Welcome to the series where I share the health benefits of some of the healthiest foods in our diet and Carol Taylor enhances their natural goodness with stunning recipes.. This week let’s go nuts!
Walnuts are all they are cracked up to be!
Evidence of walnut consumption was dug up, literally, in Southwest France during excavation on Neolithic archaeological sites dating back over 8,000 years. It appears that there were walnut groves in the hanging gardens of Babylon and in Greek mythology the walnut was highly revered and temples built to honour it.
The Latin name for the tree, Juglans Regia, comes from the Roman civilisation where it was called Jove Glans or the Royal nut of Jove. The nut and the oil have been used since ancient times, both as a food and for dyeing wool and are now worldwide commodities.
Walnuts are very versatile – chopped up on savoury or sweet dishes or used as a snack between meals they give you a very healthy nutritional punch. Omega 3 fatty acids are a special type of protective fat, rather than harmful fat, and it is something that the body does not produce itself. – 14 half walnuts provides you with over 90% of your daily requirement and if you look at the health reasons for taking Omega 3 you will understand how very important this small handful of nuts is.
Omega 3 is known to help protect us from cardiovascular problems, improve brain function, help with inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis and in skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Walnuts also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which boosts the immune system and protects against cancer.
What is the most important benefit of walnuts?
For anyone who suffers from elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein that when oxidised forms blockages in the arteries) levels in their bloodstream, eating walnuts is definitely helpful. It is one of those rare occasions when claims that certain foods can help a condition are permissible. In the case of walnuts the FDA in America were sufficiently convinced by scientific research into the benefits of the nuts in lowering LDL cholesterol that they allowed the health claim to be advertised on products containing the nut or the oil. This is down to the excellent levels of Omega 3 in the nuts, which contain the highest amount in 1 oz. compared to other nuts (2.5 g of Omega 3 against 0.5 g in other nuts)
Omega 3 helps prevent erratic heart rhythms and because the LDL, which causes platelets to clot, is lowered the risk of strokes is also reduced.
Omega 3 works on our brain function because our brains are actually 60% structural fat and needs to be supported in our diet by specific Omega 3 fats like those in walnuts, flax seeds and cold water fish like salmon. Part of the reason is that the cell membranes that everything has to pass through are mainly fat. Omega 3 is very flexible, and fluid, and can pass easily through the cell membrane taking other nutrients with it at the same time. This increases the cell uptake of nutrients making them more effective.
Studies of Omega 3 deficiency have highlighted some worrying trends. One of the most concerning is the evidence of depression in children. It has also been linked to hyperactivity, behavioural problems such as tantrums and learning difficulties. This deficiency is on the increase particularly in the United States, and the UK is not far behind.
Other beneficial nutrients in walnuts.
There are several other good reasons to include walnuts in your daily diet as they include the following nutrients:
Manganese; Needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. Also forms part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which helps prevent free radical damage.
Copper is an essential trace element needed to absorb and utilise Iron. It is needed to make ATP and is also to synthesise some hormones and blood cells. Collagen needs copper, as does the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays a role in the production of skin pigment. Too much copper in the diet can depress levels of zinc and effect wound healing.
Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine; The Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower Homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces Haemoglobin the Oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the lowest in terms of levels needed by the body. It is responsible for normal sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is needed for the formation of tryptophan, which affects serotonin levels. These serotonin levels influence sleep and mood.
During the day, snack on 14 half walnuts that is about 190 calories or indulge by including in these fabulous recipes from Carol Taylor.
The Walnut is probably one of my favourite nuts and I always remember my mum used to make a wicked Walnut and coffee sponge for which she won prizes for at the Women’s Institute….
It is a nut which if you have read Sally’s health part of this post is very good for you in many ways and I always eat a handful of walnuts per day.
My first recipe using walnuts is for a Chimichurri and it is lovely as an accompaniment with grilled lamb cutlets.
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh mint
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
- 1 small clove garlic
- ¼ cup Niçoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pulse oil, mint, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovies and garlic in a food processor until it has a coarse, rustic texture. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in olives, walnuts and crushed red pepper.
- 1 cup walnut halves/pieces (you can also use this recipe for candied pecans)
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Use a non stick pan over medium heat; add walnuts, granulated sugar and butter.
Remain on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so your mixture doesn’t burn.
When the sugar mixture starts melting, stir constantly until all sugar is melted and nuts are coated.
Transfer immediately onto a sheet of parchment paper and separate the nuts right away.
Using two spatulas is a faster way to do it.
You don’t want to give the nuts a chance to turn into a piece of inseparable delicious goodness unless you are the only person who will be enjoying the walnuts… Seriously, move quickly from the time the nuts are coated until they are separated out on the parchment paper. Once the coating hardens (5-7 minutes) Make paper cones and fill with the walnuts they then make a lovely little gift.
Home made gifts always seem to be something which most people love to receive it shows a lot of thought and means so much more .
Pasta with walnut Pesto and roasted tomatoes.
- 50 gm/2 oz of shelled walnuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 6 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
- 2 tbsp fresh flat leaved parsley chopped
- 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- 350 gm pasta
Heat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7
Snip the tomatoes into 4 bunches and put in a shallow roasting tin with the walnuts and garlic, the drizzle with about 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Season.
Roast for about 10-12 minutes or until the tomatoes start to colour and the walnuts are toasted.
Cook the pasta as per the pack instructions or for 8-10 minutes until al dente.
Put the walnuts and garlic with any juices from the pan in a mini blender with the remaining olive oil.
The tomatoes can be kept warm in the switched off oven.
Blitz the walnuts and garlic for a few seconds then add the herbs and 2 tbsp of the parmesan cheese.
Pulse again until just combined but not smooth.
Drain your pasta well and return to the pan. Fold in the pesto and season to taste.
Serve with the roasted tomatoes on the side and a scattering of cheese.
- 90g unsalted butter, plus extra, melted, to prepare the tin
- 65g plain flour
- 60g walnuts
- 165g icing sugar
- 60g ground almonds
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground coffee beans
- 4 egg whites (170g)
- 50ml espresso coffee
For the syrup…
- 75ml espresso
- 40g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160ºC / Gas Mark 3.
Next, brush the Madeleine shells with melted butter followed by a dusting of flour and then freeze the tin for 5 mins. Repeat this process once more and leave the tin in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. This was a technique which I learnt from the Daily Telegraph some time ago and it worked so I have used it ever since.
In a small pan, melt the butter and cook it until it turns brown and begins to smell nutty, at this point pour it out into a heat proof bowl and set to one side.
Blitz your walnuts in a food processor, or chop them roughly depending on how much texture you’d like in your Madeleine’s.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, cardamom, ground coffee, egg whites, espresso, a ¼ tsp of salt and the melted butter into the mixing bowl, and beat until you have a smooth, thin batter.
Transfer the batter into a jug and stir through the walnuts.
Almost fill each shell of the Madeleine tin with the batter and then bake for 20 mins. The Madeleine’s are done when they spring back to the touch. When they are cool enough to handle, turn them out, shell side up, onto a wire rack.
As the Madeleine’s are cooking, rapidly boil the espresso and sugar in a small pan, until it is reduced and syrupy, this will take around 5 mins. Finally, brush the syrup over the warm Madeleine’s and those shiny shells are ready to eat with a well-earned coffee.
Alternately fill the Madeline’s with a chocolate butter cream either way they are very nice…
I don’t make biscuits very often…almost never but I food because of the humidity doesn’t last long here it either goes off or the ants take residence. I was guided by the desiccated coconut and the golden syrup which was a gift from afar aka visitors and the rolled oats which I mistakenly bought instead of the porridge oats.
These cookies are my basic recipe and next time will be my experimental recipe I am already planning what I can add to them.
- 150gm rolled oats
- 100gm plain flour
- 100gm light brown sugar (I used raw sugar)
- 100gm walnuts chopped
- 100gm butter
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tbsp of boiling water.
Set oven to heat at 175C, gas mark 4.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, flour, walnuts and oats mix to combine well.
In a small pan add the butter and golden syrup and melt the butter. meanwhile, bring the kettle to the boil and add two tbsps of boiling water to the bicarbonate of soda in a small cup. Add this to the melted butter/syrup mix. It will foam a little.
Make a well in the centre of your dry mix and pour in the melted butter/syrup mix. Stir to thoroughly combine and it will form slightly sticky dough.
Roll out balls and put on a baking tray leaving a space as they will spread on cooking (the mix made 15 balls) slightly flatten with your hand.
Put in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
THE BISCUITS WILL BE SOFT TO THE TOUCH BUT WILL HARDEN ON COOLING.
Don’t make the mistake I made when I first made them and thought they weren’t cooked and gave them another 10 minutes. They were a tad harder than required when they cooled down…ha-ha…I could build a wall with them…Poppas
This is my truly tried tested old faithful recipe for brownies and verified by everyone who has tried it….I don’t know why I have never shared it with you here on WP…I thought I had but never mind I now have shared it for you chocolate brownie lovers to enjoy! This recipe is part of my 20%… If you are wondering it is my 80% healthy eating and 20% indulgence plan….And indulgence it certainly is and very enjoyable BUT if you read the ingredients it is as healthy as a chocolate brownie can be….. Lol
Chocolate and Walnut Brownies.
- 1 cup of oil (I use coconut oil)
- 1½ cups of sugar
- 1 cup of flour
- 2/3 cup of good cocoa powder
- 1 cup walnuts roughly chopped
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp of vanilla essence
- ½ tsp of baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
Mix oil, sugar and vanilla together and then beat in eggs.Combine all dry ingredients except for walnuts and stir into mixture.Add walnuts.Put batter into prepared baking dish and cook for about 1 hr on 175C/350F.
N.B. I added a ½tsp of dried chilli to my second batch. Those of you who know me know I just have to ㋡Next time; I am going to add just a few cranberries or blueberries depending on what I have in the cupboard.
I have also used half oil and half melted butter before and nothing seems to phase this brownie recipe it always turns out well and tastes amazing.This is probably the best brownie mix I have made as the top is nice and crispy but with a gooey underneath, just how I like it or maybe just how this temperamental oven of mine works.
That’s all for the walnut and next week it is the Turkey which will be the last post before Christmas so I will try and find some lovely seasonable recipes for you…
Again many thanks to Sally for letting me add my recipes to her wonderful health tips although this week they do seem to be more on the sweet side rather than the savoury but the ingredients for sweet treats are as healthy as they can be..
And I am very grateful for the wonderful season of recipes that Carol has provided for us and the good news she will be back next year in the role of Food Columnist… sharing foods from Thailand as well as foods we might be more familiar with.. More on the new columns that will be part of the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine next year..
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Connect to Carol
New additional Blog: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology.
Phuket Island Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS
Please feel free to share thanks Sally
If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/