I have to laugh at the ignorance and naïveté of my youth. When you grow up a certain way, it’s hard to imagine things any other way, until you venture out into the great big world on your own.
When I was growing up, the only nuts I knew about were peanuts. Shelled, unshelled, salted, unsalted, and of course, and in butter form. My mother used to fix me a big ol’ tablespoon of peanut butter for a midday snack, a habit I still continue today. I keep a jar in my desk at work, and casually lick away as I chip at my triple-digit unread emails in my Outlook. For home, I buy the jumbo size jar fit to feed a family of five, but it’s just me, myself and I.
I think the house was always stocked with peanuts because my parents were a fan. I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t a blue and yellow can of Planters peanuts in both the kitchen and living room. The speed with which my mother would put together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (cut diagonally) could make your head spin. I rarely eat bread anymore, but once in a while a craving for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich or PB&J sandwich hits me. When that happens, I reach into the freezer for Arnold whole wheat sandwich thins to defrost in my toaster oven.
Once I became an adult and was responsible for my own shopping, I strangely continued to buy only peanuts and peanut butter. Even though I read articles suggesting other nuts as snacks for different health benefits, I remained in my bubble. Honey Nut Cheerios was and still is my favorite cereal, but I never cared to know which nuts. I think I tasted almond milk before I ate an almond on its own. Of course I’d tasted other nuts, like as a topping on cakes or other desserts, but they were crushed and I didn’t know what I was eating. I once tried a Pepperidge Farm cookie simply because they had macadamia nuts. It was “ok.”
My late mother would not recognize her daughter today. Though far from a health nut (pun intended), I do my best to take care of myself. I’ve become a seed and nut fanatic (kinda). In addition to sunflower, flax and chia seeds, I snack on almonds or add them to my smoothies, chop walnuts to add crunch to salads, eat cashews by the handful or add them to butternut squash soup. Almond butter is one my favorite things in the world, as is cashew milk. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of all the nuts out there, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job of experimenting.