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Happy Macadamia Nut Day!

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Happy Macadamia Nut Day!

Rich in thiamin, manganese, and monounsaturated fatty acids, macadamia nuts are a tasty treat that you can feel good about popping.

Today is a day to be celebrated because: a) the kids are back at school and no longer need to be entertained 24/7 (“Mom, I’m bored!”), and b) it’s Macadamia Nut Day! Rich in thiamin, manganese, and monounsaturated fatty acids, macadamia nuts are a tasty treat that you can feel good about popping.  So crack a can open and relax a few minutes—your holidays are just beginning!

It’s in the fat
Although macadamia nuts are notorious for their high fat content (they’re one of the fattiest nuts you can eat), much of this fat comes from monounsaturated fatty acids (80 to 85 percent, in fact).

Monounsaturated fatty acids (or MUFAs as they’re sometimes referred to) are liquid at room temperature and include olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, and avocado oil. While trans fats and some saturated fats have negative effects on our health, MUFAs are actually good for us, providing heart-protective benefits by helping to lower cholesterol and protecting against heart disease and stroke.

Snack mindfully
Now although macadamia nuts tout healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, they also contain saturated fat, which can raise bad (LDL) cholesterol, and is generally not healthy when consumed often.

A cup of macadamia nuts packs a whopping 962 calories and 16 g of saturated fat, so if you’re looking for a snack to mindlessly much on while watching television, this isn’t it.  Dole yourself out a single 1 oz (28 g) serving, which contains a more reasonable 201 calories and 3 g of saturated fat. Or whip up the macadamia spread below from Lawren Moneta’s “Cheese Please” article, and eat it with sliced veggies for a balanced snack.

Raw Macadamia Nut Cheese Spread
This quick and easy cheese has the taste and texture of ricotta. Flavouring the cheese makes it perfect as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip for vegetables or fruits.

Nut Cheese
2 cups (500 mL) raw, unsalted macadamia nuts*
3/4 cup (180 mL) water
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
2 tsp (10 mL) nutritional yeast (optional)

Savoury Spread or Dip
1 recipe nut cheese (see recipe above)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) Italian herb blend
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper

Sweet Spread or Dip
1 recipe nut cheese (see recipe above)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated orange zest
Pinch ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 mL) cocoa powder (optional)

*Raw, unsalted cashews or blanched almonds can also be used.

Soak nuts in 2 cups (500 mL) water for 8 to 24 hours.

Drain and rinse nuts under cold water. Place nuts and water in blender and process, scraping down the sides as needed, until you have a smooth, thick paste. Be patient—this may take awhile, depending on how powerful your blender is. Blend in salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast (if using).

Make nut cheese savoury or sweet by adding suggested ingredients and blending until well incorporated.

Macadamia nut cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups (500 mL).

Each plain 2 Tbsp (30 mL) serving contains:
123 calories; 2 g protein; 13 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 3 g carbohydrates; 2 g fibre; 147 mg sodium

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