Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 5, 2009

Reap the immune-boosting Omega 3 benefits of walnuts while enjoying a breakfast of irresistibly delicious muffins.

In an article titled “Dietary Alpha-Linolenic Acid Reduces Inflammatory and Lipid Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Hypercholesterolemic Men and Women” published in the November 2004 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, Penny Kris-Etherton, researcher and professor of nutrition at Penn State University, says, “The important new finding with our research is that a diet high in walnuts beneficially affects multiple risk factors for coronary heart disease, which can have a greater impact on decreasing cardiovascular risk than just targeting single risk factors.”

While many people think of fish as the only source of Omega 3 fatty acids, Dr. Kris-Etherton says, “The omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts were converted to the same omega 3 fatty acids found in marine sources, and had a similar effect on inflammation. Reducing inflammation can help decrease the process of arteriosclerosis—the development and build-up of plaque in the arteries.”

Dr. Kris-Etherton stresses that walnuts are an excellent source of not one, but two essential unsaturated fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid and linoleic acid. Walnuts are also an excellent source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Maple Dream Muffins is another delicious recipe from my book The Nut Gourmet.


A FAMILY FAVORITE, these moist, spicy, and nutty muffins are an excellent choice to serve for brunch or breakfast on the run. They’re so fully flavored they need no jam or other topping. If this recipe makes too many muffins for your needs, simply tuck a few into the freezer for a future occasion. Accompany the muffins with plenty of fresh fruit in season and complete the morning meal with a steaming cup of herbal tea.

Yield: 18 muffins

Prune Puree
1 cup pitted prunes
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cups maple syrup
1 cup vanilla flavored soymilk
1 teaspoon maple extract

1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped dates

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 18 standard-size muffin cups with paper baking cups.
2. Combine the prunes and water in the blender and process until smooth. Measure 1/2 cup of the prune puree for the recipe and set it aside. Refrigerate or freeze the remaining prune puree for a future recipe.
3. Toast the walnuts in a 10-inch non-stick skillet for 1 to 2 minutes over high heat, tossing continuously with a wooden spoon until lightly browned. Immediately transfer the walnuts to a dish to cool and set them aside. Alternatively, place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast them in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Combine the reserved prune puree, maple syrup, soymilk, and maple extract in a small bowl.
5. Combine the rolled oats, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl, and stir with a wire whip to distribute evenly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the maple syrup mixture. Add the dates and 1 1/4 cups of the walnuts and mix well.
6. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full with batter and top with the remaining walnuts. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out dry. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Storage: Covered with plastic wrap or packed into zipper-lock plastic bags and stored in the refrigerator, leftover Maple Dream Muffins will keep for one week. To serve, warm them in a preheated 350-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes. For longer storage, pack the muffins into heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bags and freeze them for up to three months.

Notes: If you prefer, 1/2 cup jarred prune puree may be used in place of the pitted prunes and water.

If you do not have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, use an equal amount of all-purpose whole wheat flour. This will produce a slight heavier muffin, but the flavor will still be deliciously satisfying.

Baking Hint: To prevent nuts from sinking to the bottom of the muffins or cakes, toss the nuts with the flour so they are lightly coated before adding them to the batter.

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