Loving the BITE: Walnuts – 3 Ways

Why not walnuts?  This question came to mind this week as I was deciding on our Loving the Bite key food.  They are absolutely packed with nutrients that will benefit your body.  And, as athletes, we’re always on a quest to nourish our bodies well, right?

So, I began to search for good recipes.  Problem was, most recipes that include walnuts (baked products and entrees) often contain loads of sugar or sweeteners to override their slightly bitter taste.  Sure, we could use these products and substitute a product like stevia for the sugar.  But why not embrace all walnuts have for us, bitterness and all?

Turns out, the bitterness is bittersweet.  As you’ll see, the bitter skin is a powerhouse of nutrients.  This week, we’ll simplify and use walnuts a few different ways:

Recipes of the week: Walnuts, 3 Ways

#1: Quick Walnut Granola

Heat a small skillet on medium-high heat.  Add ¼ cup chopped walnuts and cook/toast for ~1 minute, stirring continually.  Add ¼ cup old-fashioned oats and ½ tsp cinnamon.  While still stirring, cook 1-2 more minutes until toasted thoroughly, being careful not to burn.  Remove from heat.  Add 1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds, 2 tsp honey, and ½ – 1 chopped peach, pear, apple or banana.  Stir until well mixed. Serve with milk or yogurt.

#2: Walnut Parfait:

Place ½ cup Greek yogurt in a bowl.  Top with 1 cup berries and 2 Tbsp toasted walnuts.  Drizzle with 1-2 tsp honey.

#3: Wonderful Cinnamon Walnut Butter (adapted from http://glutenfreegirl.com/homemade-walnut-butter):

Place 2 cups shelled walnuts in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Drain walnuts and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Toast in oven until completely dry and toasted about 15 minutes – turn walnuts over half-way through.  Remove from oven and cool completely

Place cooled walnuts in food processor and process until they form a sticky past.  Add ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Continue to process and 2 tsp walnut or peanut oil, drizzling in while continuing to process.  Keep processing until desired consistency – as a nut butter.

Comments:

It seems like a no-brainer.  Walnuts are healthy.  We should eat them.

However, I rarely see walnuts on the food logs of my new clients; and even in my own diet, I used to forgot about them .  Turns out, only about 5.5% of the US population eats tree nuts at all!  Seems that almonds are more popular, and peanuts are more convenient.  And, of course, cashews and pistachios make a wonderful, non-bitter snack.  But, as we consider the nutrition content of walnuts, we will likely want to expand our diets and embrace this bittersweet nut today, and every day.

Like with many Loving the Bite key foods, we’ll keep our bodies healthy and cycling strong this week with nutrients that are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.  These nutrients will work in the body to reduce cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes while promoting bone health and potentially improved sleep cycles.

Antioxidants: Walnuts contain at least 10 different antioxidant nutrients.  In fact, according to http://www.oracvalues.com/sort/orac-value/40, they have an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorpbance Capacity) score of 13541, well above blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries.

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