Consuming Walnuts Will Improve Your Health With a Rich Nutrient Profile
In the book SuperFoods Rx, Steven Pratt considered walnuts one of the SuperFoods. He recommends eating 1 ounce, five times a week to get the most out of its nutrition. Walnuts contain plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, polyphenols, protein, fiber, potassium, plant sterols, vitamin B6, and arginine. Pratt also shared why he includes walnuts on the list:
People have a predictable response when I tell them nuts are a SuperFood. Most say, “I can’t eat nuts: they’re too fattening.” Some of my patients have said, “I can’t even have nuts in the house. If they are around, I eat them.” These responses are understandable; nuts are just plain delicious.
My brother-in-law scarfed down as many nuts as possible after I told him about their considerable health benefits, and gained five pounds in one month. He tuned out when I told him the other part of the nut equation: moderation! Certainly nuts are high in calories, but they have extraordinary health benefits and are an important addition to your diet. Here are some tips about nootropic benefits of nuts.
First a simple fact: if you are overweight, smoke, never get off your sofa, and eat five fast-food meals a week, there’s one thing you could do to improve your health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease without even taking your right hand off the remote. Eat a handful of nuts about five times a week. This simple act would reduce your chances of getting a heart attack by at least 15 percent and possibly as much as 51 percent with a few more lifestyle changes.
That’s how powerful nuts are. Nuts have attracted a great deal of attention lately. As a new nutritional era emerges that moves well beyond macronutrients like fat and protein and into the exciting world of phytonutrients, nutritionists are rediscovering these little nutrition powerhouses. I can safely say that nuts will play an important role in maximizing the human health span during this century.
Walnuts are the headliner for this category of SuperFood for a number of reasons. They are one of the few rich sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids (called alpha linolenic acid, or ALA) along with canola oil, ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil, soybeans and soybean oil, wheat germ, spinach, and purslane. They are rich in plant sterols—plant sterols can play a significant role in lowering serum cholesterol levels—a good source of fiber and protein, and they also provide magnesium, copper, folate, and vitamin E. Finally, they’re the nut with the highest overall antioxidant activity.
How To Make Pancetta
Bacon and pancetta are both made from pork bellies; the difference between them lies in how they’re prepared and cured. To make bacon, pork belly sides are brined and then smoked. Pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, is made by seasoning a pork belly side with salt and lots of pepper, curling it into a tight roll, and wrapping it in a casing to hold the shape. It’s cured, but it isn’t smoked, says Jennifer Armentrout of Fine Cooking.
Emma Christensen of The Kitchen, also explained that:
Bacon and pancetta have the most in common. They are both typically made from pork belly and both are cured for a certain length of time. Both are also considered "raw" and need to be cooked before eating.
What’s the difference? The curing process. Pancetta is simply cured, and the focus is really on how this happens. This can be done simply with salt, but spices and other aromatics are often added to infuse the pancetta with particular flavors.
Pancetta is sometimes sold sliced paper thin or cubed. The thin slices can be wrapped around vegetables or meat before cooking. The pancetta cubes are often used like bacon, sautéed with onions or garlic to form the base of a soup, pasta, or risotto.
So pancetta is cured and unsmoked, while bacon is cured and smoked, but both need to be cooked before being eaten. They can be used interchangeably in dishes, depending on whether or not you want a smoky flavor.
Radicchio from the Lettuce Family
Sarah Labensky, the famous author of the culinary book, On Cooking shared a very good description of radicchio. This vegetable resembles a small red cabbage. It retains its bright reddish color when cooked and is popular braised or grilled and served as a vegetable side dish. Because of its attractive color, radicchio is popular in cold salads, but it has a very bitter flavor and should be used sparingly and mixed with other greens in a tossed salad. The leaves form cups when separated and can be used to hold other ingredients when preparing composed salads.
Apples; What You Don't Know
This single popular fruit has always been available to consumers. But Harold McGee, author of the book, On Food and Cooking, provides interesting knowledge. Apple trees are especially hardy and are probably the most widely distributed fruit trees on the planet. There are 35 species in the genus Malus. The species that gives us most of our eating apples, Malus x domestica, seems to have originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan from crossings of an Asian species (Malus sieversii) with several cousins.
The domesticated apple spread very early through the Middle East. It was known in the Mediterranean region by the time of the Greek epics, and the Romans introduced it to the rest of Europe. These days, apple production is an international enterprise, with southern hemisphere countries supplementing northern stored apples during the off-season, and common varieties as likely to have come from Asia (e.g., Fuji, from Japan) as from the West. There are several thousand named apple varieties, which can be divided into four general groups.
- Cider apples
- Dessert or eating apples
- Cooking apples
- Dual purpose apples
The Fuji apple falls under the dessert or eating apples category and will be used in the salad recipe below.
Kale with Pancetta Salad2 cups walnuts
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup pancetta bacon, diced into thick cuts
1 scoop Momental MIND Nootropic Meal Replacement
2 tablespoons olive oil brine, from a bottle of olives
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
2 Fuji apples, cut into thin strips
1 head radicchio, cut into strips
1 cup finely shredded kale leaves
1 tablespoon tarragon
3 tablespoons chives
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a bowl, soak walnuts in water for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a sieve and drain excess water.
- In another bowl, whisk together salt, cayenne pepper, and confectioners’ sugar. Add walnuts and toss. Transfer these to a sieve and remove the excess powder.
- In a baking pan lined with parchment paper, arrange the walnuts and bake for 12 minutes or until the sugar is lightly caramelized and walnuts are golden.
- In a skillet pan over medium heat, heat oil and cook the pancetta until browned, about 6 minutes. Remove excess oil on a plate with paper towel. Meanwhile, strain the pan drippings in a bowl.
- Whisk in MIND Nootropic, olive oil brine, vinegar, and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add apples, radicchio, kale, tarragon, chives, and parmesan. Toss gently.
- Arrange on salad plates. Garnish with walnuts and pancetta. Serve.