Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

You can make these as spicy and hot as you like, they are super crunchy and satisfying. These nuts are great party food and also make an awesome quick energy food. Add dried fruit for trail mix or keep some in your office for a quick pick-me-up. The following recipe is for Cajun Spicy Nuts, but you can use the same method to create Indian, Asian, Italian and BBQ flavor Sweet and Spicy Nuts. The spice combinations for the flavor variations are at the end of this post. You can also vary the kids of nuts or seeds you use. Cashews, hulled raw Sunflower Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hazelnuts, shelled Pistachios....really the combinations of seasonings, nut and seeds are endless. Have fun creating your favorite flavorful snack combination. These nuts make a pretty dandy gift, too.

Sweet and Spicy Cajun Nuts

3 C Nuts and/or Seeds (Pecans, Almonds, Pepitas)

Begin by soaking 3 cups of nuts - I used mostly pecans with some almonds and pepitas - for 1 hour to overnight. Drain and place on a kitchen towel to dry for a few minutes. Next put them in your dehydrator OR in the oven set to the lowest temperature (usually 170 degrees) and prop the door open with a wooden kitchen spoon. let the nuts dry and warm up in the dehydrator or oven like this for about 1/2 hour or so while you make the glaze.

4 T Raw Agave
2 T Date Molasses
2 T Coconut Butter

Mix together well in a small bowl until the coconut better is melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Next add your spice. I use "Cajun Seasoning" preferably without salt so that you may add your own, but salted works fine too, just don't add any additional salt.
Add the following to the Agave mixture:

Spice Mixture
1 T Cajun Seasoning
1 t Sea Salt (Smoked Salt is GREAT in this recipe)
1/2 t Cayenne (or more to taste - or for very mild heat omit)
1 t Smoked Paprika

Remove the warm nuts from the oven and place into a large bowl. Drizzle with the Agave Spice mixture and mix really well. Return the nuts to the dehydrator or cookie sheet and spread them out in a single layer. Put the nuts back in the dehydrator or oven - again propping the oven door open with a wooden kitchen spoon. Let the nuts dry for 4 or 5 hours if using the oven or 5+ hours if using the dehydrator.

Next - remove from dehydrator or oven, sprinkle with:

Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Date Sugar, Maple Sugar or whatever sugar floats your boat
Sea Salt (omit if you used a Cajun Seasoning that contains Salt)

Let cool. When you first remove the nuts from the dehydrator or oven they will seem soggy and sticky. In just a few (3-5) minutes, they will become crispy and crunchy - if not, return them to the dehydrator or oven for another hour or so. When cooled, store tightly sealed in glass jars.

*For conventional diet (not raw food) - the nuts will not digest as easily and you will lose some of the nutritional benefits (consider yourself scolded), but you can speed up this entire process by not soaking the nuts - just warm them in a 250 degree oven and drizzle with the syrup mixture - return them to the oven for 1-2 hours until they turn crispy when removed from the oven. They are delicious either way!

Spice Mixture Variations:
Curry, Cayenne and Black Pepper
Sesame Seeds, Tamari and Wasabi Powder
Rosemary and Sea Salt
BBQ flavor - Dry Mustard, Smoked Paprika and Sea Salt

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