Nuts, nuts, nuts. I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned this a handful of times before now – I love nuts. With the holidays approaching I get even hotter and heavier about the things, because Christmas growing up in England meant nuts – at least at our house. All kinds of nuts from salted peanuts to sugared almonds; and masses of fresh nuts still in their hard, brown winter coats. Every Christmas Eve, out would come the nutcrackers and large wooden bowls brimming with unshelled nuts – brazils, walnuts, cobnuts (hazelnuts), and almonds. As a family we sure put those nutcrackers through their paces, but mostly it was my father and I who took first place in the nut-cracking and devouring stakes. From my mother I inherited a desire to cook, a mind like a steel trap when managing the household budget, a sweet tooth, and a penchant for ironing everything – and I mean everything – that comes out of the washing machine. From my father I inherited mad driving skills, silky fine hair, a lifelong fascination with psychotherapy, and a love for nuts.
When I lived in Australia I used to send Care Packages of indigenous foods to my parents back in England. My mother would get parcels of ginger – prepared every conceivable way you can imagine ginger could be – from the Buderim Ginger Factory in Yandina, Queensland. My father would get parcels of nuts. I remember the note I got after sending him a box crammed with all things macadamia – chocolate covered, roasted and salted, raw, and even some still in their shells. “Thanks for the macadamia nuts. Those things are something else – I broke 3 sets of nutcrackers and ended up clobbering them with a sledge hammer on the terrace to get the shells off.” Yes, my father and I, we love nuts.
I’ve added pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, coconut, chestnuts and cashews to my list of nutsome favorites since then. Turns out my nutty upbringing was just getting me ready for my calling in life – creating SANE stuff for all you lovely people out there in the land of eat-more-and-exercise-less, smarter. Do you even have any idea how many pounds of almonds I’ve gone through in the last few weeks while I’ve been conjuring up biscuits and scones and cookies and other baked deliciousness with no grains in them? Or how many total pounds of nuts and seeds I’ve consumed creating hot cereal, cold cereal, granola, and all manner of other nutty seedy delicacies for you? I am not complaining, in the least. Truly, I love nuts.
It was hard not to think about the holidays approaching while wandering the decked-out aisles down at Trader Joe’s the other day. I looked at all the pre-packaged nuts – the Honey Sesame Almonds and the other bags of sugar-laden nut morsels – and realized the world of nut snacks needs some *SANEity.
So just in time for the holidays, here’s some Caramel Orange Spice Cashews. They’re awesome. Festive, slightly sweet, a touch of zing, crispy, crunchy nuggets of nutty gloriousness.
Eat them instead of candy. Eat them instead of plain nuts. Eat them instead of those other nuts loaded with sugar or honey or whatever sweetness they come dunked in. Grab a handful for dessert. Throw some in your Greek yogurt for breakfast. Just remember they’re an addition to all those fabulous non-starchy veggies and proteins you’ve already downed. Or they’re a snack. They’re not the main deal. Munch on them accordingly.
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup / 2 fl oz. sugar-free caramel syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1 lb / 450g cashews
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 2 oranges – zest only
- In a large bowl whisk egg white, syrup, vanilla and orange extracts until frothy.
- Add cashews and stir until nuts are evenly and well coated.
- Add salt, cinnamon and orange zest and toss until cashews are completely covered.
- Spread nuts out onto a foil-covered baking sheet.
- Bake at 350F for 25 minutes until deep, golden brown, stirring the nuts to separate them every 5 minutes.
- Leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight jar.