When I mention walnut cheese to clients, it often tends to evoke raised eyebrows, or the quick disqualification of “oh, that sounds like a lot of work.” But making walnut cheese at home is really as simple as making hummus. So here is my easy to make recipe.
Eastern View: Nuts are considered an important part of a Vata diet, as they supply fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They contain beneficial phytochemicals and plant sterols, which are believed to help moderate blood cholesterol. The volatile oils in nuts contain antioxidants that help counter free radical damage. Tree nuts like walnuts actually contain no cholesterol.
Walnuts are excellent for pacifying Vata. Walnuts are warm and stimulating, and nourishing stimulants are desired for cold, deficiency type Vata disorders. Since walnuts are also astringent due to tannins, some Vata individuals may find them constipating. Their oily nature mitigates this constipating effect somewhat though.
Walnuts look like brains and they are indeed considered a brain food in Ayurveda. They contain lecithin which is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that amplifies signals in the brain.
Vatas can sometimes be deficient in protein and protein deficiency causes weak digestion and sweet cravings. Walnuts used with digestive spices and ground into sauces are an important protein source for Vata types.
Like many brown colored nuts the brown coating on walnuts is full of tannins. Tannins are astringent, provoking Vata. You can feel this astringency as a tightening or rough effect on your tongue. For better tasting, less astringent walnuts, soak them in water for a few hours and drain. Or, boil for thirty seconds and strain. Roasting walnuts also destroys their astringency while preserving crunchiness.
Western View: the health benefits of walnuts include a reduction of bad cholesterol in the body, an improvement in metabolism, and control of diabetes.
Other important health benefits of walnuts are anti-inflammatory properties, they aid in weight management, and help as a mood booster. They are also believed to slow down the spread of cancer.
Scientific studies prove that the inclusion of walnuts in any diet helps prevent coronary heart diseases by favoring a healthy lipid supply. Studies also show that walnuts lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases level of good cholesterol (HDL) which in turn lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Essential fatty acids from walnuts secure bone health and walnut consumption improves metabolism. They, along with EFA’s, provide minerals to the body. These minerals help contribute to metabolic activities like growth and development, sperm generation, digestion, and nucleic acid synthesis.
People suffering from diabetes can have walnuts on a regular basis without any significant weight gain, since they contain a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, as per research conducted by Gillen et al. (2005) at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Their studies suggest that the intake of nuts is inversely proportional to the risk of developing type-II diabetes. So go ahead – eat your nuts!
1 cup California walnut halves
2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white (aka yellow or mellow) miso
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Raw vegetables and crackers, for serving
Place walnuts in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 3 to 4 inches. Set aside at room temperature to soak for at least 12 hours.
Drain soaking liquid then rinse walnuts under cold water. Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade and process until they become paste-like. Add the oil, 2 tablespoons of water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and miso and puree until smooth and creamy, at least 5 minutes. Stop the processor periodically to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl. (Add an additional 1 or 2 tablespoons of water as needed to help the mixture blend.)
Taste and season with salt, as desired.
Place it in the fridge until chilled slightly, about 20 minutes. Serve topped with finely chopped herbs and a drizzle of walnut oil along with raw vegetables and crackers.
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