Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Walnuts

Walnuts are one of my favorite nuts – and not just because they’re fun to crack open.  They make a tasty addition to baked goods, salads, and pasta dishes, and are one of the best plant-based sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, of which many of us have a hard time consuming enough.  Walnuts are also a good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E and an excellent source of iron, manganese, and several B vitamins.  The next time you are tempted to just use walnuts as a topping or mix-in to your main dish, challenge yourself to think outside the box and use them in a new and innovative way, such as this smoothie.

Walnut-Date Smoothie

Ingredients
Walnut Milk:
1 cup walnut halves, rinsed (about 4 ounces)
3 cups water, plus more for soaking the walnuts
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt

Smoothie:
1 cup walnut milk
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup ice cubes (about 8)

Instructions

1.  To make the walnut milk:  Place walnuts in a bowl and fill with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Cover and set aside at room temperature to soak at least 1 hour to 12 hours.  Drain walnuts and rinse thoroughly. Combine walnuts, 3 cups water, honey, vanilla, and salt in the carafe of a blender then blend on low until very smooth, at least 2 minutes.
2.  Combine all smoothie ingredients except the ice in the carafe of a blender and blend on high until the dates are broken up and the mixture very smooth, at least 1 minute.
3.  Add ice and blend briefly on high until ice is just broken up. Pour into chilled glasses and serve immediately.  Makes 3 servings.

Recipe adapted from the California Walnut Commission

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