Teresa Cutter. Photo: Jason Ierace
I'm nuts about nuts. Most days you'll catch me snacking on a fair few handfuls of almonds at my desk or, when travelling, I pack a bag of oven-roasted nuts to have as a quick, portable meal. And it's not just because they're delicious. A 2011 study published in Diabetes Care found that replacing a high-carbohydrate snack with 50 grams (a handful) of nuts a day helped with glycemic and lipid control for people with type-2 diabetes. The study also found that a handful of nuts a day helped to control and reduce weight because of its effect on reducing hunger and food cravings.
I love using nuts in my recipes. They make the perfect base for most of my gluten-free baking, such as pumpkin bread, chocolate cake, cookies and banana fritters (the latter are generously crumbed with almonds, honey and spices before being placed in the oven).
I also like making my anti-inflammatory dukkah, which combines roasted macadamia nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, turmeric and ginger, and makes a simple vegetable dish or salad sing. Nuts can also add flavour and crunch to your breakfast. A power porridge made from grated fresh apple, organic rolled oats, linseeds and hazelnut is a fave.
Chocolate olive oil cake. Photo: Paul Cutter ASC
For my DIY trail mix, I choose cashews, which are high in tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for making us feel good, as well as pistachios and almonds, which arehigh in the minerals potassium and magnesium, helping to nourish the nervous system when under stress.
Chocolate olive oil cake
This is the perfect way to indulge in a delicious blend of super foods. This cake is power-packed with antioxidants to boost energy.
• 2 1/2 cups almond meal
• 1/2 cup cocoa powder
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 3 organic eggs
• 1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup almond milk
• 1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Combine almond meal, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl. Add eggs, olive oil, almond milk and honey. Mix well to form a smooth batter.
Spoon into a 20cm round baking tin lined with baking paper to prevent sticking. Alternatively, grease the tin with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool completely. (It's okay if the inside is a little moist when you remove the cake as it will create a lovely texture inside.) Serve alone or top with home-made ganache.
To make ganache Heat 1/2 cup double cream in a pot until almost boiled. Remove from the heat and add 100g dark chocolate (chopped into pieces). Rest chocolate for 3 minutes in the hot cream, and then stir until combined and smooth. Spoon over the cake.
Hero ingredient: cold pressed extra virgin olive oil This is a heat-stable, all-purpose oil, great for most cooking purposes including sautéing and baking, as well as for making delicious dressings. And it's good for you - a study published in 2004 found that regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil in the Mediterranean diet helped to reduce blood pressure.