Amazing ways you never thought to use nuts

Nuts are one of those amazing foods that are great on their own, and if you can eat these tasty little morsels by the handful, you're not alone. Sure, you might know that it only takes a dash of almond milk to add a distinctive flavor to your morning coffee or a smoothie, but there are plenty of ways you never thought about using nuts. There are a ton of dishes that could benefit from a splash of nutty goodness, so let's look at some things any and every nut lover just has to try.

For a pie crust

Let's be realistic, and admit right now that no one ever chooses a piece of pie for dessert because they like the crust. You can change that, though, by making your pie crust out of nuts. Sweet as Honey has a few great recipes for making some nut-based pie crusts you can adapt for using with pretty much any filling. The first is a coconut cashew crust that has just a dash of vanilla, and your imagination is probably running wild right now. They use the second with their blueberry tarts, and it's a walnut and almond meal crust held together with coconut oil, egg, and vanilla extract. No piece of pie crust will be left behind again!

In a crust for your main chicken or fish

It's no secret we get stuck in a rut when it comes to making main courses, but grinding nuts into a crust is an easy way to mix it up with your favorite proteins. It's also a great way to get your fried chicken fix if you're trying to make your meals a little healthier, especially when you check out this recipe from Paleo Newbie. With the crunch of a nutty crust and coconut oil for frying, you'll have all the goodness of fried chicken with none of the guilt. You can do the same thing with pecans, and Good Dinner Mom has taken the guesswork out with this recipe that uses lots of spice. Prefer walnuts? Sally's Baking Addiction uses walnuts to crust chicken before cooking it in a dry white wine sauce and ending with a honey mustard glaze.

You try this with fish, too. Start with My Sequined Life's recipe for salmon crusted with macadamia nuts and coconut flakes, and you may never make boring old fish again. It's not just salmon, either — Kalyn's Kitchen uses pine nuts and Parmesan as a crust for white fish, and it's so tasty you'll wonder why it took you so long to try it.

For ravioli

When is the last time you were deciding what to make for dinner and looked at those packages of nuts? You need to do that more often, and if you love those evenings when you actually have time to make something complicated from scratch, you're going to love these chestnut and pear ravioli from Our Italian Table. You read that 100 percent right, and this recipe walks you through every step from making your own dough to preparing the filling and assembling your ravioli. It's not as complicated as you think, and it's a great way to spend an evening with someone! For the same idea with a different flavor profile try these spinach and pine nut raviolis from My Vibrant Kitchen.

If you can't find the time to make your own raviolis, you don't have to give up on this entire idea. Venturists uses pre-made cheese ravioli and tops them with a homemade walnut sauce that's so good you'll be forgiven for taking a shortcut. And we can't forget about dessert! L'Italo-Americano has a delicious recipe for dessert raviolis that are doughy cookies filled with almond paste and chocolate chips, the perfect end to any Italian meal. Saluti!

Cheese replacements

That's right, you can absolutely replace cheese using nuts, and this can be a game-changer for anyone with a dairy sensitivity. We're not just talking about cheese-like spreads, either (like this soft cashew "cheese" from the One Ingredient Chef), but things like this version of ricotta cheese that's made from macadamia nuts. It comes from Michelle Tam's cookbook Nom Nom Paleo, and according to Serious Eats, their skepticism was completely unfounded. The super-simple recipe actually does create a final product that has a texture just like a firm ricotta cheese. Happy Healing uses nuts to make their own take on a dairy-free cheese log, perfect for putting out on any party platter.

Believe it or not, Responsible Eating and Living has a version of mozzarella cheese that's made from almonds, and you can also use almonds to make a surprisingly cheese-like "cheese" wheel. Just check out this simple recipe for almond cheese from RawMazing, and you'll be putting this one out with some crackers at your next party. We didn't forget pistachios, either, not with Nest & Glow's recipe for a pistachio cheese that you can even grill up for a fun hot topping as well as a cold one.

In delicious hot drinks

Some evenings are suited for curling up with a steaming hot mug of something delicious, and there's no reason you need to stick with boring old stand-bys like hot chocolate. Gourmande in the Kitchen has come up with an amazing hot drink that combines the flavors of macadamia nuts, coconut milk, vanilla, and honey for a hot drink that'll be ready in just 15 minutes.

We've found a few nutty hot drinks that might just be something more, and while we can't attest to the magical, medicinal properties of these, we can promise they taste amazing. Vidya Living has an Ayurvedic tonic that starts with raw almonds and homemade almond milk, then calls for dates, honey, and spices. That's a sleep tonic anyone can get behind, and for something even more exotic, Local Milk and Wooden Spoon Herbs have teamed up to create a drink that's full of herbs and powders all mixed into a milk they made from walnuts. Regardless of your beliefs, it's still delicious!

Healthy dips and spreads

Eating healthy is tough, especially when you're faced with a craving for cheese, crackers, and a heaping helping of dip. There are so many that will ruin your diet, but you can use nuts to make your own healthy versions of your favorite dips and spreads. Love cream cheese but hate how it makes you feel? The Tofu Diaries has a dairy-free version that has the same texture as cream cheese but uses cashews to get it. Speaking of cashews, Educating Earthlings has a few different ways to make cashew dips, and their recipes lend themselves to experimentation.

You can use walnuts, too, like Blissful Basil does for this recipe for a walnut, red lentil, and carrot hummus. It's full of flavor with none of the bad stuff, just like Simple Vegan Blog's recipe for muhammara, a traditional Syrian dip that's super-delicious and super-spicy. It's made with walnuts, tomato paste, and cayenne powder, and you can definitely spice this one up to be as hot as you can handle!

Cheesecake

If cheesecake is one of your favorites, you can appreciate how many different options there are when it comes to finding something new. Chocolate and fruit are pretty standard cheesecake fare, but you can whip up something extra special with nuts, starting with Taste and Tell's white chocolate and caramel cheesecake topped with macadamia nuts. If you're looking for a light, clean cheesecake that's the perfect way to end a heavy meal, this is your cheesecake. For something just as light, check out Cocoon Cooks and this roasted almond and salted caramel cheesecake that has a base made from dates — there's plenty of dates in the caramel topping, too. And there's a cheesecake for pistachio-lovers, too! Ashlee Marie has a pistachio cheesecake that turns into a wonderful green color, and goes perfectly with the coconut, almond flour, and almond extract.

What's the first thing you think of when you think of a nutty dessert? If the answer is pecan pie, you're halfway to this recipe for pecan pie cheesecake from Chocolate Moosey. It's got all the sticky goodness of your favorite pie and all the cheesecake flavor, too, wrapped up in a single dessert that's sure to impress!

For a dessert tart

There's no shame in saying dessert is your favorite part of the day, and if you're always looking for something new to try, how about a dessert tart using your favorite kinds of nuts? There's plenty to choose from, and we can start with Apartment 34 and their chocolately, coconutty tart that calls for pistachios and almond flour for an awesome flavor combination. And if you already have almond flour on hand, try this honey-caramel almond tart from Healthy Aperture. It sounds delicious and tastes even better, and there's no way this honey-filled tart with a thick layer of almonds will be anything but a family favorite.

Walnuts are in everyone's home for the holidays, and this walnut, date, and cranberry tart from My Darling Vegan is the perfect way to use all of those autumn and holidays foods in one amazing dessert. Package these favorites — walnuts, cranberries, and dates — into a delicious tart, and it's guaranteed to be a favorite. Mixed nuts are another holiday favorite, and you'll need to use them for this nut tart from Saving Dessert. With assorted nuts mixed with the flavors from butterscotch and bourbon, this tart ends up looking almost too beautiful to eat… almost.

For a French toast casserole

Even if you love the flavors of French toast, getting the wrong texture can ruin your entire breakfast. Get rid of all the doubts when you add some nuts for a firm crunchiness that's going to completely transform your French toast game! Little Spice Jar has an awesome recipe for a French toast casserole that uses pecans or walnuts for its nutty crunch, and finishes off the flavor profile with bananas. It's not the healthiest breakfast in the world — it's filled with heavy cream — but you're already expecting that with French toast, right?

You can also try The Suburban Soapbox's recipe for a fruit- and nut-filled casserole made with brioche that'll stand up to all the cream you're pouring in, and Kristen Duke has put together a French toast recipe that combines cranberries and almonds for a breakfast casserole that's good enough to serve up at any brunch. You don't have to make it a casserole to use nuts in your French toast, and Love Grows Wild has a recipe for a super-elegant pecan crusted French toast that they serve up with a healthy helping of fresh fruit and some maple syrup. Breakfast never looked so good!

For nut flours

As any baker knows, you can never have too many fun ingredients in your kitchen cabinets. Nut meal and nut flours are a must for anyone who loves the flavor of nuts, and they can completely transform old favorites into something new! Using nut flours can be a little challenging at first, as you're not going to be able to just substitute it into some of your standard recipes. Today's Dietitian gives a great run-down on how to use nut flours, and the most important thing you need to know is that since they're gluten-free, you're going to have to use some recipes formulated for gluten-free baking if you want everything to come out perfect on the first try.

You can find things like almond flour and cashew flour in the store, but it can get a little pricey. Considering how easy it is to make your own — literally, all you need are the nuts — you should absolutely go the route of making it yourself. If you have any doubts, The Healthy Maven tells you everything you need to know about making nut flours and nut meal, and you can thank us later!