Healthy Chestnuts Easily Used in a Variety Of Different Recipes
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…
Nutrition Tidbits by Lisa Metzgar, PhD
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 the chestnut 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 chestnuts 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 chestnuts, they are also low in fat making them only 69 calories per ounce.
Chestnuts have a significant amount of:
- Vitamin C
- Trace minerals
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 the 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’s wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays!
More About Nutrition:
LisaMetzgar, PhD,she received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her Ph.D. 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 nutrition counseling.Lisa's passion is to educate families about a healthy lifestyle.
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