Nuts, Seeds Provide Tasty, Nutritional Snack Food

So what is the difference between nuts and seeds? I am glad you have asked. A seed is defined as a “plant structure capable of producing a new plant.” So a seed is anything that can produce a new plant.  A nut is defined partially as a “hard-shelled dry fruit (as a peanut in the shell) or seed (as a Brazil nut) with an inner kernel.”  Or nut are seeds with hard outer shells. So a nut always contains a seed, but seed isn’t necessarily a nut.

One of the great pastime in the East of the Mediterranean is the consumption of all kinds of style and nuts.  Specialty stores roast various seeds and nut during the day, and like the smell fresh popcorn, it is hard to pass up a seed store in Damascus.  Any style of nut is available  from such stores-spicy, Indian style (with curry), old fashioned ( with salt) and blood pressure ( without salt), and even American style (with barbecue sauce).

The last time I went to Damascus, my sister-in-law, who lives in Boston, asked me to bring her a kilo of sun-flower seeds from the local market.  I said, “America is the birthplace of sun-flower seeds. Get them from Boston.”  My brother chimed in sarcastically, “She’s used to the sun-flower seeds that have been sitting in a barrel outside, collecting smog and other pollutants from the air.” That’s her favorite flavor.”

The kind of fat in seeds and nuts are polyunsaturated and some monounsaturated, which is good fat.  Seeds and nuts have no cholesterol and are high in protein, fiber and iron.  They are the best source of vitamin E and phosphorus, minerals that repair damaged skin.

Aside from the pure joy of munching seeds and nuts, the foods can be added to any kind of salad, benefiting its taste as well as texture.  Adding nuts to pilaf and bread improves the taste and nutrition value immensely.  Nuts and seeds are especially good ingredients in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Brown  and Wild  Rice Pilaf

serves 4

1        cup brown rice

1/2   cup wild rice

2       tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

2       cloves garlic, mashed

4      tablespoons olive oil

4       scallions, chopped

2       carrots, diced

1/2  cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/2   cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/2   cup toasted pistachio

salt and pepper to taste

-In a bowl, mix 1 tablespoon olive with the lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic and the lemon zest.

-Boil the wild rice and the brown rice separately until soft but not mushy.  Drain and mix together, and then toss in the lemon dressing.  Set aside.

-Heat the remaining olive oil in a pot.  Add the rest of the garlic, the scallionns and the carrots.  Stir and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes.

-Add the rice mixture and the seasoning.  Stir and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.

-Remove from the heat. Stir in the almonds, the pistachio, and sunflower seeds.  Adjust the seasoning, mix well and serve.

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