4.14.2013

Dietitian Pick of the Month: Walnuts

I think it is so important to get back to basics with food. There are  many wonderful foods out there that we tend to overlook as nutrition powerhouses and Walnuts are one of those foods.

Walnuts appear on numerous "superfood" lists, because of their exceptional nutrient profile and the fact that walnuts earned the first approved heart-health claim by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for a whole food. Unique among nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid.[1] Walnuts also provide a convenient source of protein (4 grams), fiber (2 grams) and antioxidants (3.721 mmol/oz).

I like to have a tight handful of raw nuts everyday as a snack, and walnuts are ones at the top of my list. I like mine toasted. I also enjoy making my own walnut butter. One of my favorite appetizers is toasted French bread, walnut butter, sliced pears and a drizzle of honey. Try making your own walnut butter with this easy recipe below.

Homemade Walnut Butter
Ingredients
2 cups walnuts ¼ teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons walnut or vegetable oil (or as needed) Optional, to taste: A little honey A little cinnamon **Yields 1 Cup, 8 servings

Directions
You can make walnut butter using raw, soaked or toasted walnuts. Here’s how to do all three, and why they’re different.

Raw walnuts: Use raw walnuts for a very creamy and smooth texture that tastes like a just shelled walnut.

Soaked walnuts: This method will remove some of the tannin from the walnut skin, and offer a more textured walnut butter. Soak walnuts overnight, drain and discard the water. Then, toast the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350°F for up to 15 minutes to dry them out (don’t let them get dark!). Cool the walnuts before making them into butter.

Toasted walnuts: To enhance the sweet, nutty flavor of walnuts, toast them before making them into butter. Walnut butter with toasted walnuts will provide a coarse textured finished product. Toast walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350°F for 8 to 10, or until fragrant. Cool the walnuts before making them into butter.

To make the butter: Make walnut butter by putting the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and grinding them until they become sticky or paste-like. Add the salt. Add the oil, a little bit at a time until the walnut butter binds together. If you like, add small touches of honey and/or cinnamon to taste.

Nutrition Information, 2 Tbsp
Calories: 174 Total Fat: 17 g Saturated Fat: 1.7 g Monounsaturated Fat: 2.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 12.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 73 mg Total Carbohydrate: 3 g Dietary Fiber: 2 g Protein: 4 g

Recipe courtesy of www.walnuts.org