Susan Jane Murray: Go nuts
Hazelnuts help the aged, says Susan Jane Murray, and they make a great fudgy slice for midnight munchies too
I call these grandpa nuts because they're wonderfully nourishing for our seniors and senioras. Here's why. Hazelnuts contain beta-sitosterol, a groovy compound shown to help benign prostatic hyperplasia.
This is doctor-speak for the numerous trips men over 60 take to the loo during the night. While benign prostatic hyperplasia is not harmful, it can be a darned nuisance. In a study published by The Lancet medical journal, patients given 20mg of beta-sitosterol three times a day showed a reduction in urinary frequency. Of course, this is significantly more beta-sitosterol than one hazelnut can provide, but nevertheless, it's one of many sources which can be easily included in grandpa's diet. Other sources of beta-sitosterol are soyabeans, brown rice, wheatgerm, pecans, avocados and sesame seeds.
Beta-sitosterol is also responsible for improving lipoprotein profiles -- HDL and LDL. But in order to avail of this nut's snazzy cholesterol-blocking compounds, you'll need to recruit the unsalted variety. Find them in all supermarkets and specialist food stores. And before you ask, Nutella and praline chocolates don't count. Nice try!
Fudgy Hazelnut Slice
Be warned. This fudgy hazelnut slice is terribly addictive. No need to hold back because it's nutrient-rich and swinging with goodness. Besides, you won't be breaking your Lenten promise. There's absolutely no chocolate, dairy or refined sugar in this recipe.
Diehard rawvolutionists soak the nuts in cold water for six hours before using them. This process makes nuts more digestible for children and easier to assimilate their minerals.
You will need:
1 cup whole hazelnuts (roasted is optional)
1/2 cup whole walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup ground almonds
4 tablespoons hazelnut butter
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, roughly chopped
Sea salt flakes
4 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon carob powder
2 tablespoons raw agave or runny honey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder or cinnamon (optional)
Briefly pulse the hazelnuts and the walnuts or pecans, whichever you are using, along with the ground almonds, the hazelnut butter, and the roughly chopped pitted dates in your Magimix or food processor for four seconds, no longer. You want broken, not pulverised, nuts. Hazelnut butter is the secret ingredient to help hold it all together instead of using fattening syrup or dairy butter. Taste to make your tail wag. If you like, add some sea salt flakes.
Line a loaf tin or plastic lunchbox with cling film. Press the mixture down firmly with a metal spoon or fingertips to about an inch in depth. It should stick together. If it doesn't, add more hazelnut butter or press harder into the mould. Freeze.
In the meantime, get going on the topping. You could easily cheat and melt some glorious dark chocolate over it. But this caramelly carob topping is a healthier alternative. It's messy, licky, sticky and healthy. What more could a gal ask for? Whip the tahini, the carob powder, and the raw agave or runny honey, whichever you are using, and some sea salt flakes into submission until the mixture turns glossy and gooey. Ground Chinese five-spice is optional and it adds a bit of depth if you like a spiced aftermath. A pinch of cinnamon is particularly beneficial to diabetics as it boosts sweetness and helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Play around with the taste. This is, after all, your treat.
Pour this lustrous beauty over your nut block, and return it to the freezer until it is set. When ready, it is best stored in the freezer or your stomach. It defrosts naturally in a matter of minutes. This is particularly handy for unexpected guests and midnight munchies.