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Chestnuts: Health benefits and what to do with them

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            Chestnuts roasting in your kitchen oven...

Why should you eat chestnuts, besides the obvious reason that it will put a smile on your face as you go around the house singing, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." as your children roll their eyes (but secretly rejoice that you're thinking of Christmas already)...? Other than that reason? Well, there actually are some really good reasons to eat chestnuts.

Number one, for most Americans, is that they are incredibly low in fat. A 100 gram serving has only around 2 grams of fat. Given the low fat content they are obviously very low calorie nuts. Wow, who would have thought it, a low calorie nut?

How do they compare to other nuts?

Chesnut vs other nuts (dry roasted)
  Chesnuts peanuts almonds walnuts (not roasted)
serving size 100 grams 100 grams 100 grams 100 grams
calories 245 grams 585 grams 597 grams 654 grams
fat 2 grams 50 grams 53 grams 65 grams
protein 3 grams 24 grams 22 grams 15 grams
carbs 53 grams 22 grams 19 grams 14 grams
fiber 5 grams 8 grams 12 grams 7 grams

Their nutrition value is similar to brown rice.  They are also high in vitamin C, 100 grams contains 43% of the daily requirement, this amount of chesnuts also contains 5% of iron and 3% of calcium daily requirements.

So, how do you actually use them? Chestnuts don't keep well, you can store them in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 6 months before cooking them so, once you harvest them, you should cook and shell them as they store better cooked. To roast them slit the flat side with an X (see slide-show) and then bake in the oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes. You can also boil or steam them by cutting them in half and boiling for 7.5 minutes or steaming for 8-10 minutes.  A trick for popping them out of the shell before cooking is to cut them in half, then place in glass dish (single layer) and microwave for 60 seconds (can cover w/ moist paper towel).  If the mean doesn't come out of the shell easily microwave for 60 more seconds.  Cook as desired after removing from shell.

Here is a great website that has a list of recipes and uses for chestnuts like crepes, mousse, soups, sauces etc..

Personally, I like to just eat them as a snack, roasted or steamed. You can dip them in melted butter and lightly season but keep in mind that the fat content will be changed significantly.

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  • Alice 5 years ago

    Good, thorough article and information, Mary Ann.

  • Cherie Carlisle 5 years ago

    Good article, I was looking for more info on chestnuts. Where do you buy chestnuts? We do not have them in Wyoming!! I ordered some chestnuts from Williams-Sonoma to use in their recipe for Sausage, chestnut & mushroom dressing. I am going to make this chestut dressing for Thanksgiving. :)