I Just Noticed: Walnuts Are Food

The package of chopped walnuts we bought tonight proclaims their perfection for baking or snacking. The pack of of diced walnuts already in the pantry features a recipe for banana walnut bread, but offers no other suggestions. Until recently, my only savory-dish use for walnuts was in my Thanksgiving stuffing, where they barely rate a passing mention in the options (though, truth be told, I haven't made stuffing without them for years).

That's changed. I've recently become infatuated with walnuts in stir-fries and other throw-together wok dishes. They dance beautifully with beets, snuggle up to onions, provide a more textured counterpoint to tofu. They're a source of protein and omega-3s, so if you're looking for omega-3s but don't like cooking with fish (we don't; small apartment, sensitive noses) they've got that going on.

But mostly, they're just really yummy.

Clipart Squirrel Prefers Peanuts. Rock On, Clipart Squirrel.

At every fresh stage of my descent into dietary restrictions, I seem to meet at least one thing so pleasurable that I'd keep it around even if my health were magically restored. This is the latest. If the diet genie said "you can just put ground beef in everything again," I'd still get cravings for shredded beets with walnuts, tossed in a nice hot wok with some sweetness and spice.

I just feel foolish for never tossing walnuts in the wok before now, before cholesterol became another Thing I Have to Watch, before getting some omega-3s became a goal. I wish someone had mentioned it, so, I'm mentioning it: walnuts are boss as legit, main-dish food.

Not just walnuts, of course. I've always liked slivered almonds with green beans, but I never treated them as an everyday cooking protein 'til now. I've always liked pine nuts in a pesto or sunflower seeds in fresh bread. But now, I've mentally shifted all of them from "these are nice snacky items" to "these are staple proteins to pile veggies onto."

Our new diet isn't wholly vegetarian, but for cholesterol reasons, it's mostly vegetarian, and while we like some tofu just fine, we love some variety just finer. My tip for today is just: even if you have no dietary reason to toss walnuts (or whatever nuts/seeds/legumes you're into) into your wok, you might find the pure-pleasure reasons equally compelling.