Chestnuts Aren’t Just for Christmas

Many of us think of chestnuts as a Christmas treat. You might get given them as a gift, buy them from a street fair or make them as a seasonal specialty. While we love singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, cooking chestnuts doesn’t have to be complicated. They don’t have to be saved for special occasions, and can be very healthy!

Chestnuts usually only appear raw in their shells in supermarkets around the holidays. However, they can often be found pre-roasted and peeled in sachets in odd places around the store all year-round. One person on our team has many family recipes that use them, so she’s an expert in finding them. Because she makes soups and meatloaves with them often, they are part of her standard grocery list. She said stores often have them in the Asian or kosher sections. Additionally, Walmart sometimes has them, Costco sometimes has them in stock and she has bought them from the World Market area of Bed, Bath and Beyond. If all else fails, they can be purchased on Amazon.

Chestnuts are a tree nut and aren’t related to water chestnuts. If you are allergic to tree nuts, you should avoid chestnuts. While they are quite high in carbs, they contain fiber. And, they are lower in calories than most nuts as they are low in fat. They also contain 15 to 20 percent of your daily vitamin C — even after they have been roasted. One ounce of roasted chestnuts has 70 calories, 15 grams of carbs, 1.4 grams of fiber, 0.9 grams of protein and 0.6 grams of fat.

Chestnuts are rich in antioxidants and support heart health with magnesium and potassium. They contain tannic acid, which means people with liver or kidney problems should be wary about eating them. They also contain manganese, copper, vitamin B-6 and potassium. The high levels of vitamin C may aid the immune system. And, they may lower inflammation with the vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients they pack.

The complex carbs of chestnuts can give you energy without spiking your blood sugar because of the fiber. They have a GI of 54 and won’t impact your blood sugar when you pay attention to portion sizes. The fiber can improve gut health and may aid insulin sensitivity.

One of the best things about eating chestnuts is that they are easy and add more variety to your diet. They aren’t a nut we usually eat more than once a year at the most. Once you start to eat them and realize that they are available year-round, you might find you love them. They can be eaten as croutons in a salad, added to sauteed veggies, pureed into soups, turned into flour, chopped and put in meatloaves. When you look for recipes, the list goes on and on. They have a lovely creamy texture and mild flavor. Try them and see how great they are in the summertime!   

Banner image: Tijana Drndarski via Unsplash
May 20, 2021
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