Is it just me, or is nutrition way more fun to read about when foods come to life and share their own stories? Whilst writing my first book; Periods, Poo & A Glorious You, personifying our daily bread (literally) instilled me with a sense of trust that this technique would give my art a point of difference.

Holding space for foods such as wheat to tell his own story felt a lot less preachy than me quoting studies and gloomy statistics about farming methods and the potential immunological consequences of gluten consumption.

Today, our most underrated pantry staples; nuts and seeds, will take to the stage and humble brag about their diverse nutritional glory. The line up? Cashmere Cashew will kick us off, followed by Alistair Almond, Pepito Pepita, Tasha Tahini and Hazel Nut. Wally Walnut will conclude our open mic event. Please join me in welcoming Cashmere to the stage.

Hey y’all, Cashmere Cashew here. Sometimes I’m raw, others I’m salty and then there are days where I’m totally cooked. I am an amazing source of blood-boosting iron and contain oodles of muscle-relaxing magnesium. I am rich in fibre and known as a pre-biotic, meaning that in addition to supplying you with food, I also feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Enjoyed a glorious dump lately? You likely have me to thank for it. Happy bowel flora equals toilet-time poophoria. And yes, when I’m not jazzing up salads or covering Peanut Butter’s sandwich spread shift, I write poetry. I could stay and boast all day about being the lowest fat nut around, but I’m running late for my date with a chicken stir-fry. Over to you Alistair.

Howdy friends, Alistair Almond is the name. Though I doubt I need introduction. After peanut butter, I’m the second most popular nut butter (not to be confused with butt butter, autocorrect) and taste sensational smeared on apple wedges or gluten-free toast with blueberries and toasted coconut flakes. In my un-blended (pre-butter) state, I am incredible sautéed in tamari sauce and sprinkled on salads or lightly roasted and enjoyed as a mid-afternoon snack. I’m rich in bone-building calcium and the antioxidant vitamin E. I best now hand things over to Pepito as I’m due at the dairy, it’s time for me to be milked so that tomorrow’s lactose-intolerant caffeine addicts can have their lattes and drink them too.

Hola (hello in Spanish), my name is Pepito Pepita and nut-free folk sing my praises. Where almond meal is a no go, you can use Pepita meal (ground pumpkin seeds). Nut-free school policy? No sweats, I’m a seed and legal as can be – unless your school is also seed-free, in which case I’m best used as an after-school treat. I’m dandy in trail mix with almonds and sultanas and if you’ve never sautéed me in sticky coconut aminos with raisins, you haven’t lived, my friend. I’m amazingly rich in zinc (more so than any other plant food – read that again) and am loaded with protein to pacify the vegan antagonists that ask in a judgy tone; ‘where do you get your protein from?’ (from the seeds of a winter squash, duh!). And now, let me hand over to my partner in seedy crime, Tasha Tahini. Over to you, amigo.

Open sesame … I mean, hi there. I’m Tasha Tahini, a creamy paste made from blended sesame seeds. I am a knock-out source of calcium (move over Alistair) and a rather generous source of iron (take that Cashmere). I lend my buttery goodness to savoury wonders such as the unrivalled hummus dip, as well as desserts like the middle eastern delight we call halva. I come in three varieties; hulled (my outer casing removed – this is as close to nudity as we get here in the plant world), unhulled (take me as I am, skin and all) and black (made from black sesame seeds because this is 2020 and if you haven’t caught wind of the hashtag yet #blackseedsmatter). If you do nothing else this week, mix me with molasses and eat our iron-rich synergy by the spoonful; anaemia be gone.

“Tasha, the vegans of Instagram are on line one … something about the green goddess salad dressing contract that you signed”. *Tasha exits to deal with her beautified employees*

Now that Tasha is off tending to her baby salad greens, it’s my time to shine. Hi, I’m Hazel Nut. You likely know me from my long-time professional partnership with cocoa, skim milk powder and palm oil. What you may not know is that even without the chocolate connotations, I make a mighty fine butter on my lonesome. Try pairing plain hazelnut butter with ripe pear slices – dreamy. I’m also a beauty with roasted pumpkin or baked sweet potatoes. When blended fifty-fifty with shredded coconut and water, I make a delicious milk alternative for those who feel that almond milk is a wee bit 2013. I’m a wonderful source of skin-softening fatty acids and another bone-building nutrient; manganese. I best run, I have a press conference booked where I’ll be talking to the media about the studies linking my nutritional benefits to a decreased risk of heart disease. Over to Wally.

Greetings, my name is Wally Walnut; hero of the infamous Waldorf salad and the only nut to boast a news-worthy amount omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like (or are allergic to) oily fish, I (along with my seedy companions Inca Inchi, Chia, Flax and Hemp) will gladly be your plant-based omega-3-rich companions. It’s no secret that I make any good salad great. What you may not know, however, is that I’m insanely tasty sprinkled on porridge with berries and honey and when blended into a butter with cashews and pecans, I am a creamy dream come true (don’t believe me? Try it for yourself).

The time has come to round off this nutty discussion. I hope that today’s open mic has you feeling inspired by and in awe of us humble botanical superstars. We simply ask for the credit that our crunchy (or creamy, in the case of pastes and butters) beings deserve. No more leaving half-eaten packets of us in the back of your pantry. Bring us back to life with a gentle roasting or buttery blend, and we’ll jazz up your meals in the ways we know best.


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