Posts Tagged ‘walnuts’

…from the Starters and Light Lunches section of Delicious Dishes for Diabetics:

This tasty seasonal starter is useful for company it as you can prepare it beforehand–it makes regular appearances through the summer.

(A couple of ripe cherry tomatoes will add colour to the plate in a month or so.)

Serves 4

2 large aubergines

2 tbsp olive oil
2–3 tbsp wine vinegar


3–4 cloves of garlic – crushed with a little salt
60 g/2 oz walnuts – shelled; if you do this yourself, take care that no pieces of shell get left with the kernel.

a handful chopped parsley

  • Wash and cut the aubergines lengthwise into 1.5 cm/1/2 inch slices.
  • Salt them slightly and put them in a colander for an hour or so, to drain off some of their bitter juice.
  • Dry them thoroughly and brush generously with olive oil on both sides.

Heat the oven at 240°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9.

  • Put the aubergines on well-oiled foil in a shallow oven tray.
  • Cook them in the oven for about 20 minutes to brown them, turning after 10 minutes.
  • While the aubergines are in the oven, make the sauce.
  • Mix the crushed garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Chop the walnuts in a processor or pound them in a pestle and mortar.
  • Combine these two ingredients with the parsley in a bowl and add another tablespoon of oil.
  • Mix well and check for salt.
  • Take the aubergines out of the oven, put them on a serving plate, brush with the vinegar and spread the delicious sauce on top.
  • Serve warm or room temperature.

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“To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.”
W. Somerset Maugham

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”
John Gunther

“Oysters are the usual opening to a winter breakfast. Indeed, they are almost indispensable.”
Grimod de la Reyniere (1758-1838)

“Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

“Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.”
Oscar Wilde

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”

I’m sure my mother said that a few times!

Breakfast before I set off on my walk this morning was the same as every morning and no sign of an oyster!

large organic oat flakes mixed with

freshly cracked walnuts,

dried untreated apricot–chopped up

a teaspoon of linseeds


half a pot of no fat organic yogurt with

cinnamon sprinkled on top

and moistened with oat milk.

Two slices of 100% rye bread with a little butter and pear & apple fruit spread (no added sugar)

The same every morning? Yes!


Not for me–I look forward to it–once a day at least!

Maybe we are at our most conservative, most in need of ritual just after waking up, but I find the assembling and eating of this bowl of goodies a daily delight.

Meredith’s breakfast tray rested on a pillow in front of her (see below a summer version).

The fire in the kitchen was established, the dishwasher emptied and lunch planned so why not add to this the pattern of virtuousness with another good deed–a healthful walk!

The first flakes of snow were falling gently and laying, so taking my chance I set out–fortified by this habitual breakfast.
The blacktop was slowly turning white as I walked down the road and the snowy mist descended.
Yesterday’s north wind that had roughed up my cheeks had ceased and it was warmer by several degrees.
There’s was no-one about–just the distant pop of a hunter’s gun somewhere over the fields.
Climbing the slope towards the house forty minutes later I could tell that no car had passed since I’d left and looking back I saw my footprints had clearly made their mark in the deepening white.

All was quiet as I entered the house–a ” leisurely” post breakfast calm had descended.

Meredith’s version of breakfast heaven! Porridge (cooked oats–large and small flakes), milk, “no fat” organic yogurt, a prune, seasonal fruit, cinnamon sprinkled over.

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It’s a peculiar year for a walnut hunter.

Normally now, in mid-October, the ground would be thick with freshly released clean-looking nuts–asking to be collected. After rainfall is an especially good time–the raindrops knocking the nuts out of the tree.

It’s a pleasing pastime–with rich pickin’s!

Not this year.

There’s no lack of walnuts but they are falling late–often after the leaves, giving the trees a rather spooky look.

When they fall the nuts are staying untidily in their casings.

I come home from walnuting with tell-tale fingers–stained brown from trying to prise out the nuts.

A give-away–if I were doing something wrong.

This reminds me of  a mulberry tree in Delphi, Greece in 1961!

The summer of that year my school friend Chris Fordyce and I were hitching round Europe for nine weeks before going to university.

We’d been dropped on a corner just outside the then unspoilt town (the youth hostel was half built!)–under the shade of a mulberry tree laden with berries–ripe for the picking. We were hungry and given the setting–decided it was a gift from Apollo.

We reached up to feast on this glorious fruit but soon realised as the mulberry juice ran over our outstretched fingers and up our arms, staining them red, that if challenged by the owner of the tree we would find it impossible to deny the self-evident truth–that we’d been stealing his fruit.

Fast forward to the present and local wisdom has the lack of rain’s to blame for this unusual walnut year.

Not enough moisture rising in the tree to pop open the casing cleanly and push the nuts out for me to scoop up gratefully.

It’s taking the fun out of it.

None the less–I shouldn’t be complaining!

"It's that man again--collecting his nuts!"

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I set off on the long walk for walnuts yesterday afternoon.

It lasts from now to early November and involves a lot of bending down.

Good exercise–and usually good results.

We still over two full boxes left from last year’s harvest. The slim pickin’s from yesterday–just under a kilo–are on the slatted table drying out. And are clearly a subject for conversation!

I know, but listen–have you heard about…?”

The modest almond and its benefits to health have been in the news.

 Diabetes.co.uk reported yesterday that:
Two new studies into the potential health benefits of eating almonds have supported evidence that they can help people with type 2 diabetes to maintain their blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
 One of the studies, published in the journal Metabolism, showed that consuming an ounce of almonds straight before eating a high-starch meal brought a 30 per cent reduction in post-meal glucose levels for patients with type 2 diabetes….”
I just measured out an ounce and counted about thirty nuts–about what I eat as a snack in the late afternoon. I was reminded of an earlier post called Peckishness“:

” Almonds are my prefered nut at the moment–roasted with a little salt. Pistachios preceded them until my nails started to split with opening them. Both have good health properties. Eaten in moderation, one doesn’t have to feel guilty about snacking.

Home-roasted almonds

About 8oz/250gm almonds

1 teaspoon olive oil

fine salt

  • heat the oven to 180C/375F
  • Put the almonds in a bowl and tip the teaspoon of oil over them.
  • Turn them over in the oil until they are well covered.
  • Add a couple of sprinklings of salt and flip them over and over until the salt is well distributed.
  • Spread  the nuts on a shallow baking tray and roast in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes. There’s no pain in testing them for doneness–except perhaps briefly to the fingers!
The only drawback–they are more-ish..!

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Breakfast in the making

As I was climbing the first hill on my walk this morning a single nut dropped with a thud on the road in front of me–missing my head by a whisker.

I picked it up and turn it round in my hand.

It was a perfectly formed walnut–freed from its green casing.

A small opening had been made in the shell through which I could see the white flesh of the unripe kernel.

On it was written this message:

“Keep off my patch!”–only kidding!

In effect that was the message intended by the red squirrel who thought he’d spotted another walnutter.

He had and I am, but not today–it is too early by about three weeks–they are still green.

No matter–walnut harvest time approaches and the trees look promising.

From late September to early November each year I collect them in basketfuls

and hang them out a while to dry in the breeze, before storing them away, like the squirrel, for chillier days to come.

According to local rules: “When they fall on public paths or on the  roadside verges, anyone can harvest them.”

No harm in repeating their wonderful healthly qualities, confirmed in these two studies:

The original Walnut Study from Loma Linda University was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They were the first to find that walnuts in a controlled diet reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease risk significantly more than the diet then recommended by the American Heart Association In other words – they proved, scientifically, that food really can be your medicine.

In April 2000, another landmark walnut report was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  Researchers had 49 men and women with high cholesterol incorporate walnuts into a healthy Mediterranean diet, substituting a handful of walnuts a day for some of the mono-unsaturated fat in the diet.  Participants lowered their “bad” LDL cholesterol by almost 6 per cent and heart disease risk by 11 per cent beyond what would be expected from the Mediterranean diet alone.

and in this:- walnuts


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From the mid-September to the middle of November I combine my walks with a quest for walnuts.

I call it walnutting, and I’m nutty about it. It has become a little obsessional.

I know every walnut tree within 5 kilometres, and roughly when the nuts will mature and drop.

A night of high winds and torrential rain during this period can bring unexpected blessings, because there could be rich pickin’s, as they say in Cornwall, in the morning. You have to tread carefully or you’ll crush them, but a slight roll under your foot can mean treasure beneath!

When they fall on public paths or on the  roadside verges, anyone can harvest them.

Walnuts are a super food— even the two little critters pictured below, painted over four hundred years ago, knew they were worth fighting for.


Dormouse & Mole with walnut

(By Jacopo Ligozzi in the Uffizzi Gallery, Florence)

Walnuts are full of omega 3’s–the good fats–and rich in proteins, potassium (good for the heart), zinc and iron.

They are delicious in salads and in sauces.

Dry roast them in a small pan and they taste even better.

I crack five of them every morning onto my oats as part of the fresh breakfast mix pictured below, which consists of:

Three tablespoons of large oat flakes, an untreated dried apricot–chopped, a teaspoon of linseeds, an Agen prune, half a tub of no- fat organic yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon and unsweetened oat milk.

Breakfast with walnuts and oat flakes

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