Posted In Eat, Lunch / Dinner, Recipe, Snacks

Nuts about walnuts; walnut and kale pesto

13th May 2016

Why walnuts are the world's healthiest nut. Nutritionally superior pesto recipe!

I often think that walnuts are like an inferior tasting pecan nut that is somehow 1000 years past its use-by-date but freakily ended up in my kitchen. Judged by taste alone, they’d be one of my least favourite nuts, reserved solely for carrot cake and brownies, in which they actually taste pretty great. But (sadly) I cannot live on brownies and carrot cake. So I am inspired to figure out other acceptable walnut situations because for nutrition, the walnut is pretty unequivocally the healthiest nut.  This is BTW a topic I discuss with my children: food is not just about taste. It is fuel, and if we want our bodies to perform really well, we need to nourish them correctly. Superman, supercars and Popeye feature heavily in this kind of chat.

Back to walnuts. Total powerhouse of nutrition: protein, healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, antioxidants, and many vitamins and minerals. A single handful provides around 90% of the recommended daily intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is shown in studies to be particularly beneficial for heart health by reducing inflammation and improving the composition of blood fats. Walnuts are in fact the only nut that contains significant amounts of ALA. Further, studies suggest that the phyto-chemical substances in walnuts may have potential health benefits against cancer as well as neurological diseases, and that regular consumption of walnuts may help in lowering bad cholesterol in the blood, thus reducing risk of coronary diseases and strokes. Summary: walnuts are heart-healthy, brain-preserving, skin-friendly and (potentially) cancer-preventing. Simply eating walnuts might be one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Needless to say, we have been playing around with walnuts a lot in TMA kitchen.

Here is our walnut and kale super-pesto, a few nutritional gains beyond the classic basil and pine nut version. Also a nice change to our guacamole as a dip. Crudites or raw vegetables are such a great snack. Don’t ruin it nutritionally with shop bought dips full of salt, weird stabilisers and hidden sugars. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 120g bunch kale
  • 1/3 cup raw or lightly toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 10-20 basil leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado, optional and only if serving immediately

Method

  1. Steam washed kale lightly for 1 minute
  2. Add kale and rest of ingredients to a food processor and blend for 4-5 minutes
  3. Season with salt and pepper

The pesto is super versatile! You can use it on the side of meat or as pasta sauce – I like it with a mixture of courgette and brown rice spaghetti with flaked parmesan on top. When I am using it instantly, I often add to the mixture half an avocado, which makes it even tastier, more nutritious and basically a dream-of-a-dip for crudités. Enjoy! P.S. The picture below is pasta cooked in beetroot juice. I had leftover beetroot juice and was just experimenting. I even managed to make pink pasta by using a little less of the beetroot juice and adding cream cheese but the threenager wouldn’t touch it, even when I told her it was blessed by a unicorn. Eye-roll. I ate pink pasta this week. (I sprinkled herbs on it so I could at least feel slightly like I was an actual adult).

Photo credits: grey bowl is part of the Halo range by Denby

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