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Great Picnic Ideas: Pine Nuts

"pinenuts"Introduction

Hosting an outdoor picnic is a classic way to create a social event for all age groups to enjoy. A picnic is a great way for family and friends to lounge, enjoy the weather, and enjoy great food. Rather than eat fatty meats or fried foods laden in saturated fat, you can take a more natural approach to your picnic and enjoy recipes packed with flavor and nutrition.

What are Pine Nuts?

With a unique name that we usually associate with trees, you may ask yourself, “What are pine nuts?” Pine nuts are the edible seeds of harvested pine. Packaged pine nuts have been shelled and roasted for your enjoyment. Pine nuts can be enjoyed as a simple snack food, or used as an ingredient in numerous recipes for added nutritional value. You may find pine nuts in cuisine around the world, including American, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and East Asian recipes. The robust, nutty flavor adds a distinctive taste to main courses and side dishes. Pine nuts are also versatile enough for use in appetizer and dessert recipes.

Health Benefits of Pine Nuts

In addition to robust flavor and versatility, pine nuts offer excellent health benefits. Each pine nut represents a microcosm of nutrition and vitamins. For example, pine nuts are among the best sources of protein available, without the added risks associated with animal fats. Pine nuts are a good source of essential vitamins, such as niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. The antioxidants found in pine nuts help with nerve function, blood circulation, and slowing the effects of aging.

Eating pine nuts may also improve your overall diet plan. Scientists have shown that pine nuts contain pinoleic acid, which helps you stay full longer. Pine nuts also contain lutein and beta carotene, two antioxidants essential for healthy eyes. Because nuts are full of protein and magnesium, this food provides an excellent source of energy for your muscles. Pine nuts have also been associated with longevity, meaning that people who eat pine nuts may lower blood cholesterol levels, which helps prevent cardiovascular and other heart-related diseases. With all of the benefits associated with pine nuts, it is no wonder that you will want to stock up on pine nuts in your kitchen. By purchasing pre-packaged pine nuts, you will have a convenient supply for snacking or cooking. Whether for gourmet meals or outdoor festivities, pine nuts are a great component to any recipe plan.

Pine Nut Recipes

Try the following recipes for delicious and healthy picnic food ideas:

Healthy Macaroni Salad
Ingredients:
2 cups of whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles (raw)
1 cup low-fat mayonnaise (or comparable salad dressing)
2 tbsp honey mustard
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 small red onion, chopped
2 stalks of fresh celery, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup pine nuts, chopped
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
¾ cup mild shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Boil noodles in large pot for 12 minutes, or follow the package directions. When ready, drain noodles and allow to cool.
2. Combine mayonnaise, honey mustard, sugar, and pepper into small bowl.
3. Once the noodles are completely cool, add celery, onion, spinach, nuts, and the mayonnaise mixture. Stir for a few moments until the items are combined.
4. Refrigerate until serving (the salad should be cold). Sprinkle with mild cheddar cheese right before serving and enjoy.

Delicious Deviled Eggs
Ingredients:
8 hard-boiled eggs (peeled)
¾ cup light mayonnaise
1 tbsp sweet onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp green onion or chives, minced
1 tbsp sweet relish
1 tbsp yellow or honey mustard
1 tbsp red paprika
½ cup pine nuts, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Slice each egg in half-length wise. Remove center yolks and set hard-boiled and set hard-boiled whites aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mash egg yolks and add mayonnaise, relish, mustard, onion, chives, and pine nuts. Mix well.
3. Carefully spoon in 2 tbsp of egg yolk mixture into each egg white half.
4. Refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle deviled eggs with red paprika right before serving for appearance or garish.

Southwestern Chicken Wraps
Ingredients
1 ½ cup corn kernels (cooked, drained, and cooled)
1 cup chopped tomato (fresh)
2 cups green lettuce, chopped
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 grilled skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped
6 whole-wheat tortillas
½ cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup pine nuts, chopped
Optional:
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup guacamole

Directions:
1. Lay 6 tortillas flat and divide chopped chicken evenly between the tortillas.
2. In a medium bowl, mix corn, tomato, bell pepper, pine nuts, vinegar, and oil.
3. Spoon corn mixture evenly over the chicken tortillas. Top with cheddar cheese and lettuce. If desired, add 1 tbsp of sour cream and 1 tbsp guacamole to each tortilla.
4. Fold each wrap carefully by starting from the bottom, folding in each side, and then folding the top end of the wrap to close. Serve.

Conclusion

Add variety and nutrition to your classic picnic using pine nuts. Using the Pine nut can add a robust flavor to a variety of appetizers, main dishes, snacks, and desserts. Adding pine nuts to your recipes also provides the health benefits of vitamins and nutrients with every serving. With this healthy treat, you can prepare delicious foods and create memories to last a lifetime.

Sally Overland is a cook in a well known restaurant in New York, and a mother of three.