When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Maple Spiced Nuts

Christmas preparations are now in full swing at our house. I've been having fun this week working on one of everyone's favourite parts of the holiday season: the delicious foods and special treats we'll enjoy with family and friends who come to visit. The boys have each put in their requests for which cookies and squares they hope will make the baking list this year, and I'm looking forward to recreating some of our family's best-loved traditional foods that evoke happy memories of Christmases past.

One of the treats that was always around in little bowls at Christmastime during my childhood was roasted mixed nuts. Everyone had their favourites (brazil nuts for my dad, cashews for my mom and me), and the salty snack was always great to munch on while we enjoyed drinks and laughs with relatives. This week I noticed a recipe for sweet and spicy nuts in the December issue of Chatelaine magazine, and it reminded me that I've long wanted to try making a roasted nut mixture of my own for the holiday season. Today I tweaked the ingredients of the magazine recipe to suit my own preferences and ended up with a pan full of fragrant and tempting snacks.

Maple Spiced Nuts

2 1/2 cups of shelled natural nuts (I used 1/2 cup each of almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened large flake coconut
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp ground cinnamon (I like to use Frontier organic cinnamon, which is especially flavourful)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 275 F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the nuts and the large flake coconut.

Place the coconut oil in an oven-safe bowl and set it in the oven to melt while the oven is preheating. Once the oil is liquefied, remove it from the oven and add the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice to the bowl. Whisk well to combine.

Pour the syrup and spice mixture over the nuts and stir to coat. Sprinkle the sea salt over the nuts and stir again. Spread the nuts out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, stirring once every 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow the nuts to cool before serving.

These roasted nuts are a perfect combination of maple sweetness and cinnamony spice, and I'll be happy to set them out in little bowls this holiday season so everyone can enjoy their favourites. (It's still cashews for me!) Maple spiced nuts would also make lovely homemade holiday gifts if placed in pretty glass jars tied with festive ribbon. Enjoy!

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