Introduction

Introduction

By
Pippa Murray
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849499859
Photographer
Adrian Lawrence

Hi! My name’s Pip and I’m the founder of Pip & Nut.

The observant readers amongst you may have guessed that Pip & Nut make nut butter. Not just any nut butter, mind. Our nut butter is 100% natural, free of nasty things like palm oil and sugars, and tastes bloomin’ amazing. What started a few years ago as just a twinkle in my eye, a few bags of nuts and a pretty swish blender in my kitchen in North London, has grown into a brand that is now being stocked in lots of shops around the UK and Ireland, and has now given me the opportunity to write this recipe book.

But what spurred me to start Pip & Nut? Well, it came about through my combined love of two things: running and nut butter. Bit random, I know, so let me explain the connection. I spend a large amount of my free time running, sometimes short runs, other times marathons, and I like eating nut butter as my post-run reward. Not only do I love the stuff, but the fact that it is high in protein means that it’s pretty good at giving me a bit more energy to help me run that little bit faster. Or at least that’s my excuse. However, when looking at the products available to me in supermarkets I noticed many had palm oils and sugars in there. Not being that happy about this, I decided it was time to bring something better to the table. Literally.

I got my blender out, played around with different nuts and flavours and started taking my kitchen-table experiments to markets at weekends. Lots of samples and satisfied customers later, I decided to take the plunge and scale up to get the products to more people. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Whilst Pip & Nut is a company that sets out, first and foremost, to bring you delicious nut butter (you’re welcome), the founding principles behind our company go a little bit deeper than that. We’re big believers that food, and in particular healthy food, should never, ever be boring. You shouldn’t feel like you’ve made a sacrifice by choosing a healthier option. Food should be a joy to make and then eat.

That’s why I’m super-proud of this book. It stands for the fact that from a healthy product – nut butter – you can create incredibly tasty dishes. Some of these recipes you could say are pretty ‘good’, while others you’d probably class as a bit ‘naughty’; but you can safely say that you’ll never describe them as bland.

And yes, whilst nut butter as an ingredient is healthy – it’s just nuts, after all – there are a few key things I hope you notice when flicking through this book: that nut butter is really versatile and that you can have a lot of fun experimenting with it; that there’s more to nut butter than just spreading some on a slice of plain white toast for breakfast; that actually you can pep up your morning smoothie before work, add it to your weekend baking or use it to give your evening meal a boost.

So what are you waiting for? Get cracking (I had to get a nut pun in there somewhere. It’ll be the only one I promise!).

It’s the nuts

It’s not often that nuts get attention. Perhaps it’s because their more colourful friends – fruit – take all the limelight. But seeing as this is a nut butter cookbook, we didn’t think we could start without giving you the low-down on nuts. So, bananas, mangoes, apples, raspberries: move aside. It’s time to talk nuts.

There are a lot of different types of nuts out there and also lots of nuts that are masquerading as seeds*. Below you’ll find a run through of the key nuts that crop up in this book, a bit of information about the nutritional benefits behind them and a fact for you to share with your friends down the pub. They’ll be impressed. Well, kind of.

* Without making things too complicated we’ve asterisked the ones that claim they are a nut but are actually a seed or legume!

Almonds

Where are they grown? The fact that over 80% of the world’s almonds come from sunny California means they’re a pretty big deal out there. So big they’ve got their very own association, “Almond Board of California”. Fancy!

Almonds are harvested once a year in California, and if you ever want to go and see something really beautiful, then head to Cali in February to March, when you’ll see Sacramento covered in light pink and white blossoms, the first stage of the cycle of almond crops. Bees then get busy pollinating the trees to kick-start the growth of the crop. Six months later these almonds will be ready to be shaken from their trees and harvested.

What’s so special about them? People get excited about almonds because they are packed with lots of minerals, like magnesium, and vitamins, like vitamin B2, which make your hair shiny and nails strong. They also contain naturally high levels of protein. This, coupled with their popularity in almond oil and milk, makes them the UK’s second favourite nut. Nice.

Fact! 40% of the world’s almonds are bought by chocolate manufacturers – surprised? Blame it on all those Valentine’s Day assortments.

Brazil nuts*

Where are they grown? Funnily enough you can find Brazil nuts growing in Brazil. But Brazil isn’t the world’s biggest producer of Brazil nuts – that would be Bolivia, which produces about 50% of the world’s supply. “Bolivia nuts” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it though.

What’s so special about them? It’s no small feat to grow these nuts. They grow near the tops of 150-foot trees in hard casings similar to coconuts. Each case has 20 to 30 nuts snuggled inside, arranged like the segments of an orange. Brazil nut trees are quite particular, too. They require a specific bee for pollination and can take as long as 30 years to mature.

Fact! The cases fall off the trees when ripe, and are easily heavy enough to kill a person.

Cashew nuts*

Where are they grown? The cashew tree is native to Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. It was spread all over the planet by Portuguese explorers, and today is cultivated on a commercial scale in Brazil, Vietnam, India and many African countries.

What’s so special about them? A cashew tree bears numerous, edible, pear-shaped “false fruits”, called cashew apples, and on the bottom you’ll see the cashew nut. But here’s the catch: the nut is encased in a poisonous shell! Which is why, for safe eating, they must go through a rigorous roasting or steaming process to remove the substance.

Nutritionally, cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts.

Fact! The cashew apple has several culinary uses in its native countries, but because the skin of this fruit is very delicate, it can’t be exported. This is why most of us have never seen a cashew apple before!

Cobnuts & hazelnuts

Where are they grown? Hazelnuts and cobnuts are one and the same. Hazelnuts are primarily found in Iran and Turkey, while in Britain we grow cobnuts. Whilst hazelnuts are dried, cobnuts are unique in that they are typically sold fresh, which gives the nuts a seasonal market and unique culinary uses.

But beware: if you are hoping to get your hands on these nuts you will have to deal with your main competitor – grey squirrels (pesky little creatures). They will strip a tree in no time.

What’s so special about them? With the sole exception of almonds, this is the nut with the highest content of vitamin E. Hazelnuts have become pretty inseparable from chocolate and are most famously used to make praline and … *drum roll* … Nutella!

Fact! Ancient Greeks believed hazelnuts could treat coughing and baldness.

Macadamia

Where are they grown? Hawaii might not spring to mind when you think of macadamia nuts, but this small archipelago in the Central Pacific is the largest exporter in the world.

What’s so special about them? They contain high amounts of vitamin B1 and magnesium. Besides having a great omega-3 to omega-6 ratio – which helps in fighting inflammation – macadamia nuts contain the largest amount of monounsaturated fatty acids of any nut.

But watch out: Never feed macadamia nuts to your four-legged best friend – they’re toxic to canines!

Fact! They have a National Macadamia Nut Day in the USA on 4th September – that’s dedication.

Peanuts*

Hands down the most popular and beloved nut in the world, beating the almond to first place. While “nut” is in their name, peanuts are in fact legumes.

Where are they grown? Two-thirds of globally produced peanuts originate in China and India, but Argentina and the USA are big growers too.

What’s so special about them? The beneficial plant fat in peanuts, which is about 80% unsaturated (considered the “good” fat – see below) can help lower cholesterol levels when it replaces saturated animal fat in the diet. Peanuts and peanut butter are also naturally cholesterol-free!

Fact! For those of you who have an irrational fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth, then clearly you’re not alone. This can be diagnosed as Arachibutyrophobia.

Pecans

Where are they grown? Pecan trees are native to North America, and over 80% of the world’s pecan crop comes from the USA.

What’s so special about them? There are more than a whopping 1,000 varieties of pecan. Many are named after Native American Indian tribes, including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee.

Fact! About 78 pecans are used in the making of an average pecan pie.

Pine nuts*

Where are they grown? Crunchy yet buttery in texture, pine nuts are pleasantly sweet. They are the small edible seeds of the female cone on the pine trees. While all pine trees will produce a pine nut, only 18 species in the world actually produce large enough nuts to be eaten. These trees are found across Asia, Europe and North America.

What’s so special about them? Pine nuts are gluten-free tree nuts, but are probably best known for their use in pesto. It may surprise you to learn that pine nuts can be a potent appetite suppressor. Why? They’re a good source of a polyunsaturated fat.

Fact! Apparently, the ancient Greeks and Romans also ate pine nuts. Archaeologists have found the seeds in the ruins of Pompeii.

Pistachios

Where are they grown? 90% of all pistachios are grown in Turkey and Iran.

What’s so special about them? If you happen to be feeling stressed, then eat a handful of pistachios. They have a significant amount of potassium that helps in lowering the stress hormone cortisol in our body. Pistachios are also called skinny nuts – one pistachio nut has just 3 calories!

Fact! The country that consumes the most pistachios is China, totalling an impressive 80,000 tons a year – that’s the equivalent of 28,000 elephants or eight Eiffel towers!

Walnuts*

Where are they grown? Walnuts are the oldest known tree food, dating all the way back to 10,000BC. They were brought to California in the 18th century, and this US state now produces 75% of the world’s supply of walnuts. No wonder they are so wrinkly!\

What’s so special about them? Due to their appearance, with the shell shaped like a human skull and the kernel resembling a brain, walnuts have always been regarded as “brain food”. Recent studies have shown that they do indeed promote brain function because of their omega-3 fatty acid content.

Fact! Because walnuts resemble the brain, they were believed in medieval times to be able to cure headaches.

It’s the nuts seeds

We know this is a nut butter book so talking about seeds shouldn’t technically be on the agenda, but they’re actually quite closely linked. All seeds are encased in some form of fruit. Fruit is anything that protects a seed. Nuts are a type of fruit, and they also encase seeds. Confused? We don’t blame you. Well, the long and short of it is that as you can also make some pretty tasty recipes using seed butter, and as it’s a fairly similar process to making nut butter, they are worth a mention. Here’s a bit of information on some of the seeds we use throughout the book.

Pumpkin seeds

Also known as pepitas for those who speak Spanish, these are flat, dark green seeds that you can sometimes find encased in a yellow-white husk.

Where are they grown? Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country, where they are traditionally eaten as a treat at small get-togethers, especially when friends are gathered to chat over a cup of tea.

What’s so special about them? While antioxidant nutrients are found in most nuts and seeds, it’s the diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds that makes them unique in their antioxidant support. Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E in its very wide range of varieties: alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol and gammatocomonoenol. The list goes on, but we don’t want to send you to sleep!

Fact! A quick Google search reveals that each pumpkin has about 500 seeds – we’ll take their word on that one.

Sesame seeds

Where are they grown? The sesame plant is a tall annual herb that belongs to the rather fancy Pedaliacea family, and grows extensively in Asia, particularly in Burma, China and India.

What’s so special about them? Sesame seeds may be tiny, but boy do they pack a punch when it comes to health benefits. In fact they were worth their weight in gold during the Middle Ages, and for many good reasons. These little guys are notably high in zinc, copper, manganese, calcium and magnesium, giving your skin elasticity and glow, your bones strength, and lowering your blood pressure!

Fact! Sesame helps protect you from the impact of alcohol on your liver, contributing to healthy liver function (although we’re not suggesting that eating a handful cancels out that extra glass of wine!).

Sunflower seeds

Where are they grown? Sunflower seeds have been knocking around the block for a while. They were one of the first plants ever to be cultivated in the United States and have been used for more than 5,000 years by the Native Americans.

What’s so special about them? Sunflower seeds aren’t just pretty faces; sunflowers are actually good at absorbing toxins, too. Hence planting sunflowers can help soak up nuclear radiation!

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E and a very good source of copper and vitamin B1.

Fact! Shelled sunflower seeds are one of the most popular snacks in Russia – you can buy them outside metro stations in small newspaper cones.

P-p-p protein

Now, protein has certainly been enjoying its time in the limelight recently. But what’s all the fuss about? In short, protein isn’t just essential for a healthy diet; it is essential for a healthy life. Protein is found throughout the body: in muscle, bone, skin, hair and virtually every other body part or tissue. There are literally thousands of different proteins that make us who we are. In fact, the only other substance more plentiful than protein in the body is water. But what does protein actually do? We need protein to grow, heal and carry out almost every chemical reaction in the body. Basically, we need it to live.

So, where can I find protein?

Like simple and complex carbohydrates, proteins are absorbed at different rates in the body. Whey protein is known for being quick to digest and this is why many people choose to have it before or after exercising – helping those muscles to recover and grow. On the other hand, casein, the primary protein in milk, releases its amino acids slowly. This means it is particularly beneficial when consumed in the morning, between meals and at bedtime. There are a lot of protein powders/bars/balls ( just about anything!) on the market that are designed to be a quick and easy way to get protein into your body, particularly for people who work out a lot. However, we shouldn’t forget that there are some fantastic natural sources of protein too, like eggs, fish, meat and, of course, nuts.

Ok, so we know this is a nut butter cookbook and nuts are our “thing”, but they really are a fantastic source of natural protein too – promise! Obviously, different nuts have different nutritional values and so some contain more protein than others. Almonds rank up there near the top, with cashews, pistachios and peanuts also packing a healthy punch of protein.

How much protein do I need in my diet?

This is a bit of a tricky question as it really depends on how active you are, as well as a few other factors. Basically, we need a small amount of protein to survive, but we need a lot more to thrive. Based on the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI), adults in the UK are advised to eat 0.75g protein for each 1kg they weigh. However, many people eat significantly more than this, especially if they exercise frequently. That being said, there are many medical experts who warn against excessive consumption of protein – we told you it was a minefield – so it’s important to judge your intake against your own body and the amount of activity you do.

Good fats vs bad fats

Let’s talk about fat, baby* Let’s talk about you and me Let’s talk about all the good things And the bad things that may be

*adapted from 1990s pop sensation Salt-N-Pepa

Being up-front and honest, nuts contain fat. STOP. Don’t throw the book in the bin. Let us explain. There are good and bad things about fats (to paraphrase Salt-N-Pepa).

Yes, some “bad” fats – eaten in excess – can be found guilty of giving you a shock when you stand on the bathroom scales, but “good” fats, like omega-3, can actually help fight fatigue, keep you in a good mood and improve your brain power.

Now, without getting too technical (nobody wants a science lesson from a cookbook), there are four main groups of fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans fats and saturated. Different foods sit within each group.

“Good” fats

Monounsaturated

Avocados

Olives

Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)

Nut butter (containing just nuts and salt)

Polyunsaturated fats

Walnuts

Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds

Flaxseed

Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)

Soy milk and tofu

“Bad” fats

Trans fats

Commercially baked goods (e.g. cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins)

Packaged snack foods (e.g. crisps, sweets)

Solid fats (e.g. margarine)

Fried foods (e.g. chips, fried chicken, chicken nuggets)

Saturated fats

Processed meats like sausages and burgers

Hard cheeses

Fatty meat

Palm oil

Trans fats

Artificial trans fats can be found in many processed foods, and are generally speaking ones to avoid as much as possible.

Saturated fats

Don’t be afraid of all saturated fat. The saturated fat in nuts is different to the saturated fat found in pizza, for instance. And just as saturated fat varies according to its source, the effect of saturated fats on blood cholesterol can vary from person to person, depending on genetics and other health factors.

Generally speaking, though, it’s all about applying a bit of common sense to the way you eat. You don’t need to cut out fats from your diet; instead try to replace some of the “bad” fats with a few more of the “good” ones, and you’ll be flying.

A quick word on palm oil

On all our packaging we say “Absolutely no palm oil” and we get asked all the time what the deal is with it.

Palm oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree and originates in western Africa, but flourishes anywhere where heat and rainfall are abundant. The world’s biggest producers and exporters of palm oil are Indonesia and Malaysia.

It can be used in quite literally everything and anything. If you check out the ingredients in products you’ll start seeing it popping up in all sorts of places, from lipstick to instant noodles and peanut butter.

In the case of peanut butter, palm oil is used as an emulsifier – a fancy word for saying it keeps ingredients stuck together. Peanut butter with palm oil is much thicker than natural peanut butters without it, which will have a runnier texture and will often have oil sitting at the top.

The problem with palm oil is that the industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. Sadly, at least half of the world’s orangutans have disappeared in the last 20 years, with over 80% of their habitat either depopulated or completely destroyed as a result of this deforestation.

Work is being done by organizations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, who work with plantations to ensure palm oil is sustainable and complies with various globally set standards.

The other downside is that palm oil has higher levels of saturated fats compared to other vegetable fats, and studies have shown a link between the intake of palm oil and high levels of cholesterol.

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