The Green Grocer: Peace, joy, and spiced nuts



It’s fitting that I’m writing this week’s column on a napkin because this time of year I find myself dwelling on simplicity more than usual. It’s not my fault! It’s the omnipresent (and usually insidious) advertising, with its inherent message of excess, that does it. It pushes me over the edge, and what I’ve found while dangling on the other side is clarity and reassurance, a reminder that peace and joy are born of simplicity, and the gift of “enough” is one worth giving and receiving.

I suppose I talk about this all the time when I talk about cultivating the pleasure of taste. When we are able to delight in what food has to offer, we open the door to simple fulfillment, we welcome “enough.” But it somehow seems even more pressing this time of year.

Maybe the best way I can explain it is through an anecdote that’s not even my own. A gentleman 50 years my senior once told me of the pure joy he felt as a youngster on Christmas Day when he found waiting for him a few oranges and a bag of spiced nuts. If only oranges and spiced nuts were all it took to bring us all such joy.

Rosemary Spiced Nuts
By Peter McQuaid at

• 1 pound unsalted mixed nuts
• 1 tablespoon melted butter
• 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or granulated sugar
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, toss nuts with butter and spread out onto a baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

While nuts roast, mix rosemary, sugar, cayenne and salt in a bowl. Add roasted nuts and toss. Serve warm or cool.

Sugar and Spice Nuts

• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon chile powder
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
• 1 large egg white
• 2 cups raw cashews (9 ounces)
• 2 cups raw almonds (9 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 300°. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar with the salt, chile powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the cashews, almonds and spiced sugar and toss.

Spread out the nuts on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring once, until browned. Let the nuts cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally.


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