Dietitian’s Pick of the Month – California Walnuts!

Basil spinach pesto with Walnuts

(recipe below)

What makes walnuts heart healthy?

Walnuts are the only nut that have omega 3 fats, they can reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

They contain powerful antioxidants. Walnuts are loaded with healthy fat and fiber — two things that can help you feel full, contributing to weight loss.

Cooking with walnuts

Mix into breading for fish or chicken, a great gluten-free option.
Toast and top salads, pastas, or soups.
Stir into batter for baked goods.  I love in pancakes or muffins.
Puree into sauces, spreads, and dips.

Basil-Spinach Pesto with Walnuts

Recipe courtesy of Makes 16 servings


⅓ c. Hy-Vee walnuts, finely chopped

1 c. packed basil leaves (about 2 oz)

1 c. packed spinach leaves (about 2 oz)

½ c. Hy-Vee finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. minced garlic

½ tsp. Hy-Vee kosher sea salt

pinch red pepper flakes, optional

⅔ c. Hy-Vee Select extra-virgin olive oil 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place walnuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes; remove and set aside to cool.
  3. In a food processor, combine basil, spinach, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes, if desired. Cover and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add oil and process until thoroughly combined.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw frozen pesto in refrigerator overnight.

Nutrition facts per serving: 110 calories, 11g fat, 2g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 115mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 2g protein

Besides snacking on them, what are some interesting ways to eat walnuts? Although each type of nuts has a distinct flavor, you can easily swap in walnuts for other nuts in recipes. Try incorporating them into breading for chicken or fish; in baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and breads; on top of cereals, yogurts, and fruits; and they’re especially nice when toasted and used to top pasta and soups. Other ideas include using them in salsas, pestos, aiolis, or ground and mixed into meatloaf, burger patties, or meatballs.

What’s the best way to store walnuts? Because of their high fat content, walnuts can go rancid rather quickly. If you plan to use them right away, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just remember to keep them away from odorous foods such as onions. For longer storage, store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Contact Hy-Vee Becky Guittar, RD, LMNT at, 402-567-5505 or for questions or assistance. I have cooking classes and tours for adults and kids, consultations, and more available.  Find more recipes at




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s