A Handful of Protein Goodness
You may not be a big fan of eating gourmet nuts on their own, but there's a good chance you are eating nuts regularly in other assorted food items. Gourmet nuts are a staple of many tasty dishes, from salads and appetizers to entrees and desserts. Nuts just seem to go well with just about any type of food, as they add just a little more texture and flavor to them.
You can find gourmet nuts in cookies, ice cream, cakes, chocolates, chocolate bars, brownies, fudge and in assorted mixed snacks. You may just love to eat nuts on their own too, as you can eat them raw and roasted. If you are a lover of nuts, there are many crunchy and tasty types out there to choose from, such as walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and soy nuts. If you happen to live in the right temperate conditions, you could also try to grow some nuts of your own.
The technical description of a botanical nut is that it's a simple dry fruit with one seed and sometimes, but rarely, two, in which the ovary wall or part of it becomes very hard at the age of maturity. True nuts are produced by flowering plants, but not all true nuts are edible. Some types of nuts, such as birch, alder and hornbeam too small to be worth eating and some others such as tanoak are usually too bitter to eat. In gourmet cooking though, nuts usually cover a broader range and many of the foods we consider to be nuts, aren't technically nuts. An example of this would be peanuts as they are technically legumes and not nuts. Other edible nuts that aren't true nuts include almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, coconuts and pistachios.
Nuts and seeds can get a little complicated as the term nut is sometimes used for a seed, but nuts and seeds are different things. A nut is a seed, but not all seeds are nuts. A seed comes from fruit and can be removed from the fruit. A nut is a compound ovary that is both the seed and the fruit, and the two cannot be separated.
Gourmet nuts are a highly regarded source of food and energy because they generally have a high content of oil in them. Not only are nuts greatly appreciated by us humans, but animals love them too. Nuts or seeds are also an important source of nutrition for various types of wildlife. This is especially the case in temperate climates, where animals such as jays and squirrels will store acorns and other nuts during the fall to keep them from starving during the wintertime and early spring.