Tasty Tuesdays – Spicy Walnut and Pecan Mix

These nuts are exactly what their name suggests, spicy!  This mix is very easy to prepare and is great to put out at a party or take as a host/hostess gift.  Since walnuts contain large concentrations of fats this mix is also highly perishable. So, if not eaten immediately, these nuts should be kept in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer where they can be stored for six months or one year, respectively.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Whisk egg whites only in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk all spices and honey into foamy egg whites.
  • Add measured nuts and stir until thoroughly coated.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread out the mixed nuts.
  • Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 250° and continue to bake for 5-10 minutes.
  • Lightly salt to taste.

Interesting Facts

Walnuts are a member of the very healthy tree nut family, which also includes cashews, hazelnuts and pecans (Teuber et al., 2003).  Millions of tons of this brain shaped nut are harvested annually and eaten because of their delicious taste and high content of heart healthy fats.  In fact, 1 ounce of walnuts (approximately 7 nuts) provides 2.5 g of monounsaturated fatty acids, 13.4 g of polyunsaturated fatty acids and no cholesterol (USDA, 2012).  This is an excellent combination since the majority of the daily recommended intake of fat should be from unsaturated sources (American Heart Association, 2012).  It has been shown in countless studies that these fatty acids are vital to improving overall cardiovascular function (Chow, Chapter 44, 2008).  Eating walnuts has also been shown to aid in weight loss, play a role in preventing obesity and decrease fat deposition in the mid-section (Wu et al., 2010).  Walnuts also contain a variety of nutrients including; calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, B, E and K (USDA, 2012).  Vitamin E is a robust fat-soluble antioxidant which protects the body from oxygen free radicals during fat oxidation and is vital for the maintenance of cell membrane structure (Sathe et al., 2009).  Recently, Ma and colleagues (2010) randomized individuals with type 2 diabetes to a diet with or without walnuts.  After two weeks, it was found that participants who consumed the walnut rich diet had improved vasodilatation which equated to a reduction in their risk of cardiovascular disease.  As well, walnuts have been shown to improve blood lipid levels (Tapsell et al., 2004) and energy balance among people living with type 2 diabetes (Gillen et al., 2005).  The evidence is clear when it comes to the benefits of walnut consumption on this specific population.  Although the walnuts blend of unsaturated fats is deemed healthy, it’s important to keep in mind that too much may not be beneficial.  In fact, exceeding the daily recommended amount may be deleterious to your health, so enjoy this nourishing nut in moderation.

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