This is the second installment in a nutty series I launched a couple of days ago. I’ll start today with the basic walnut and follow up with two more exotic choices.
I love nuts – they’re a perfect addition to healthy food choices and walnuts are one of my favorites. They’re full of good protein and fats, vitamin E, and magnesium. A great source of vegetarian omega-3 fatty acids, studies show walnuts aid cognitive function, promote cardiovascular health, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Who doesn’t need a boost in all those areas? Walnuts are rich in the essential amino-acid l-arginine, which may help lower blood pressure. They also contain a antioxidant called ellagic acid which supports healthy immune function.
Although available year round, walnuts are harvested in the winter. Because of the high fat content in nuts, they should be used quickly or stored in the refrigerator – and eaten in moderation as they’re also high in calories.
Add walnuts to granolas, hot cereals, rice, salads, baked goods, pie crusts, or trail mix. Walnut oil also makes for rich and tasty salad dressings.
walnut hummus wraps
what you need
1 can drained chickpeas
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (omit if you don’t have them)
2/3 cups chopped walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
sea salt to taste
large leaves of Romaine lettuce or Napa cabbage (washed and dried)
what you do
With the back of a fork, mash the chickpeas in small bowl. Stir in walnuts and sesame seeds. Whisk together the oil, lemon, garlic and salt. Combine the chickpea mix with the dressing and chill for an hour or more. Fill crisp lettuce or cabbage leaves with mixture and serve immediately.
* This recipe is a variation of one from Bryanna’s Vegan Feast ideas.
According to our friends at Wikipedia, pistachio trees have been around for about 80 million years. Eighty million – how do they know that? They also say that pistachios aren’t nuts in a botanical sense, but are in a culinary sense. Hmmm?
Okay – on to the nutrition part, which is what we really need to know about anyway. Although I must admit, I might throw out that 80 million year thing next time I’m snacking on pistachios at a party. Does that sound like you’re smart, or just esoterically strange?
Shelled pistachios are sweet and earthy-green in color. The green color is natural and comes from the chlorophyll in the nut. Don’t eat dyed-red pistachios – what is that all about? Pistachios aren’t red, they’re pale beige with a meaty-green hue to them. Whoever decided they should be red must not be aware that they’ve existed just fine in that drab natural color for the past 80 million years. Geez, why mess with a good thing at this point?
And get this, one ounce (just one) of pistachio nuts contain as much fiber as an apple and more than that in a half-cup of spinach. They’re also high in vitamin B-6, thiamin, phosphorus, and magnesium. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Like the rest of the nuts, they’re high in fat so they go rancid quickly. High in fat also means high in calories, so go easy on the nuts.
Now – what are these little gems?
If you guessed hazelnuts or filberts (be honest), you’re right. Filbert is hazel’s domestic partner. They’re similar, hang out together, and depending on where they’re grown, are called one or the other. I’ll spare you the details as it gets a bit convoluted, but trust me, they’re the same nut. I love hazelnut flour for baking* and who doesn’t like hazelnut chocolate truffles? Or Nutella, one of my favorite backpacking staples. Nutella isn’t the most nutritious product around, so I’m really not advocating it, but it does serve its purpose out on the trail.
Speaking of backpacking and Nutella, here’s another riveting fact you can throw out at your next social event. The number of jars of Nutella produced in 1 day stacked up equals almost 25 times the height of Mt. McKinley. Oh my gosh – who is eating all this stuff?
Back to the healthy version, which is the source and that’s always best. Hazelnuts are high in thiamine and vitamin B-6, as well as other B vitamins. Like the rest of the nut family, they’re high in fat (not bad fat though), so store in the refrigerator.
* Hazelnut meal/flour is naturally gluten-free, has a sweet, nutty flavor that I love, and adds richness to baked goods. It’s also low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and protein. It’s a great ingredient for GF pie crusts. Substitute 20 – 25% hazelnut flour in your recipe. Yum!
Okay, that’s enough nut talk for today. Part 3 in this nutty series will follow.
In good health,