In many cultures, nuts are a primary source of protein, a diet staple that every body needs to live. Whether nuts are a fun food to eat or part of your daily diet, keep a look out for nut impostors. Keep reading to learn which of your favorite nuts may be something completely different!
Much like other nuts, Almonds grow on trees. Used in cooking or eaten raw, Almonds are very good for your health. The first Almonds were found in the Mediterranean region and have been around for thousands of years. Did you know that archaeologists found Almonds in the tomb of the famous Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamen?
Brazil nuts don't actually grow in Brazil. They grow in Bolivia and they're found on trees. They take 14 months to mature and are packed together like sections of an orange. There's no danger, but Brazil nuts are about 1,000 times more radioactive than most other foods! The Brazil nut tree gets this radioactivity from its very deep roots.
The Cashew is a crazy seed! That's right, the cashew isn't really a nut, but a seed. It grows at the end of the Cashew fruit. Harvesting the Cashew is a hard job - the oils that leak out of its shell can cause rashes similar to poison oak.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose... While most other nuts are eaten raw, Chestnuts really shine when they are cooked. If you ever get your hands on some Chestnuts, crack them and, with Mom or Dad's help, put them in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes to taste the spirit of Christmas.
Coconut means "tree of a thousand uses" in Malaysia and "Tree of Life" in the Philippines. Young coconuts are harvested for their milk. As the coconut ages and the husk dries out, its meat can be eaten raw or shredded and cooked. If you're worried about one falling on your head, don't. More people are killed by shark attacks than falling coconuts!
A very common plant, Hazel, produces the Hazelnut. While the Hazel plant is used primarily for hedgerows, the nut itself has many uses. In cooking, these sweet nuts are mostly used for desserts. Paired with chocolate, you can taste hazelnut in Nutella. Hazelnut syrup is also a favorite flavoring for coffee, giving the bitter beverage a sweet edge.
Because of their tropical origins, Macadamia nuts are popular in Hawaiian food. They taste great with fruit, fish and dessert. When you bring Macadamia nuts home, you're lucky that they've been cracked for you. It takes heavy machinery to get the little nut out of its super-tough shell.
About half a billion people on Earth use the Peanut as their main source of protein when meat, poultry, fish and beans are not available. Peanuts grow underground and can be roasted, salted or turned into butter. Did you know that peanuts are actually not nuts at all? They are in the legume family, along with peas, lentils and beans.
The Pecan is native to America and grows on hickory trees that can live up to 300 years. The nuts themselves are eaten fresh or used in cooking, most famously in the Southern delicacy of pecan pie. There is a nationwide dispute in America about how to pronounce the name of this nut. Some say “pi-kahn," some say “pe-can."
Pine nuts actually fall out of pinecones that grow on the Swiss Pine, Stone Pine or Torrey Pine. A lot of Asian and Italian dishes use pine nuts, but not a lot of Americans eat them. Don't worry, though, you've probably tasted them. They're one of the key ingredients in delicious Italian pesto, along with Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic.
The Pistachio nut originated in the Middle East. Pistachios are eaten by themselves or made into ice cream. Mediterranean cooking uses the pistachio to make their honey and pastry dessert, Baklava. In July 2003, Pistachios became the first nut approved by the Federal Drug Administration because they help fight heart disease.
There are over 21 different kinds of walnuts - the most popular is the Persian Walnut. Walnuts are used in cooking and salads. Their oil is a nice alternative to olive oil for dressings. Walnuts are good for the heart and may help with Alzheimer's disease. Aside from the nuts, Walnut trees are very valuable for their "timber," or wood.