Authors: Registered Dietitians
(HealthCastle.com) When you think of hazelnuts, does your mind leap straight to Nutella? That chocolatey spread actually contains more sugar and palm oil than it does hazelnuts. Fortunately, there are other great ways to enjoy these tasty nuts, which are generally found in the baking or bulk sections of the supermarket, and may be labelled with their alternate name, filberts. Even better, you can get your hands on farm-fresh hazelnuts and loads of hazelnut products just a short drive away in the Fraser Valley, where hazelnuts are grown locally.
Nutritional Benefits of Hazelnuts
Like many other nuts, hazelnuts offer loads of nutritional value. They are an excellent source of protein and are rich in fibre, as well as offering plant sterols and antioxidants. They are high in Vitamin E, copper, and manganese. In 2003, the American Food and Drug Administration approved the following claim for seven types of nuts, including hazelnuts:
"Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 oz per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Where to Buy Farm-Fresh Hazelnuts in BC
You may be able to find farm-fresh hazelnuts at your local farmers’ market, but if you want the real farm experience, you can make the short drive to the Fraser Valley to buy these local nuts straight from the farm. Some farms even offer u-pick options during harvesting season from late September to the end of October. Here are some local producers to visit - check before you go to make sure they have hazelnuts in stock at the time of your visit.
Canadian Hazelnut also offers hazelnut products, including roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut chocolates and candies, hazelnut flour and oil, and hazelnut butter (which, like peanut, almond, and other nut butters is a much healthier spread for your breakfast toast than the chocoaltey Nutella!).
How to Use Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts make an excellent snack on their own, but they can also be incorporated into your day-to-day cooking and baking.
- Salads: Roasted hazelnuts make a great addition to most salads, but are especially delicious in a salad made of bitter greens like endive, pears, and a touch of blue cheese.
- Desserts: As Nutella has proven, hazelnuts and chocolate are a great match. Try incorporating hazelnuts into cookies and cakes or using them as a topping for any chocolate dessert.
- Side Dishes: Chopped hazelnuts make a great topping for sweet or bitter vegetables, like squash, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and green beans.
- Stuffing: Chopped hazelnuts are a great addition to most stuffing recipes.
- Pesto: Try using hazelnuts instead of pine nuts for a unique take on pesto.