When it comes to nuts, it's hard to beat their delicious taste and great health benefits. Enjoying a handful regularly offers great benefits, including heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, minerals, fiber and plenty of other good stuff. But did you know that there is one nut that has more brain-enhancing essential Omega 3's than other nuts? Not only that, it actually looks brain-like! If you guessed walnuts, you're right.Walnuts have been used as food since at least 7,000 BCE. There are a variety of species but we're most familiar with the English and Black Walnut varieties. Both are highly valued for their omega-3 fatty acids - 2.6 grams per ounce for English walnuts and 0.56 grams for the Black walnut variety. These awesome omega 3s, when properly balanced with omega 6's, offer many health benefits. That's why, when it comes to walnuts, I wise-up!
When you eat walnuts, you'll wise up, too. In addition to their great flavor, crunch and texture, walnuts have fiber, antioxidants and important minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and copper. Eating walnuts promotes healthy heart, skin, nervous and immune systems, healthy cholesterol levels and they fall low on the glycemic index, which means they help keep blood sugar levels healthy.Now remember, though, that walnuts are still high in calories! They are so nutrient-dense that you don't need the whole bag. Opt for a small handful - about two to six tablespoons, which is about ½ to 1½ ounces daily. If you have trouble stopping at that limit, here's an idea: Place ¼ cup walnuts in several small snack bags and freeze. Take one out each day. Take them to work, to school or leave out for a snack.Here are some fun ways to wise-up with walnuts:
Add them chicken, tuna, egg, or shrimp salad. Here's an idea for Winter Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Dried Cherries.
Add them to baked goods. The walnuts are delicious in this Carrot Oat Cake.
Roast them with spices and herbs like in this recipe for Toasted Walnuts with Rosemary and Sage.
Add them to hot or cold breakfast cereal.
Try them in rice or any grain pilaf.
Stir them into ice cream or frozen yogurt or non-dairy frozen dessert.
Add them to trail mix.
Eat them plain!
Add them to pasta. Here's a recipe for Spelt Pasta with Walnuts and Roasted Cauliflower.
Use them in pesto in place of pine nuts. Here's a great Walnut Pesto Pasta.
Sprinkle over pancakes or waffles.
Add them to sautéed veggies. They are great with green beans. Try this idea for Haricot Verts with Walnuts.
Add them to stuffing, whether for poultry or veggies such as winter squash or mushrooms. This is a delicious recipe for Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing with Walnuts.
Sprinkle them over yogurt or applesauce. You will absolutely love this Greek Yogurt with Honey Thyme Walnut Crumble.
Sprinkle them over soups such as lentil or minestrone.
Add them to veggie burgers. Here's an idea for Lentil Walnut Burgers.
Garnish bowls of fruit salad with chopped walnuts and dark chocolate chips.
Walnuts are great in this Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts.
To keep shelled walnuts fresh, tightly seal and store in the freezer for up to a year, or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Remember, once shelled, they easily pick up the "aromas"...aka odors…of other foods, so be sure to seal them tightly. Fresh, unshelled walnuts can be stored in a cool, dry location for several months.Got a way to wise up with walnuts? What's your favorite recipe? I'd love to know!