Why You Should Add Chestnuts To Your Diet
With the falling leaves and crisp air, cold weather has finally arrived! What better way to celebrate than with a handful of roasted chestnuts?
'Tis the Season!
Fall is here and winter is truly on the horizon. That can only mean one thing: chestnut season!
With healthy snacks being particularly scarce around the upcoming holiday season, it's always good to know ahead of time what kind of holiday-friendly yet healthy options are available.
Chetnuts are often overlooked and taken for granted. Other tree nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and cashews take center stage, but chestnuts are currently in season and provide a variety of health benefits.
A Healthy Holiday Treat
Unlike a lot of nuts, chestnuts are low in calories with just 245 calories per 100g serving — that's less than half the amount of calories in the same serving of almonds.
They're also packed with good fiber, antioxidants, and a heap of other essential nutrients. Particularly high in vitamin C, they can give you an immune boost just in time for flu season.
A tasty way of eating them if you want to get a good dose of vitamin C, is by roasting them. Here's what you need to do:
Ingredients (for 1/2 lbs. chestnuts):
1/2 lbs. chestnuts (unpeeled, choose large and shiny looking ones!)
Optional seasoning (a pinch of salt enhances their overall flavor, while ground cinnamon adds a touch of extra depth).
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Using a sharp chef's knife, mark a cross on the rounded side of each chestnut. These will stop them from experiencing internal pressure (and therefore exploding!) while they're baking.
- Arrange the chestnuts on a baking tray.
- Put in oven and roast for 20 min. until their skins have pulled back and their nutmeat is exposed. The nutmeat should look like it's softening.
- Remove from oven and place in a pile in the middle of an old tea towel. Bunch them together, covering them completely with the towel, and squeeze them hard. They should crackle a little. Let them sit for a minute.
- Once they have cooled, pull back their skin completely so that their yellow flesh is exposed. Their shell should delicately crack and remove itself from the flesh.
- The bare chestnuts should resemble tiny, beige colored pumpkins. Place in a bowl, season if desired, and dig in.
Can Help Fight the Winter Fatigue
Chestnuts are also rich in folates, which you normally find in leafy greens.
Folate is a B-vitamin that helps your body make red and white blood cells and is vital to DNA synthesis. Chestnuts also contain important fatigue-fighting minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. They furthermore contain omega 3 fatty acids and are gluten-free, making them the perfect snack for those with high cholesterol or dietary restrictions.
So, if you're looking to incorporate them into your diet a little more, why not try this delicious recipe; sautéed bacon with onion and chestnuts? It works as the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Here's how to make it:
Ingredients (for 6 people):
- 1/2 lbs. bacon or pancetta (cut into 1/4-inch strips)
- 1 lbs. pearl onion
- 1 lbs. chestnuts (roasted and peeled)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley (for garnish, optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Add a glug of oil to a skillet and cook bacon over medium-low heat. Stir often for 10 min. until the fat has rendered and it starts to crisp. Transfer to a paper towel.
- Fill large bowl with ice and water and set aside. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Drop in onions and blanch for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, scoop them out and into the ice water for 2 mins. Scoop them out again into an empty bowl.
- In the same skillet used for the bacon, add the onions. Sauté the onions in the bacon fat. Stir occasionally and cook for 10 mins.
- Toss in the chestnuts and bacon, and stir in the honey.
- Season with salt and pepper, stir again, and serve up. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.
Hungry for more? Here are some Easy Thanksgiving Sides Ready in 30 Minutes of Less
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Chef Tips and Tricks
If you can get your hands on them, fresh almonds are delicious. That said, they can be quite tricky to peel. In this video we show you how to remove almond skins in just 5 easy steps!