A few years ago our insurance carrier offered complete physical exams and a health assessment at a special, and very good rate. As our carrier at the time was BUPA, this meant that we would have to go to London to take advantage. A hardship, yes, but one we were willing to suffer!
As part of the health assessment we had to record everything we ate and drank for one week.
I was feeling rather smug about the whole thing! After all, I prided myself on my healthy diet (or at least the parts I thought were healthy) I ate yogurt with active cultures, nuts, beans, lentils, whole grains, lo-fat milk, lots of fruit and veg and a reasonable amount of fish and meat. I used olive oil, rarely ate butter, didn't eat those 'other' fats and exercised seriously and regularly. Mountain walks! Golf on a very difficult course and I carried my clubs!
I was going to get a gold star! Maybe even TWO!
'Your reasonably fit', I was told. (Ahh, the British mastery of the understatement, I thought!)
'But your diet is terrible!' Wha ?!? I thought! (Here is an amusing aside: Did you know that the only people (British) that regularly use the 'glottal stop' are incapable of pronouncing it?)
Oooops!, Shucky darn! I hit save instead of draft! To be continued……after I have fed me… What can I say: the sun was shining for the first time in days, the dogs were running in circles and barking, the postman was at the gate, I clicked, I dashed and Bob's your uncle! Half a post! Back to my terrible diet—(got my garden hoed!)
How could my diet be terrible?!? He must be wrong! He was just a doctor, after all. What did he know?
He pulled out the facts: more than half (as in over 50%) of my calories came from fat! Sacré bleu! This is not possible!
Well, it was possible. There are not a lot of calories in fruits and vegetables, I wasn't eating much in the way of grains (whole grain pasta, breads, cereal), and I was eating olive oil, yogurt and nuts, all high in calories. If I sautéed some peppers, onions and potatoes in olive oil, half of the calories in the finished dish came from fat! My breakfast was yogurt, dried fruit and nuts: almost all fat! Toss in a handful of nuts for the occasional snack, and well, you can see the problem.
Since I thought (and still do) that my diet was basically a healthy one (though the good doctor obviously disagreed with me) I decided on a compromise. I would tweak! I stared using a wee bit less olive oil in the pan, a bit less olive oil and a bit more good vinegar in the vinaigrettes and alternated my yogurt breakfast with whole-grain cereal.
But I wasn't giving up my nuts! I love them and it's rare to find a food we love that loves us back!
Walnuts are are so amazingly good for us that I cannot possible describe it all here. The short story: Walnuts improve cardiovascular health, improve the cholesterol profile, help protect the arteries, prevent gallstones, reduce the risk of weight gain, are a good source of melatonin and the high omega-3 fats help maintain brain function and protects bone health. All that on just 4 nuts a day!
And that's just walnuts! I won't even get into almonds (known to lower the glycemic-index of foods eaten with them), pecans and chestnuts….
Nuts are 'super' foods! Maybe, just maybe, I was loving them a bit too much. I did note the '4 nuts a day' bit. So maybe my 'handful or two' was a bit of overkill. I can exercise self-control….sometimes….
1 goat cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olives
Lettuce for 2 small salads
Prepare lettuce and put into medium bowl. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss lightly to combine. Taste and add the rest if desired. (I did – but it depends on how much lettuce you have.) Arrange on 2 dinner plates. Slice cheese into 1/2" (1.25cm) rounds and place on a nonstick and/or foil lined baking sheet. Place under the broiler (grill) or in a 425F (210C) oven for 2 – 3 minutes, just until they start to get bubbly. Remove from oven and place half the slices on each salad. Sprinkle with walnuts, olives and serve.
2 tbs olive oil – the good stuff
1/2 tbs tarragon white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp fresh tarragon
2 tsp snipped chives
In small bowl whisk vinegar, mustard and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in olive oil. When incorporated add herbs and whisk to combine.
One of the absolute best ways to enjoy walnuts is with a glass of vintage port after dinner! That also rates a DO Award!
It's nuts for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and hosted this week by the recently well-traveled Chris of Mele Cotte.
Stop by her blog on Monday for the complete recap – sooner if you want to read all about her recent travels to Poland, Budapest and Vienna!