Thursday, 24 March 2011

Getting a Little Nutty, and Heart-Healthy!

Did you know?
Walnuts are the only nuts with a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Mounting scientific evidence suggests that omega-3s lower cholesterol, protect the heart, defend against some cancers and help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
Huh. I guess that makes them one important nut! And one you should be incorporating into your weekly diet. This week we whipped up two dishes from the California Walnut Commission to help promote the goodness of these beneficial and versatile little nuts.

A delicious pasta salad with the added boost of tuna and a silky yogurty dressing, and a crunchy granola to help you get your day started right. For even more walnutty recipes, check out this selection here. 

Do your body a favour, get a little nutty!

Tuna and California Walnut Pasta Salad*

The combination of black olives, thyme, garlic and roasted red peppers make this tuna pasta salad out-of-the-ordinary. The addition of California walnuts offers added heart health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

*This California walnut recipe is heart-healthy and appears on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website.

Heart-Healthy Salads    

Tuna and California Walnut Pasta Salad
1 cup non-fat yogurt, 250 mL
3 tbsp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, 45 mL
3 tbsp chopped black olives, 45 mL
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, 15 mL
1 clove garlic, minced    
salt and pepper to taste*    
10 oz fusilli (corkscrew), penne or other large pasta shape, 300 g
6 oz can water-packed tuna, 170 g
1/2 cup walnuts, 125 mL
1/4 cup thinly sliced roasted, peeled red peppers (packed in jars), 50 mL
2 tbsp chopped parsley, 25 mL
To make the dressing, in a small bowl place yogurt, vinegar, olives, thyme and garlic. Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until done. Then rinse well and drain again. Drain tuna and place in large bowl with cooked pasta, walnuts and peppers and toss to combine.

Before serving, add the dressing and stir to coat ingredients evenly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 442, Protein 23 g, Total fat 12 g, (Polyunsaturated fat 8 g, Monounsaturated fat 2 g, Saturated fat 1 g), Cholesterol 11 mg, Carbohydrates 61 g, Fibre 5 g, Sodium 421 mg

* The Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests Canadians use no more than 1 tsp (5 mL) of salt a day.

California Walnut Granola*
This nutritious granola is packed with good-for-you ingredients. The oats and bran give you the fibre your body needs, the honey and vanilla are added for a touch of sweetness, while the walnuts provide added crunch and omega-3s.

*This California walnut recipe is heart-healthy and appears on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website.

Heart-Healthy Breakfast     

California Walnut Granola 
4 cups quick cooking [not instant] rolled oats, 1 L
2 cups natural wheat bran, 500 mL
1 cup chopped California Walnuts, 250 mL
3/4 cup liquid honey, 175 mL
2 tsp vanilla, 10 mL
1-1/2 cups raisins [or dried cranberries, chopped dried apples, apricots or other mixed dried fruit] 375 mL
fresh fruit for garnish as desired       
In a large bowl stir together oatmeal, bran and walnuts. In a small microwaveable bowl, combine honey and vanilla; microwave on high for about 20 seconds until runny. Stir to mix; pour over dry ingredients and toss to coat well.

Spread evenly in large shallow baking pan and bake in 300ºF oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden, stirring two or three times. Cool completely; it will crisp as it cools. Stir in raisins or dried fruit; store in airtight container.

Serves 10.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 352, Protein 9 g, Total fat 10 g (Polyunsaturated fat 7 g, Monounsaturated fat 2 g, Saturated fat 1 g), Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 65 g, Fibre 10 g, Sodium 7 m