Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘omega 3 fatty acids’

ALMOND BUTTER TURNS SAUCY

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 22, 2009

Being thoroughly acquainted with myself, and feeling relatively content with that acquaintanceship, I recognize I have become much too much a creature of habit—not too different from my fellow humanoids. I refer to my food buying habits—specifically nut products.

Eons ago I tossed the processed, hydrogenated nut butters out of my pantry and literally became a zealot for natural nut butters. I checked every ingredient label with the same scrutiny as Fuzzy, my cat who sniffs and rejects every new food I’ve tried on him. Only the purest roasted nut butters were allowed to grace my morning toast.
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But I recently had my epiphany when I attended the Natural Products EXPO way back in March of this year, 2009 that is. I discovered a ton of nut products that peaked my curiosity. Out went the boring habits and in came a host of new items, still scrutinized for their healthful properties, but new nonetheless.

One of those products came from a company called Once Again Nut Butters that enhanced one of their many varieties of almond butter with flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids. Not a bad idea, I thought, since it’s an essential fatty acid that offers a ton of health benefits.

For several years I’ve heard and seen radio and TV commercials touting the benefits of eating fatty fish for its Omega 3 fats. Magazines and newspapers print articles pushing salmon as if it were the only source of these good fats. All I’ve read about Omega 3 describes the essential fatty acid as able to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation in the arteries. Those benefits sound great, but vegans are not amenable to chowing down on a plateful of salmon.

Instead, a compassionate soul like me has found a number of animal-free sources for this essential fatty acid—namely flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, canola oil, and dark leafy greens.

So there on the market shelf stood a jar of smooth almond butter with Omega 3. The ingredient label read “dry roasted almonds, flax seed oil.” Pretty darned pure, I thought. It passed the first test. Well, lights didn’t flash, nor did bells ring, but something came alive within and urged me to put it into my shopping cart. Then a surprising thing happened! I felt compelled to buy the jar next to it as well. That one was certified organic raw almond butter. WOW! Something wondrous was happening.
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It was with the first taste of this OMEGA 3-enhanced almond butter that I experienced true elation. At that moment I believed I had tasted the sweetest almond butter on earth until I spooned the organic RAW almond butter onto my toast next to the roasted nut butter. It was sweeter still! That was a total surprise. I eat raw almonds regularly, but never thought of buying a jar of raw almond butter. Could it be that one taste is enough to create a devotee?

Inspired to the max I decided this fabulous almond butter had to join my family and me at the table not only for breakfast, but also for dinner. An instant flash of AhhhHahhh coaxed me into the kitchen, made me grab the jar of Omega 3 almond butter, and cook up an almond sauce with savory flavors perfect to spoon over the brown rice pasta I had planned for dinner. I aimed for a sauce that was well seasoned, thick, and creamy but didn’t expect the rewarding flavors that resulted. This sauce was so indulgent and rich in flavor, it gave a simple pasta dish an elegant gourmet touch. With the leftovers, I made a veggie Gado Gado, giving the dish a unique new twist. It’s usually made with a peanut sauce.

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SAVORY ALMOND SAUCE

Yield: makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta

1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Pinch cayenne

3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup roasted almond butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds

1. Combine the onions, water, garlic, and cayenne in a large deep skillet and cook, stirring frequently, over high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions are softened and become translucent.
2. Add the vegetable broth, almond butter, cumin, coriander, salt, chili powder, and lemon juice and adjust the heat to gently simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The sauce will begin to thicken in about 5 or 6 minutes.
3. Serve over pasta and garnish the top of each dish with a sprinkle of the crushed toasted almonds. Refrigerated in a covered container, leftovers will keep for about 4 to 5 days.

Note:
The sauce has a tendency to thicken as it stands. Thin it to desired consistency beginning with small amounts of water. Refrigerated leftovers will become almost solid. Thin with water and reheat over medium-low heat.

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Companies, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

WALNUTS IN A TIE WITH FISH: OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS THE PRIZE

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.

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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.
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MAPLE DREAM MUFFINS

Yield: 18 muffins

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

Batter
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.
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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.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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