As a registered dietitian, a health professional, and now a new mom, I try to lead by example. I try to eat healthy 80% of the time and limit my indulgences to the rest. I try to make my meals as colorful as possible, varied, and majorly plant-based, which means lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. I try to get an adequate (and now that I'm breastfeeding) increased amount of protein in my diet. I am a big advocate for eating a high fiber diet, and really feel my best when my vegetable consumption is high. This doesn't mean that my diet is always 100%. I am human and it's only natural to fall victim to sleep deprivation and a busy schedule.
So when I am at my best, nuts, seeds, and legumes make up a large part of my diet. I live for black beans and chickpeas! I like to keep a plastic container in the fridge with black beans cooked in broth and spicy baked chickpeas for snacking, adding to salads, or quesadillas. I try to incorporate lentils whenever I can (although sometimes I find it difficult coming up with other ideas besides daal and soup). I always have a few half-eaten bags of nuts opened for snacking and baking, and lately, incorporating into savory dishes.
One of my favorite nuts is the walnut, as you can probably tell from a lot of the recipes I share - here, here, here, and here. I love to incorporate walnuts into baked goods for their earthy and buttery flavor, and their tender crunch. Not only do walnuts taste delicious, but they are also high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are super important for a whole list of health-related benefits.
Recently, the American Heart Association published exciting data from a 6-year long study that looked at the various sources of omega 3 fatty acids. The findings were that eating a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids from marine sources reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (which we know), but also that eating a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids from specifically walnuts and olive oil, further reduces the risk of all-cause mortality. This means that not only is it important to incorporate fish into our diets, but also plant-based sources of omega 3's. This research really solidifies the importance of plant-based eating.
One of the ways in which I like to incorporate walnuts into my diet is via these super healthy high fiber seedy crackers. When I first moved to the west coast, I became absolutely obsessed with a cracker called raincoast crisps. But because they're pricey, I only splurge once in a while when I'm having guests over, or when I'm feeling indulgent. I took matters into my own hands and came up with a walnut dried cranberry version, with a little help from Julie. They are such a pretty and tasty addition to a fancy cheese plate, particularly, topped with a generous dollop of creamy goat cheese and a little fig preserve. March is National Nutrition Month, a perfect time to incorporate a little more walnuts into your life.
I'd like to thank the California Walnut Commission for sponsoring this post. If you are looking for some walnut inspiration, there is an extensive collection of recipes to browse through on the California Walnuts site. They've also put together a really great list of resources for plant-based eating.
WALNUT AND CRANBERRY SEEDY CRACKERS
makes 40 crackers
prep time: 30 minutes
cooking time: 65 minutes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Grease 2 mini loaf pans (5 x 3 x 2"). I have the
, and I love it.
In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients.
In a small bowl combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and brown sugar.
Add the wet to the dry and stir. Divide the batter into two mini loaf pans. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Place the loaves in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will make them easier to cut.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
Remove the loaves from the freezer. With a sharp bread knife, slice the loaves into very thin slices. The thinner the better. Place the slices onto a baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, flip, and then 15 more minutes on the other side.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks.