Nuts are considered a handy snacking option — they are light to pack, easy to eat on the go and have a host of nutritional benefits. And even in this world of healthy nuts, walnuts stand out as a superfood. “That’s because they are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, which, besides being essential for our brain’s functioning, also help iron out memory kinks and boost our cognitive abilities,” explains Dr Rajnish Verma, nutritionist at Sai Snehdeep Hospital, Mumbai.
“That is why I ask mothers to begin giving their children walnuts (crush or mash and add to their cereal) from the time they are six months old to help in their brain development,” says Hetal Pandya, head nutritionist, Fortis Hospital.
Besides aiding mental wellness, walnuts help keep your heart healthy too. “Research shows that walnuts lower the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and improve good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) numbers,” says Pandya. “And studies also show that they can keep diabetes away. Besides, they are a safe food for diabetics, as long as they have it in moderation,” she adds.
If you have trouble sleeping, walnuts can help you snooze better. “Just pop in a few halves before bedtime, as research shows that walnuts tend to increase melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep) in the body,” says Verma.
Breakfast: Walnut And Date Smoothie
50 gm walnuts n 250 ml milk
1 cup yogurt n 1/2 cup dates (pitted and roughly chopped)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Ice cubes (optional)
Combine everything except ice and blend until the dates are crushed and mixture is smooth. Add ice and blend briefly. Serve chilled.
By Chef Vijay David, Grand Mercure, Bengaluru
Dinner: Walnut And Parsley Crusted Chicken With Potato And Barbecue Sauce
250 gm chicken breast (with skin) n 20 gm Dijon mustard n 50 gm parsley
75 gm walnut n 20 ml olive oil n 150 gm potato
30 gm garlic n 20 gm barbecue sauce n Rosemary, sea salt and pepper to taste
Season chicken breast with salt, pepper and rosemary. Toast walnuts with salt. Chop parsley and mix with toasted, crushed walnuts. Peel potatoes, boil, strain and mash them. Add chopped garlic and mashed potato to heated oil, cook till potatoes get a nice crust. Grill chicken in a non-stick pan or griller on both sides. Brush chicken skin with Dijon mustard, spread walnut and parsley crust on top and cook in an oven at 200 degree celsius for five minutes. The dripping will ooze out of chicken. Reduce dripping and add barbecue sauce. Serve chicken with potato and barbecue sauce.
By Nishant Choubey, Executive Chef, Dusit Devarana
Dessert: Chilled Walnut And Apple Halwa Cannoli
2 apples (grated) n 90 gm walnuts n 1 green
cardamom n 1/2 stick cinnamon n 90 gm reduced, evaporated toned milk n 5 tsp Splenda n 20 gm pure ghee
175 gm whole wheat flour n 1 tsp Splenda n 2.5 gm salt n 50 ml toned milk n 30 gm unsalted butter
1 pinch cinnamon powder n 1/2 tsp orange zest
Soak walnuts and blend to make a paste. Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed pan, add apples and sweetener to it and cook till it turns golden brown. Add powdered cinnamon and cardamom and walnut paste and cook for five-six minutes. Add reduced, evaporated milk and stir on very low heat till halwa becomes thick. Mix all ingredients and make a dough. Let it rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Take it out and make thin disks of four-inch diameter and bake in an oven at 200 degrees celsius for 10 minutes. With the help of a steel rod, form hollow cannolis. Fill them with apple and walnut halwa and serve warm.
By Anurag Bali, Executive Chef, Fairmont Jaipur