to Summer Entertaining

DAVIS, CA, April 2, 2001 –Tree nuts—nuts that grow on trees such as almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts—are one of the world’s favorite and most basic foods.  A part of many world diets known to be exceptionally healthful, tree nuts provide many important nutrients along with their rich and delicious flavor.  A number of studies have shown that the nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals found in as little as one ounce of nuts per day, can significantly decrease the risk of heart disease.

Although nuts are relatively high in fat, most of that fat is unsaturated.  Saturated fats, those found mainly in animal products, raise blood cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.  Unsaturated fats, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found mainly in plant foods like nuts, can actually decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) levels. 

While the unsaturated fat in nuts may play a major role in the protective effect against heart disease, other nutrients may also be important.  Tree nuts are a great source of folic acid, niacin and vitamins E and B6, as well as magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.  While not every nut contains all of these nutrients, eating a mixture of tree nuts can certainly provide a powerful punch.

The International Tree Nut Council has developed two new recipes for summer entertaining that showcase the international appeal of tree nuts.  Both are perfect for gatherings large or small, as they duplicate easily and are served at room temperature.  Use as many nuts as desired for the nut mixtures; each variety will add color, texture and a different flavor.  Try one or both of these dishes for outside or inside entertaining, for pool parties, picnics or any summer gathering.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Tree Nut Salad pairs a mix of tree nuts with shrimp, tomatoes and saffron-flavored rice; hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and walnuts are particularly tasty with these flavors.  The fresh basil, mint and lemon juice flavors keep the dish light and springy.  Serve this salad on a bed of greens and add crusty bread for a complete meal.

For a casual gathering, especially one involving children, serve South-of-the-Border Mixed Tree Nut and Chicken Pitas.  This colorful dish is packed with Southwestern flavors, like jicama, avocado and lime.  Try a mixture of almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts and pistachios in these sandwiches.  A plate of fresh fruit is a nice complement.