Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Brainy Walnut


Walnut's latin name, Junglans Regia, is derived from Jovis glans meaning regal nut of Jupiter or nut of "the Gods." Ancients believed the gods dined on walnuts, hence regia or regal.


It is difficult to trace the native home of the walnut tree, but ancient Romans believe it originated in Persia.


Walnuts have long be known to be terrific brain food. A study conducted recently showed that students that eat half a cup of walnuts every day for 6 - 8 weeks experienced improvement in critical thinking, specifically inferential reasoning. (The ability to think further than the given facts)


They are also rich in protein, there for essential in a vegan diet, combats unhealthy fats due to being rich in compounds that reduce hardening of the arteries, and keeping them flexible. Walnuts are also key sources of omega three fatty acids, the brain is almost 60 percent comprised of the fats that are found in walnuts.


Walnuts also ranks as the nut provides the highest level of quality antioxidants. Even just a handful a day can help combat breast cancer.


My favourite dish with walnuts must be Baklava, (I'll be testing the cupcake version soon), but in the mean time, here is a recipe for this fantastic Mediterranean pastry from allrecipes.com



Baklava


1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey


Directions


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.


Kali Orexi!

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