Nuts are a huge part of my diet, I use them in savoury dishes such as curries, in sweet desserts like layered mousse with caramelised nuts, I use them to make creamy sauces and non dairy cheese and most frequently, I snack on them between meals.
I was sent salted almonds, sweet chili pistachios, plain roasted pistachios and salt and pepper pistachios.
Pistachios are incredibly nutrient dense, offering high doses of vitamins B1 and B6, heart friendly thiamin and a good source of fibre and high grade unsaturated fatty acids.
Almonds are an incredible health food, beaming with nutrients including vitamin E, magnesium, manganese and vitamin B2 along with cholesterol reducing unsaturated fats.
On price, to my surprise, the salted almonds compared cheaper to supermarket own brand salted roasted almonds. They were priced £1.62 per 100g compared with £1.65 per 100g of Tesco branded almonds. They were also considerably cheaper than Blue Diamond brand which came in at £1.86 per 100g. What’s more is that the Tesco almonds had added oil, so for less price you can get pure roasted nuts free of extracted oils.
The pistachios compared more expensive to supermarket own brand roasted, salted pistachios at £1.52 per 100g compared to £1.16 per 100g at Tesco. However, one might argue the higher price reflects the quality of ‘sun-ripened and 100% naturally opened… and equally roasted’. I find the flavour to be far superior also, with the perfect salt amount whereas some other pistachios can taste of a salt overload.
The farm which grows the nuts (Paramount farms) uses more sustainable farming practices including water management, solar power and bio-rational pest control that uses naturally occurring compounds rather than dangerous chemicals. The company has also invested in the community through the establishment of scholarships, early education programs and a $4 million donation to a local children’s hospital, among other activities.
The only negative point I can make against the company is their use of animals for advertising, which, as a vegan, I am personally not comfortable with. However, this is not a criticism of the product itself.
The highlight for snacking were the sweet chili pistachios. I often find myself in an afternoon energy dip craving something savoury-sweet to give me a boost. Sometimes I can falter to a pack of sweet chili crisps. These nuts fitted the brief perfectly. They had the sweet chili flavour which has long been a favourite of mine along with the benefits of being carried in a whole nut with healthy unrefined fats as opposed to deep fried, flavoured crisps. They were a perfectly portable, quick and delicious energy booster relieving hunger pangs and the temptation to pig out after a long, hungry day. They tasted ‘real’ – of good, honest, delicious flavours without added oil or an extensive list of flavour enhancers and non pronounceable lab ‘ingredients’. The only downside? They were super moorish and with a naturally high calorie content, most of us do need to moderate our intake of even whole foods sometimes. However, I don’t think I can really drop points for addictive deliciousness!
The salt and pepper pistachios were a favourite too. I most enjoyed these as a real flavour and texture explosion in a salad. I simply sprinkled them over mixed leaves and cucumber alongside crusty seeded bread. They added such interest to an otherwise plain salad and of course, were great to snack on whilst the bread was warming. I’m next going to try these atop a curry alongside the plain roasted pistachios and perhaps some cashews. They would also work beautifully strewn through a rice dish with saffron and sweet dried fruit.
The salted almonds screamed dessert to me. I just imagined they’d work wonderfully alongside chocolate for a real sweet-salty pairing. When I was a child, I used to make sandwiches of potato crisps filled with sweet chocolate. I just adore the salty sweet flavour combination!
I’ve been wanting to try more raw desserts for a while so decided to develop a simple tart recipe combining sweet chocolate and salty almonds. The result was simply divine and the almonds really did have their place there. They gave another dimension that was to die for.
Of course if you want to make this in pure raw form, sub raw chocolate and unroasted almonds tossed with a little sea salt or alternatively simply sprinkle flakes of sea salt on top of the tart before serving.
I flavoured the filling with a sweet spice blend I received in a vegan swap package from Germany a couple of months ago. It is a fragrant blend of strawberries, vanilla, ginger, roses and lavender. Cinnamon or pure vanilla would be wonderful here too.
I will be serving the remainder of my nuts at Christmas as a nice change to whole nuts and the scary nutcracker! That’s if I don’t nibble on them all first. I highly recommend trying the Wonderful brand of nuts for a tasty treat! (Please note, I have not been paid for this review, all views written here are genuinely my own!).
Ingredients: Serves 8
- 1 cup/135g mixed nuts (pistachios,cashews,walnuts,almonds)
- 3/4 cup/130g soaked pitted dates
- 250ml/1 cup coconut cream (from a carton or a chilled can of coconut milk – solid cream only)
- 100g dark non dairy chocolate (or raw chocolate)
- 1 large soaked pitted date
- Pinch of sweet spice blend (I used a blend including lavender and vanilla, optional)
- 60g/1/2 cup salted almonds
- Lightly grease a 6 inch round loose based tin with oil spray.
- In a food processor, pulse the nuts just to roughly chop then add the drained dates and blitz until a dough is formed.
- Press into the base and up the sides of the tin, pressing it in evenly with damp fingers. Place in the freezer whilst you make the filling.
- Simply add the coconut cream, melted chocolate, drained date and spice (if using) to the processor and whizz until really smooth, creamy and slightly aerated. Pour onto the base and spread evenly. Top with the roughly chopped almonds and chill until set, at least a couple of hours.
- Slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water between slices.