By contributor Debi Brummel

Thinking about making the Date Kisses recipe for the next potluck? Did you know you can get free nuts for the picking? Nanaimo’s native hazelnuts usually fall in late August and September, followed by walnuts in late September and October.

This historic coal town’s founding citizens planted what they needed to get their families through the wet winters; and especially in old neighbourhoods like Harewood.  Many are just left to feed the birds and squirrels these days; make friends with your nutty neighbours and work out a deal to harvest their unclaimed nutlets.


Examining the results of this year’s harvest.

Upon procurement, you will need to dry them out in their shells for storage. Place them in a paper bag in a warm spot beside the heat vent or woodstove for a while. They can also go into a dehydrator, or at the lowest temperature setting in the oven. After drying, the nuts can then be stored in jars, or shelled and stored in the freezer.  Some nutlovers like to roast their hazelnuts or walnuts to eat as snacks. I prefer to keep them raw for optimum nutrition; mine dry by the heat or dehydrate at 42 degrees Celsius. If light roasting or pan-roasting makes them taste better to you, go for it!

A word to the wise, however, nuts have enzyme inhibitors that make them hard to digest. The recipe below includes soaking the dried, shelled nuts. Soaking and (consequently) germinating, increases available nutrition. This process cleans the surface, neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, activates beneficial enzymes, easily digestible proteins, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, some immune boosting vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and iron. This also creates a more alkaline and easier assimilated, crunchy, rather than dense, nutmeat. One handful is about one serving and will keep you going when hunger sets in before mealtime, but eating more could fill you up, ruining your appetite, or even contribute to unwanted weight gain.

Here are two recipes, which can be used if you run out of cow’s milk (or decide you might be better off not drinking it since it is really for baby bovines and not you) or just want to try a new, dairy-free, vegan drink. Flavourings can also be added like carob, cocoa, or cinnamon as desired.