Macadamias, native to Australia, are characterized for their crunchy bite and buttery texture. The nut was introduced to the big island of Hawaii in the 1880s, where it soon began to be cultivated in earnest. Sugar plantations were converted into macadamia plantations, and now Hawaii is home to one of the largest macadamia producing companies in the world.
The macadamia nut is one of the highest fat-containing in its category. Its only competitor is the pecan! In general, nuts are low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats. Most nuts, including macadamias, are also high in monounsaturated fats. One ounce of macadamia nuts provides about 200 calories, 21 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein. They are particularly high in manganese and thiamin and provide omega 3 fatty acids. Manganese promotes antioxidant activity, proper bone development and also is involved with collagen in carrying out wound healing. Thiamin, known as B1, belongs to the B complex vitamin family and is a key factor in carrying out the breakdown of all macronutrients. It is also crucial to muscle contraction and nerve-signaling conduction. We hear about essential omega-3 fatty acids, which we can only obtain through diet, all the time. Omega-3 fatty acids are widely known for their properties of enhancing brain function and vision. Macadamia nuts contain about 55 mg of omega-3 per ounce.
In comparison to the peanut, the macadamia nut is higher in calories and fat and lower in protein. A study published in 2008 by the Journal of Nutrition indicated that eating macadamia nuts increased HDL and lowered LDL in men and women with elevated cholesterol levels.
Macadamias can be incorporated into your diet in many ways, including in confections like breads, cookies and chocolate. They can also be made into macadamia flour or oil. Keep your canine friends away from macadamias as they contain an unknown toxin that could affect their muscles and the central nervous system!
Check out the recipes below for a macadamia spread and a warm salad recipe.
Macadamia & Almond Butter
Recipe developed by Meaghan Mikulas
Makes one large jam jar
As I attempted to make macadamia butter it, uh … turned to soup. The macadamia nut has one of the highest fat contents of all nuts — so, to get a better consistency, I added almonds for great texture and not too much flavor, to get the macadamia to shine.
1 cup of toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup of almonds
1 tablespoon honey
Optional: salt (leave out if the nuts you use are already salted)
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds and process for about 2 ½ minutes. Almonds will be sticking to walls of bowl.
- Pause machine and add tablespoon of honey. Scrape sides of bowl and run for 30 more seconds.
- Pause again and add the chopped macadamia nuts. Process for 2 more minutes. Enjoy.
Note: You may be tempted to add oil to the mix to get the consistency going quicker or in order for it to not stick. Resist the urge! The macadamias have such a high oil content that, if you add oil, the final consistency will resemble soup. As the mixture heats up a little around the last minute, it sort of “breaks in,” if you will, and the magic happens.
Warm Arugula, Winter Squash & Macadamia Salad
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light: Cooking through the Seasons
Makes 6 servings
This warm salad should come with a warning, as it will tempt you for seconds! It’s great enough to have as a standalone weeknight vegetarian meal or as a great addition to seared scallops.
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces pappardelle pasta, broken in half
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
¼ cup of macadamia nuts, halved
2 cups baby arugula
½ cup Asiago cheese, coarsely grated
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
- Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray and place butternut squash in an even layer on tray. Bake at 475 for 25 minutes, turning twice.
- While squash is in oven, boil pappardelle pasta according to package directions. When done cooking, strain.
- Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic, sage and macadamia nuts; cook for 3 minutes and stir frequently. Add drained pasta, mix well to coat everything. Take off heat, set aside.
- Once squash is cooked, take out and let cool for 10 minutes and then add to pasta mixture.
- Lastly, in a large salad bowl place arugula, asiago, salt and pepper. Add pasta mixture and toss. While tossing add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.