Walnuts are one the oldest tree foods known to man. Archaeologists excavating in France have found petrified walnut shells that were roasted that date back to the Neolithic period, more than eight thousand years ago. There are also inscriptions on clay tablets dating back to 2000BC that reveal walnut groves within King Solomon’s famed Gardens of Babylon. Favored as a food for Gods by Romans, they have been found in the ruins of Pompeii, a city destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD.

The walnut was also very popular in India and China, and they remain a significant crop in China today. However, California wins the award for walnut production – growing over half the World’s supply of this heart-healthy nut. Since the 16th century walnuts have been used to treat heart ailments. Back then, it was the nuts physical resemblance to the heart that made it a logical treatment, and today it is hard scientific fact that continues the legacy.

A daily handful of walnuts, as part of a healthy diet, can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood cholesterol, and for diabetics, they may help reduce insulin resistance. Walnuts are packed with protein, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. And fish is not the only food to conatin omega-3 fatty acids – walnuts are filled with them. That means eating walnuts plays a role in the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. Might we suggest you grab a handful and continue reading.

Age to introduce: Over 12 months (finely ground).

WARNING: All nuts, whole and chopped, are a choking hazard and should be introduced between 2- 3 years old. The nut allergy is common, and in some cases can be fatal. Children with asthma or a family history of asthma, eczema, and hay fever are at a higher risk. In these situations, consult you family physician before you introduce any nuts or seeds into your child’s diets.

Children’s Recipe:  Waldorf Salad

In the 1890’s, the famed Waldorf Salad was invented by the maître d’hôtel of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. An instant success, the salad originally contained apples, celery and mayonnaise. Our version is more kid-friendly, and of course, contains walnuts.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup julienne or shredded carrots
  • 1 apple peeled, cored and diced
  • 10-12 seedless grapes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp sweetened coconut (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped dates (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a medium sized salad bowl.

Waldorf Dressing Ingredients:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle over salad ingredients and toss gently before serving.

Tip: If you are searching for an egg-free, dairy-free mayonnaise, try Vegeniase (www.FollowYourHeart.com). You won’t believe how good it is. Available in most natural products stores in the refrigerator case.

Walnuts For The Family

At the market: Walnuts are sold in shells, but are more conveniently packaged for cooking chopped or ground. Walnut Oil is a terrific alternative to butter or olive oil. Walnuts are also available flavored – sweet or spicy, and make a great snack.

Storage: Airtight container. Refrigerate up to 6 months, or freeze for up to one year.

In addtion to a handful fo walnuts for a snack, here are creative ideas to add walnuts in your meals:

  • Walnut infused spinach: In large pan sauté one tablespoon of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of walnut oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add 6- 10 ounces of fresh spinach leaves to the hot pan. Toss spinach until just wilted. Serve as a side dish or as a bed on a serving plate for roast chicken or skewers of tofu and shitake mushrooms.
  • Never boring brussels sprouts: Clean and cut in half 2-3 cups of brussels sprouts. Steam them over boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain and place sprouts in a serving bowl. Toss with 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil, ¼ cup chopped walnuts, and 1 Tablespoon of fresh, chopped thyme. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Crazy for walnuts pasta: Using a blender of food processor, process ½ cup of walnuts until finely ground. Add ground walnuts to store bought or homemade basil pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto. Serve over angel hair or linguine and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.
  • Walnut-y Cake: Replace the cooking oil in your favorite carrot cake, spice cake or gingerbread recipe with walnut oil, and add a 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the recipe. Frost as usual and sprinkle with walnuts for decoration.