Archive for July 13, 2009

Tiny Little Brains

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a fun summer weekend! I must say, I had a top notch weekend.  Saturday I went to school at Integrative Nutrition and listened to Deepak Chopra lecture for 2 hours. I tell you, he is incredible! And I’m also fairly certain he wore glasses with rhinestones on the side, which I found slightly amusing.  Then we celebrated Matt’s birthday with hibatchi (he’ll post on that later) and a lot of Rockband.

Sunday I had the BEST day with Matt, starting with a home cooked breakfast of oatmeal banana pancakes and tempeh bacon.  Then we hit our farmer’s market and CSA, and after rode our bikes in the park, stopping to picnic and hang out. After, we cooked an incredible dinner (freshly made “carrot” pasta from the farmer’s market and a frittata with some of the greens from the CSA). Top it off with an episode of True Blood, and you’ve got one damn fine day.

Tiny little brains!

Tiny little brains!

Unfortunately, my Sunday was punctuated with long spells of studying for my microbiology test I have on Thursday. Ugh, summer school! In addition to making sure I get enough sleep the week of a test (because we know that sleep is the most important thing, ever, we can give our body) I also load up on “tiny little brains,” as my friend Tamra calls them.  I’m talking about walnuts, people!

Walnuts are an incredible superfood for brain functioning and brain health, and nature has let us know this by making them look like little brains. I swear I feel smarter when I eat them (which is why I load up on them the week of a test…call it the placebo, but I swear eating “little brains” increases my smarty pants-ness).  But think of it: the walnut itself is the brain. The thin papery layer on top is the scalp, and the shell is like the skull. And the walnut comes with two sides, representing the right and left hemispheres of the brain. SO cool!

 Walnuts are about 15-20% protein, as well as containing high amounts of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain  vitamin E and B6, which are wonderful for your nervous system.  The Omega 3 fatty acids are especially important in brain function, as our brains are made up of over 60% fat (which is why low fat diets are NOT good—your think tank needs good fats to work!) The Omega-3 fatty acids help our brain cells take in good nutrients and remove cell waste efficiently.

 Walnuts are also known to help balance our serotonin levels, which control our appetite and mood.  I would say that’s pretty important, right?

Lastly, as with any food, servintg size is important. Although these nutty power houses are chock full of good fat, they are high in calories, so portion control is key.  A portion is 14 walnut halves (approximately 1 ounce) and contains about 185 calories, 4 grams of protein, and 18 grams of fat. 

Try adding walnuts to your diet this week….and perhaps you’ll notice you’re a little bit smarter, too.  I know I need all the help I can get this week!

Update: Larie asked about the shelf-life of walnuts and how to store them. She has had some walnuts in her pantry for several months, and was wondering if they’re still OK to eat. According to the Board of California Walnuts, here are suggestions on how to store your walnuts:

Where to Store Walnuts

When you bring walnuts home from the store, the best place to store them is in your refrigerator or freezer, depending on when you’re going to use them. If you’re going to use the walnuts right away, place them in your refrigerator. If you’ll be storing them for a month or longer, store them in your freezer.

How to Store Walnuts

If you buy walnuts in sealed packaging, you can store the walnuts in their original packaging. Once you open the bag, transfer the walnuts to an airtight container to maintain freshness. If you buy bulk walnuts, either in-shell or shelled, place the walnuts in an airtight container for long-term cold storage.

More Storage & Handling Tips

When storing walnuts in your refrigerator, store them away from foods with strong odors (e.g. fish, cabbage, onions). Walnuts can absorb the flavors of other foods

July 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm 5 comments

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