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The Wonderful World of Walnuts

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: August 26, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

At the edge of the fence in the far back corner of my parents’ yard—a yard mainly consumed by a big white garage and a vegetable garden, and adorned with colorful flowers in the summer—sits a majestic black walnut tree.

My brother and I spent many summer evenings leaning against its scratchy bark, sweaty hands covering our eyes, counting to 20 for raucous games of hide-and-seek with the neighborhood kids. And the squirrels that inhabited the sprawling monstrosity loved to play the same game with our miniature dachshund Daisy. To this day, the tree drops green-husked walnuts every other spring, to the irritation of my father, who stoops to pick up each one, dropping them in a plastic bucket making a hollow thump with each. Having never worked to remove the nuts from their green coating, we never took advantage of the incredible super food growing in our own backyard.

Walnuts have earned this prestigious honor because they are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a special type of protective fat that the body doesn’t manufacture naturally, and the potential health benefits include cardiovascular protection, better cognitive function and anti-inflammatory results.1 There are three main types of commonly consumed walnuts: English, White and Black. The English walnut is the most popular type in the United States due to its thinner shell and pleasant flavor.1 Brimming with richness, walnuts can be used in a variety of dishes, including in breads, desserts, salads, paninis, and with various meats, in stuffings and with multiple types of cheeses.

In the kitchen

This healthy nut is also a tasty treat, with its mellow, earthy flavor complementing many dishes and becoming a favorite of many palettes. Spa chefs use this crunchy delight in many different ways.

At Portland, Oregon’s The Dragontree Holistic Day Spa, the Lincoln Panini combines walnuts with pear, spinach, chevre and olive oil, while the Desiree Panini includes turkey, brie and walnuts. At New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New York, the Lentil Walnut Loaf with Leek-Pear Puree is served as an entree; and Spicy Chicken and Walnut Lettuce Wraps can be enjoyed at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas. Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in San Diego offers a Tarragon Walnut Wild Rice Salad with Chicken; and Orange Walnut Bread is a delicious breakfast treat at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. Also, check out the tempting recipe for Vineyard Waldorf Salad from Chef Mike Terry of South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula, California.

In the spa