Hi, my name is Carolyn and I’m addicted to nuts. I definitely blame my genes. My maternal grandfather (may he rest in peace) loved nuts—the 5-pound tins we wrapped up for him for Christmas were his favorite gift.
My father loves them too, so much that when my parents are having a party my mom has to wait to fill the nut bowl until the very last minute lest my dad gobble them all up before the guests arrive. (When I’m at home I may or may not contribute to this problem as well….shhh.)
So the nut addict in me was thrilled when we started receiving bags of spiced nuts from my in-laws as stocking stuffers. I really didn’t care what kind—salt and pepper, curry, chile-laced—I ate them all. Little did I know that by eating one of my favorite snacks, I could be lowering my chances of heart disease since nuts are brimming with heart-healthy fats.
But that isn’t an excuse to eat them willy-nilly—those bite-size eats pack a caloric punch, so I need be careful about managing my portion size.
Related: Easy 100-calorie appetizers
When we put a Spiced Nut Trio on the list of recipes to develop for the latest issue of EatingWell, I jumped at the chance to work on them. I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make! It literally takes 5 minutes to get a batch in the oven, then you can busy yourself with the rest of your to-do list—just don’t forget to give the nuts a stir every 15 minutes.
Here is the basic recipe plus three flavor combinations, including my favorite—curried cashews. But get creative and use your favorite flavors and varieties of nuts. Make one or more for a tasty cocktail-party nibble. Or try combining a few varieties in a divided gift tin or package them up into separate clear jars for the nut-lovers on your gift list. I know I’d be thrilled if they were tucked into my stocking this year (hint hint).
Master Recipe for Spiced Nuts
Makes: 6 cups
Active Time: 5 minutes | Total: 50 minutes | Make-Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 250°F.
2. Whisk liquid and seasoning in a large bowl. Add nuts; toss to coat. Divide among 2 large rimmed baking sheets; spread in an even layer.
3. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until dry, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
These curried cashews are impossibly addictive—every time we made them in the Test Kitchen they disappeared in a flash. If you use salted cashews, omit the added salt.
Liquid: 6 tablespoons lemon juice
Seasoning: 6 tablespoons curry powder, 4 teaspoons kosher salt
Nuts: 6 cups unsalted cashews
Per 2-tablespoon serving: 101 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber; 96 mg sodium; 111 mg potassium.
These spicy nuts were inspired by ones sold by street vendors across Mexico. If you can only find salted peanuts, omit the added salt. Add the maximum amount of cayenne pepper if you want an extra hit of spice.
Liquid: 6 tablespoons lime juice
Seasoning: 6 tablespoons chili powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 4 teaspoons kosher salt
Nuts: 6 cups unsalted cocktail peanuts
Per 2-tablespoon serving: 110 calories; 9 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 104 mg sodium; 141 mg potassium.
Chinese five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns; it adds subtle flavor to these pistachios. Look for it in the spice section at the market or with other Asian ingredients. Omit the added salt if you use salted pistachios.
Liquid: 6 tablespoons orange juice
Seasoning: 6 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder, 4 teaspoons kosher salt
Nuts: 6 cups unsalted pistachios
Per 2-tablespoon serving: 92 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 95 mg sodium; 164 mg potassium.