The chestnut is an endearing holiday treat sung about around the Christmas tree in homes around the country. It brings memories of sitting by the fireplace on a snowy Christmas Eve while eating the warm comforting sweet meat of this glorious nut.
Chestnuts were one of the first foods to be eaten by man, dating back to prehistoric times. Most of our crops come from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. There are a few crops here in the US but most of the imported crops were destroyed in 1904 by a fungus. It takes a chestnut tree 40 years to begin producing nuts.
The chestnut throughout history has been used as a crop for sustenance, eaten on special holidays, and was even said that the Greek army survived on them during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 BC.
December is prime harvesting time for chestnuts. Choose nuts that are smooth and heavy. Give them a little shake, if it rattles it is drying out already. You can store fresh nuts in your refrigerator for about a month.
Chestnuts importance as a life sustaining crop comes from having twice the starch content as potatoes. Their nutrition is very similar to that of brown rice. Like no other nuts, they are also low in fat making them only 69 calories per ounce. Chestnuts have a significant amount of Vitamin C, trace minerals, and fiber. The meat inside is soft and starchy, more like a grain. You must boil or roast them before eating as they have high levels of tannic acid. They must be cooked thoroughly to avoid digestive problems.
Before roasting, slice an X on the flat side. This scores the shell so the pressure that builds up from the cooking process doesn't explode the nut. It also makes shell removal easier. You can roast chestnuts in your oven at 400 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally, roasting over the white hot coals of your fire in a cast iron pan, or even in your microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot as it is easier to get the shell off when they are still warm.
Enjoy chestnuts in a variety of different recipes.
- Add chopped chestnuts to pasta, vegetable, and grain dishes.
- sprinkle over winter squash or sweet potatoes
- spread puree on crepes or pancakes.
- use puree to thicken soups
- add to salads
- add to your holiday stuffing
- make cookies from chestnut flour
- coat with powdered sugar for a healthy dessert or served chopped over roasted pears
There are many tasty recipes for chestnuts!
However you eat your chestnuts
here is wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays!
This comment form is powered by GentleSource Comment Script. It can be included in PHP or HTML files and allows visitors to leave comments on the website.
Lisa Metzgar, PhD
Lisa Metzgar, PhD, has been in the alternative health field since 1996.
She received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her PhD in Holistic Nutrition. Lisa has taught body mind retreats in San Diego, Seattle, and Australia and currently has a practice in Reno, NV where she does nutritional counseling. Lisa's passion is to educate families in a healthy lifestyle. Visit her website Concepts In Wellness or e-mail her at lisa (at) conceptsinwellness.com
Grocery Shopping 101
Simple Ways to Eat Healthy
Not all Fats are Created Equal
The Soda Story
High Fiber Foods And Their Fiber Content Per Serving
Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index Nutrition Tidbits by Lisa Metzgar, PhD
Delicious Fruits That Heal Us
So How Much Water Do You Need To Drink Everyday?
The Zero-Waste School Lunch
Enjoy Chestnuts In A Variety Of Different Recipes
Wellness Goals in the New Year - Best Diet for Weight Loss
The Healthy Benefits of Chocolate