Being a food lover with close to zero control over indulgences and weight gain, there is always a constant battle with guilt and gratification. If I eat something healthy, then the next meal is definitely unhealthy as if to offset the good part. Not that I am on self-destruction mode (though my cholesterol readings beg to differ), I am somehow too soft on myself when it comes to the excesses of gastronomy.

But at the same time, I do have a few good habits, like eating nuts. No, not overindulging in them, of course. Eating the good way. A handful a day. Nuts have that allure of old world sincerity and charm. That nothing has changed, the food we eat is not contaminated, the poultry we eat is not injected with hormones, the water we drink will not go dry anytime soon. Everything seems rosy when I eat nuts. Because they are the real stuff. Know what I mean? I haven’t heard of shoddy practices in producing dry fruits. They may exist, but I can happily turn a blind eye and not google it!

I mean I can’t imagine a life without those nutty moments, the woody undertones on the tastebuds, the idleness that comes from cracking them open, the sense of ecstasy on having a tiny morsel after fidgeting with the shell, the crunch of small bites and big joys.

Nuts are those primitive remnants of memories that exist in my mind ever so fresh. Almonds. They remind me of an entire childhood ritual spent eating 5 peeled almonds daily in the morning that were soaked overnight. They remind me of my pet who I would pamper by feeding him 2-3 of them daily and he would gleefully chew on them as if they were made of rubber. Almonds also remind me of that Kashmiri vendor who would come to Delhi every winters to sell Cashmere shawls and bring me almonds, fondly calling me his lil brother.

Walnuts. They remind me of my granny’s house where we all cousins would sit with a sack full of walnuts on a summer day and figure out how to crack them open. From slippery hammers to knives to tongs to teeth, all would be tried. The most successful formula was placing them on the corner of the door in the groove and close the door. Easiest and simplest.

Cashews. They remind me of college years when I started drinking, and friends would bring along salted & roasted cashews. You cannot stop at a handful for sure! And I keep buying cashews originating from different parts of the world to gauge the difference. The best ones though are from Goa. Raisins. Aah, those sweet kernels of joy. They remind of Diwali where every second gift received would be a dry fruits pack. And I would place equal number of raisins for every other nut I would have. Pistachios were expensive, but salty and tasty.

Hazelnuts. Well, they used to remind me of Ferrero Rocher, but not anymore. So did Pecan Nut that was thrown generously on my sinful Pecanbon at Cinnabon bakery. Chestnuts were not on my radar until I shifted to Dubai. At Global Village in winters, roasted chestnuts are the warmest thing to cup and eat, sold at many Turkish eateries. Ground nut, the poorest of ‘em all, would be seen at every corner of each neighbourhood of Delhi in winters. The vendors would place an earthen pot on the heap of ground nuts and place coal inside the pot to warm the nuts. We would always ask to fetch the nuts below the pot, and then an hour would be spent just cracking open the shell and eating the tiny nuts. One of the purest pleasures!

Now Saloni packs me a box full of mixed nuts every week which also includes Brazilian Nuts, Pine Nuts and Macadamia which I have lately started to like. When I eat these nuts, they also remind me of granny’s vermicelli (Sevaiya) where she would put lots of raisins, dried dates and almonds. In my teens, my mom would cook Gram Flour Pudding (Besan ka Halwa) laden with clarified butter (Ghee) and lots of almonds, cashew, raisins and pistachios which I would hog hot off the stove. She’d be happy that I had something healthy, and I’d be happy that I got a dessert.

Even my chocolates are not complete without nuts. My only preference for a chocolate is that it should be dark, and have nuts. Period. No more fuss. Having a sweet tooth, I have a natural tendency to eat sugary, nutty, chocolatey stuff. Knowing my fondness and weakness for it, Saloni makes incredible energy bars (Here’s the link for the recipe, a little cross-promotion doesn’t hurt) so that they keep a tab on my sugar rush and 4pm unhealthy snacking.

I remember working on promoting Hazelnuts in India, where I did couple of ads depicting hazelnuts in sensual avatar (here’s the link if you want to see the campaign). There was one line which was rejected by the client but I loved:

The taste of hazelnut would make you go weak at knees. But its nutrients wouldn’t let that happen.

I can’t even begin to stress on the health benefits of nuts, but to end this post, I can say only one thing: To do the naughty stuff, do the nutty stuff!