Nuts.com Products (and Recipes)!

Hi guys! I was so excited to receive an email from a representative from Nuts.com asking me to tell you all about their great products. They were kind enough to send me a couple of their products to try out (yay free stuff!).

First up, black walnuts!

Now, black walnuts are like regular walnuts, but with a much more unique flavor. They’re also full of great health benefits; they contain more protein per ounce than any other tree nut, and they are very low in saturated fat, and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (those are the good ones, they help maintain good cholesterol!). They come shelled and ready to go in the package, and I decided to make some pumpkin muffins and toss some of these in there! (I apologize for the lower quality photos, I forgot to bring my nice camera home so I had to make do with my iPhone camera)

These were really good! We used some pumpkin muffin mix that we got from Trader Joe’s. The muffins were fluffy and moist, and the walnuts provided a great crunch (I also added some chocolate chips, because a little chocolate never hurt anyone right?) I liked the walnuts in the muffins, but be warned, they are a little bit of an acquired taste. I probably wouldn’t eat them by themselves, but the unique flavor works pretty well when you put them in other things.

Next, pine nuts!

I never thought to eat a pine nut on its own, but I tried one and it actually tasted really good! It kind of reminded me of a sunflower seed. They have a great flavor that goes well in any kind of dish, and toasting them brings out even more nutty flavor! Like the black walnuts, these are also high in monounsaturated fats, which are great for heart health. They also contain nutrients that naturally increase energy levels (because who couldn’t use a little energy boost?). Anyway, the first thought that popped into my head for how to use these in a recipe was in pesto. But no, that’s too expected. I had to do something different. I didn’t want to blend them up into a sauce—I wanted to showcase them and their flavor. So I decided on a pasta dish with fresh tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, and basil. Heres the recipe! (Again, low quality pic, sorry 😦 )

Pasta with Tomato, Artichoke, and Pine Nuts

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 package Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti (or whatever spaghetti you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • one 8.5oz can of artichokes, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • a little bit of oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan

How to make it:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté the pine nuts and garlic until light brown (I didn’t use all the oil for this step, just enough to toast the nuts and cook the garlic)
  3. Add the rest of the oil, tomatoes, artichokes, basil, and oregano and let it simmer for a little bit, and season with salt and pepper
  4. Toss in the pasta, and serve with grated parmesan

This really was such a delicious, fresh dish, and it allowed you to really taste the pine nuts. I can’t express how much toasting the nuts brings out the nuttiness; it was just so good. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my regular lineup.

Finally, the kind folks at Nuts.com sent me some gluten free snacks to try out. I got roasted chickpeas, veggie chips, and half-popped popcorn.

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The chickpeas were really really good. I’ve been wanting to give chickpeas a try as a healthier alternative for a snack, and they exceeded my expectations. I’ve been sitting in my dorm snacking on them since I got them. I think they taste kind of like a cross between a peanut and a sunflower seed. It’s great. Some friends on my floor had a little sampling session in the hallway and they liked them too! So the chickpeas have been college student approved. Now the next two snacks were kind of a toss up; I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about them. I’ll talk about the veggie chips first. I didn’t think I was going to like them that much. Well, correction, I knew I would like the sweet potato chips, I wasn’t sure about the carrots, squash, taro, or green beans. Yes, I said green beans. Someone made green beans into chips. And surprisingly, I liked them. And everything else in it for that matter. They each have a unique flavor, and I really like it. As for the half-popped popcorn, the name is literal—it really is only popped halfway. I was imagining the weird pieces of popcorn that don’t get fully popped when you microwave the bag. But these were not that. They are delightfully crunchy in just the right way. I really enjoyed them! I’m happy to have these great snacks as options for hanging out in my dorm. I might just have to order more when I run out!

I’m so happy that I got to try these products, and a big thank you to Nuts.com for sending them to me! They’re definitely worth a try!

Although I was not paid for this review, I received free samples of Nuts.com products. However, everything I’ve said in this review is my honest opinion and reflects my own personal experiences.

Graduation!

Guess who’s high school’s newest graduate? This girl!

graduation

I’m so happy to finally be done! I am free. I made it. It doesn’t quite feel real yet; it’s still sinking in that I am now a college student, not a high school student. I have New Student Orientation at UDel in less than a week. I keep having to stop and remind myself that this is actually happening and I’m not dreaming!

Anyway, after the graduation ceremony, which was very nice, I was faced with the difficult decision of where we would go for our celebratory dinner. Actually, it wasn’t that difficult—kind of a no-brainer really—Earth Pizza! I got the Four Cheese Sundried pizza, which had their special cheese blend, goat cheese, parmesan, sundried tomatoes, and (extra) roasted garlic. And let me just say, pizza is the best celebration. It was delicious! I also mixed it up and got the Chicken Tenders as an appetizer and those were awesome. But since I’ve already reviewed Earth Pizza and shared my dear love for it, we’re gonna talk about the delicious food we had at my graduation party.

So on Sunday, my family and I had a little party to celebrate with everyone. And obviously the ever important part of having a party is what food to serve. Since we all know I have a  slightly obsessive love for pasta, that is obviously what we had to make! We made penne vodka, which consisted of the two very difficult steps of cooking a bag of Tinkyada penne, and pouring Victoria Vodka Sauce over it. A lot of work, I know. My mom also grilled up some chicken and made a nice little salad to have with it. It all was wonderful!

And now, even more important, dessert! My mom made one of my favorite cakes, Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry Shortcake always feels so summery and fresh and light to me. And it’s always delicious! For the cake, we used Wegman’s Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix. All you need is 4 tablespoons softened butter, a large egg, and 2/3 cups of milk. Then just cream your butter and 1/2 a cup of the cake mix with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, then add the rest of the cake mix, egg, and milk, and combine it all together.  Then pour it up in the pan of your choosing (we used a big 9×11 pan since we were serving a bunch of people) and bake it for 35-38 minutes in a 350° oven. After the cake is totally cooled, it’s time for the topping! We whipped up our own fresh whipped cream to put on the cake (which is seriously a hundred times better than the stuff in the can). All you have to do is use about 8-10 ounces of heavy cream, about a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and powdered sugar to taste and whip it with an electric mixer. I could literally just eat this all day straight out of the bowl. It’s just heavenly. So after you’ve resisted eating it all before it even hits the surface of the cake, spread it all over the top evenly. Then slice some strawberries and lay them all over on top of the whipped cream!

gluten free strawberry shortcake

Another option for this cake assembly would be to make two smaller round cakes and put them on top of each other with whipped cream and strawberries in between and on top. No matter how you put it together, it’s going to be amazing. I am crazy for this cake. I’m literally eating a leftover slice as I write this. It somehow feels like a healthy version of cake, probably because it’s a little lighter with the whipped cream and fresh strawberries instead of a sweet, heavy frosting.

Overall, I celebrated my graduation with some pretty awesome food. And what better way to celebrate is there than with that? I can’t wait for this next chapter of my life at the University of Delaware. It’s going to be so exciting and new and fantastic! And I am so ready for it. I will now leave you with a picture of my decorated graduation cap that I love. 🙂

graduation cap

Just to let you guys know, next week I will be heading off to Europe for my cruise (YAY), and I’m not sure if I will be able to post anything in that time, so it may be a while til you hear from me next, but I can’t wait to share my stories from the trip!!