Chestnuts – Holiday Treat and Good For You, Too!

By: Donna Quirk RD LD MBA at LMC

chestnuts
Have you ever tried a roasted chestnut? I never had until yesterday when one of my fellow dietitians offered a sample. It was very good but I have to admit, not what I expected. But, more on that in a minute…

Chestnuts have an interesting nutrition profile that does not resemble other nuts like almonds and walnuts.

A one ounce serving is around 4 chestnuts and provides 60 Calories, 3.4 g Protein, and 0.6 g Fat. The fat is much lower than other nuts and is ideal for a low fat diet. Chestnuts do have starch but relatively little simple sugar. This makes them a good alternative to potatoes. They are a good source of fiber, gluten-free and are the only nut with Vitamin C. Chestnuts are virtually salt-free and a very good source of potassium. This is a benefit to all of us particularly if you are trying to control your blood pressure.

So are you ready to try Chestnuts? You can prepare them in a variety of ways.

First, this important tip. It is VERY IMPORTANT to cut the shell to prevent the nut from exploding while cooking. You can either cut a slit across the face of the nut or a cross into the flat end.

Baked Chestnut on Right

Baked Chestnut on Right

To bake: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chestnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 15–20 minutes or until shell split opens.

To microwave: Place chestnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cook, uncovered on High (100%) for 4–6 minutes or until flesh is tender.

To roast, grill or barbeque: Cook, turning occasionally, in a pan over medium heat for 20–30 minutes or until shell split opens.

Wrap the cooked chestnuts in a dishtowel for 10 minutes to provide steam which helps with the peeling process. Then remove outer shell and inner skin while still warm (they’re tricky to peel once cooled).
3971030-chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire---well-barbe
What I didn’t expect about the chestnut is that it has the texture of a firm potato and has a sweet taste that reminded me of a sweet potato, pumpkin, or acorn squash.

Chestnuts can be eaten freshly roasted as a snack, added to bread stuffing, a stir-fry or a risotto and even ground as a gluten-free flour replacement for baked treats.

So, instead of singing about Chestnuts roasting on an open fire why not give them a try!

Reference: Nuts For Life http://www.nutsforlife.com.au

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