The Power of Walnuts!

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It's no secret that nuts and seeds are good for you. But which ones do you eat? Though almonds are great, walnuts are at the top of the nutritional pack. They help improve blood vessel function, decrease heart disease and diabetes risks, are full of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, protein and have a significant amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They pack around 185 calories in just 14 halves, so a small handful is all you need for a good dose of healthy fats and vitamins. 
Below are 5 heart healthy recipes that include this super food. Find ways to sneak this nut into your diet. Pair them with fruit for a snack, throw on your oatmeal or eat with a piece of dark chocolate at night. 
Turkey Walnut Meatballs
Ingredients:
6 oz. lean ground turkey
3/4 cup finely ground walnuts
1/4 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
2 tbs. egg whites
2 tsp. dried basil or oregano
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced, peeled tomatoes (no salt added)
1/4 cup organic tomato paste 
Combine turkey, walnuts, bread crumbs, egg whites and basil. Mix thoroughly and shape into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Coat skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. Add the meatballs and brown lightly on all sides. Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently for about five minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and oregano. Reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer about 20 minutes.
Walnut, Dill and Tuna Salad
Ingredients:
1 slice whole-grain bread
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken or veggie broth
3 tbs. chopped walnuts
2 tbs. nonfat greek yogurt
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 can chunk light tuna, drained and flaked
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tbs. chopped dill
pinch of cayenne
Puree bread, broth, walnuts, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add tuna, carrot, celery and dill. 
Walnut, Chocolate and Pumpkin Muffins
Ingredients:
1 cup whole-grain flour (or organic baking flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup pumpkin
2 large egg whites, whipped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup canola or coconut oil
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup organic dark chocolate chunks
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or olive oil. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda. Set aside. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, egg whites, vanilla, agave, soy milk and oil. Mix well. 
Combine these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add oats, walnuts and chocolate and stir gently. Fill muffin cups about halfway full. Bake for 20 minutes. 
Walnut Trail Mix
Ingredients:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup organic dark chocolate (or vegan carob chips)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
Combine and divide into individual containers.
Walnut Pumpkin Protein Shake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup pure pumpkin
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/3 cup walnuts
1 banana
1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
5 ice cubes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oatmeal (optional)
cinnamon
Blend ice, water and banana. Gradually add yogurt, whey protein, walnuts, cinnamon and oatmeal. Serve immediately. 

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