Reveling in Roasted Chestnuts

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

From the lyrics of Nat King Cole’s famous song to the image (and the smell!) of this beautiful snack being served up on city street corners, nothing says ‘holiday tradition’ quite like a roasted chestnut.

chestnutsWhich is why we are here today to celebrate National Roast Chestnut Day.

National Roast Chestnut Day is celebrated annually on December 14th, the very same day that ushers in the famed “12 Days of Christmas.”

It falls conveniently at the beginning of winter, just as roasted chestnuts eating is at its height.

But as we will see, even though the chestnut is inextricably linked with the holiday season, it is also a delicious, nutritional powerhouse that deserves to be embraced all year round.

What Are Chestnuts Exactly?

roasted chestnutsChestnuts are actually seeds that come from the chestnut tree.

The chestnut seed is slightly sweet and resides within a thick outer shell (known as a burr), which begins to open as the chestnut ripens.

The practice of roasting chestnuts is a centuries-old tradition, linked to the cold winter months when people gather together around the warmth of the fire.

Obviously, roasting chestnuts is not the only way to prepare them. Chestnuts make a flavorful addition to a myriad of delicious dishes—from soups and casseroles to stuffing and even pie!

The Chestnut: a Highly Underrated Seed

bowl of roasted chestnutsBesides having a rich history and being an extremely versatile cooking ingredient, chestnuts are an excellent addition to a healthful, plant-based diet, especially during the holiday season, a time of year famous for its unhealthful food temptations.

But the chestnut is a great food to eat all year round.

Full of vitamins and minerals, chestnuts are bursting with nutritional goodness including vitamin C, folate, potassium, copper, selenium and manganese.

How to Celebrate National Roast Chestnut Day

Here are two ideas for participating in National Roast Chestnut Day this December 14th.

  1. Dr. Rosane Oliveira and Holiday Roasted Cauliflower and ChestnutsRoast Chestnuts: You have probably sung about roasting chestnuts, but have you ever actually done it? This year, gather your friends and family and try roasting chestnuts together. It is a simple process that includes cutting an X in the shell of each chestnut (which will let the steam escape as they cook) then baking them with the X side up for 20-30 minutes in a 450°F oven (or over an open fire, of course!) When the shell breaks open, and the nut inside gets golden brown, remove them from the oven and peel while still warm.
  2. Try a Chestnut-Based Recipe: Whip up our chestnut-based recipe for Holiday Roasted Cauliflower and Chestnuts. You will taste chestnuts like you never have before!

And remember, no matter how wonderful it is to eat roasted chestnuts when it is cold outside, eating chestnuts is one tradition that you should carry on throughout the year!