Macadamia Nuts: Hawaii's Signature Food

Casual Kitchen had the good fortune to spend four months in Honolulu earlier this year, and this post is another installment in our series on the foods of Hawaii. You can find all of the other posts in this series under the label Hawaii.
You can't help feeling a little depressed when an extended vacation comes to an end and you have to return to your regular life. That's how our return to New Jersey several weeks ago felt to us. The four months we spent in Honolulu were by far the fastest four months of our lives.

But we did bring home with us memories of great Hawaiian foods. And perhaps the key signature food of Hawaii is the glorious macadamia nut.

Any visitor to Hawaii can find both Mauna Loa and Hawaiian Host brand macadamia nuts in stores all over the islands. They're delicious and extremely popular as souvenirs, but be prepared to get separated from your money--a smallish 4.5 ounce canister of nuts can cost $3.00 to $4.00, which works out to about 20-25c a nut.

It sounds odd to say this, but that high cost is actually a blessing, because it means that macadamia nuts can still be grown competitively and profitably in Hawaii. Sadly, many of Hawaii's traditional agricultural crops (taro, sugar cane, pineapple, papaya, mangoes, etc.) have become disturbingly uncompetitive against lower-cost food imported from Asia and Central America.

Macadamias are extremely nutritious and contain high concentrations of protein and monounsaturated fats (that's the "healthy" kind of fat). And a recent study showed that consumption of macadamia nuts reduces both LDL and total cholesterol levels. Sounds a lot tastier and cheaper than a Lipitor tablet, doesn't it?

Also, macadamias nut trees are popular with environmental groups because the trees are extremely efficient at sequestering carbon (absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in the tree itself).

And if you've ever enjoyed wasabi peas, you'll love the wasabi and teriyaki-flavored macadamia nuts (see the photo above). Once we tried them we were completely addicted. Fortunately, you can easily get them on Amazon.

But even wasabi can't hold a candle to the most dangerous food combination of all: dark chocolate and macadamia nuts:

Again, be prepared to pay up: the little bag you see here costs $4.00 and it contained a mere 11 individually wrapped chocolates. Not exactly laughably cheap.

Related Posts:
Calling All Coffee Addicts: 100% Kona Coffee
Spending to Save: Frugality and Expensive Food
How to Prepare and Eat a Rambutan Fruit
Hawaii and its Love Affair with SPAM
The Chocolate Gene
Conclusions from the Chocolate Fast

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Shelly said...

Welcome to the foodie blog roll. Hawaii is nice but I am a Jersey Beach Lover girl :)

Simply Life said...

I love macadamia nuts- yum!

Donna said...

Macadamia nuts and I are best friends! Love your site!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Welcome back to our side of the country, Dan! ... I guess! LOL ;)

Oh how I love macadamia nuts - the first time I had them, while visiting Hawaii, was a revelation! Its interesting to hear how the cost is protecting the crop ... reassuring too.

Close to home said...

I went to hawaii 10 years ago on my honeymoon and this reminded me of the great place

NMOS said...

Macadamia nuts are one of my favorites. And the wasabi-teriyaki flavor is making me want to go out and find some. They are very nutritious and good for you, but I heard that they go stale fairly fast, especially if they're in the heat/sun. Nice blog.

Daniel said...

Hi Shelly, thanks for stopping by. I like the vibe at the Jersey Shore too--and it's certainly a lot closer! But they don't grow mac nuts there, sadly.

Donna and Simply Life, thanks for stopping by and for spreading positive vibes!

Diva, welcome back yourself! :)Thanks as always for reading.

Hi Close to Home, I'm glad to bring back a good memory.

NMOS, thank you for your comment. Yep, those Wasabi mac nuts are utterly addicting. Utterly. Thanks for stopping by!


Christie's Corner said...

I adore macadamia nuts and have been known to make myself sick on them due to total lack of control. I know they're good for me, but now only buy very small amounts because I know I can't trust myself.

I love them enrobed in dark chocolate. You can have the wasabi ones, so we won't have to fight.