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All About Walnut Milk

For all of the fervor surrounding nut milks in the early 2010s, no company ever produced a walnut milk until just two years ago. Well, better late than never. This cerebral nut (both in shape and health-promoting properties), encapsulated within a beautiful woody shell, is nutritional gold as far as plants go and we’re delighted it’s finally receiving the attention it deserves. Sometimes it doesn't matter how or why it happens – as long as it happens. So goes the existence of walnut milk, derived from a nut long-heralded for its taste, nutritional, and even supernatural qualities (the last, unfortunately, we cannot confirm). Here are some fast facts: 1

  • Walnuts are not botanically a nut, but the edible seeds of a species of stone fruit
  • The most common species of walnuts are the Persian and English walnuts, originating in Iran and spreading into Europe; as well as the black walnut, native to North America
  • Flowers or vegetables should never be planted near walnut trees because they secrete chemicals into the surrounding soil that prevent the growth of vegetation
  • Walnuts can be candied, pickled, ground into nut butter, incorporated into baked goods, or used as the star ingredient in dishes such as the Iranian stew, Fesenjan, or walnut pies
  • In folk medicine, walnuts were one of 38 ingredients used to prepare Bach flower remedies, elixirs traditionally believed to boost immunity
  • Husks of walnuts were once used to make various inks for writing and painting purposes, as well as dyes for fabric and hair

Walnut Milk Nutrition Facts

It is often easier to comprehend nutritional benefits by way of comparison. Luckily, there are two commercially available walnut milks out there, and one beats the other by a nutritional landslide. Please keep in mind that while assessing your options, calories and fat are not inherently harmful. The indication of a higher calorie count on a package simply means more walnuts. After all, isn’t that what you’re expecting? Moreover, modern scientific discoveries have revealed that natural fats do not heighten our risk for cardiovascular disease, but in fact, do just the opposite. 2 Walnuts, high in polyunsaturated fats – specifically omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your heart beating strong! 3 4

Elmhurst's Original Walnut Milk has 4g of fat (Omega-6 & Omega-3) and 3g of protein per serving, compared to 2.5g of fat and 1g of protein per serving for Mariani’s original walnut milk. The reason is appropriately simple: Elmhurst uses more walnuts than its competitor, epitomizing what walnut milk can – and should – be. Nowhere is this clearer than its promise, featured boldly on the package, to deliver 1400mg Omega-3 per glass.

Where Mariani does "win" (irony intended) is the ingredient count. The score is 15 to 5; Mariani's original walnut milk has ten more ingredients than Elmhurst’s Original Walnut Milk, including sunflower lecithin, gellan gum, and locust bean gum - not exactly dietary essentials. The score is even more lopsided in unsweetened: Mariani's unsweetened still has 15 ingredients; Elmhurst’s Unsweetened Milked Walnuts: 2 – walnuts and water.

So, in channeling the glory of the walnut, Elmhurst is much simpler and better.

Benefits of Walnut Milk

To enjoy the essence of walnut milk, we must start with the source ingredient: walnuts! Walnuts are:

  • Low in carbs (unsweetened varieties only), high in fat and high protein
    • All work together to help to keep blood sugar levels steady
  • Rich in antioxidants
    • Walnuts are especially high in two group of antioxidants: ellagitannins and tocopherols, and beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts have been found to convert ellagitannins to compounds called urolithins, protective against inflammation 5
    • In a study evaluating the efficacy of walnuts’ antioxidants on oxidative stress after a meal, adults were given a meal composed of walnuts or refined ingredients. Blood tests following the meal found that only the participants who consumed the meal high in walnuts experienced protection from oxidative damage 6
  • A great source of essential fatty acids
    • Walnuts are primarily comprised of polyunsaturated fatty acids (72% of total fats), particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (14%) and linoleic acid (58%) 7
    • Observational studies have shown that each gram of ALA you eat per day lowers your risk of dying from heart disease by 10% 8
    • ALA is also found to be neuroprotective, 9 and observational studies in older adults have linked eating walnuts improved cognition, including faster problem solving and better memory 10
  • A good source of fiber
    • An ounce of walnuts has 2g of fiber, which has been shown to promote growth a healthy gut microbiome 11 and help with weight control 12
    • A study of ~200 adults consuming 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day for 2 months found that they experienced a significant increase in the beneficial bacteria, Bifidobacteria 13
    • In a study of 10 obese people, drinking a smoothie made with 1.75 ounces (48 grams) of walnuts per day for 5 days decreased appetite and hunger, compared to a placebo drink comparable in its macronutrient quality and calorie count 14

Is Walnut Milk Good for You?

This depends. The benefits illustrated above do not generalize to all walnut milks. The other major brand is little more than a water emulsion, loaded with thickeners to enhance the mouthfeel and fortified with vitamins to compensate for lost nutrients. Elmhurst's HydroRelease™ process, by contrast, yields a product with a higher ratio of nuts to water, preserving all of the walnuts' micro- and micronutrients and drawing creaminess from the key ingredient itself.

Walnut Milk Recipes

One wonderful thing about walnut milk, as with other plant-based milks, is its versatility. Anything is possible: walnut milk ice cream, walnut milk smoothies, walnut milk yogurt, and certainly more. Here are a few recipes to tantalize your taste buds as you travel boldly past the frontiers of convention.

Banana Bread Pancakes

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ Cups Elmhurst Unsweetened Walnut Milk
  • 1 ½ Cups Bananas, Ripe and Mashed
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 ½ Cups Flour All Purpose (May Substitute Gluten-Free)
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Earth Balance, Melted

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl combine Elmhurst Milked US Walnuts, mashed banana, and vanilla extract. Whisk together until ingredients are blended together and smooth. Set aside for later use.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. With a rubber spatula fold in the wet and dry ingredients, then let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Over medium heat, ladle about ¼ cup of the batter onto hot griddle. When the batter starts to bubble, flip and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  4. Serve with maple syrup and chopped walnuts and enjoy!

Walnut Carmel Sauce

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add Elmhurst US Milked Walnuts and sugar, and bring to a boil. Stir gently to prevent sugar from sticking to the sides of the pot. Once the entire surface of the sugar is boiling, add the lemon juice. Do no stir.
  2. Allow to boil for 3 minutes - until the sugar goes from clear to a lightly golden-brown color. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and whisk in Earth Balance. Put back onto the heat, allow to boil and whisk constantly for 3 minutes.
  3. Whisk for 1 minute and add chopped walnuts. Transfer pot to an ice water bath. Whisk vigorously - you’re trying to incorporate a little bit of air while cooling down the caramel.
  4. As the caramel cools it will thicken up, if it starts to get too thick add 1 tbsp of Elmhurst US Milked Walnuts and continue to whisk. Add more milk and whisk if needed.
  5. Sit back relax and enjoy!

Schwartz's Streusel Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Elmhurst Original Walnut Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • ⅓ Cup Tofu, Soft or Firm
  • 2 ¼ Cups All Purpose Flour (May Substitute Gluten-Free)
  • 1 ¼ Cups Light Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tsp Ground Cinnamon, Divided
  • 1 ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ¾ Cup Vegetable Oil (May Substitute Canola Oil)
  • ¾ Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda

Preparation

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine Elmhurst Milked Oats, vanilla, and dates.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, 2 ½ tsp. of the cinnamon, ginger, salt and oil until they are well-blended. Transfer 1 ¼ cups of this mixture to a small bowl. Mix in the remaining cinnamon and the walnuts, and set it aside.
  3. To the remaining flour mixture, add the baking powder, baking soda, and blended tofu mixture and stir until the batter is smooth. Spread the batter evenly in the baking dish. Pour the flour and nut mixture from the small bowl over the top.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center to ensure it comes out clean.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Why Choose Elmhurst?

No doubt other walnut milks will turn up, but it's hard to see the "first mover" being dethroned. This, of course, is Elmhurst. Whereas other brands use nuts in their milks, Elmhurst transforms nuts into milk. Plant milks and dairy alternatives will cycle in and out, some trying very hard to balance purity, nutrition, and flavor; others merely masquerading. Remember, at the end of the day, only one company has a way of making plant-based milks – whether it be walnut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or any number of others – entirely true to the source, maximizing flavor and nutritive value.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Walnut. 2019; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walnut. Accessed July 5, 2019, 2019.
  2. Fattore E, Massa E. Dietary fats and cardiovascular health: a summary of the scientific evidence and current debate. International journal of food sciences and nutrition. 2018;69(8):916-927.
  3. Arnarson A. Walnuts 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. 2019; https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/walnuts. Accessed July 5, 2019, 2019.
  4. Ander BP, Dupasquier CM, Prociuk MA, Pierce GN. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and their effects on cardiovascular disease. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2003;8(4):164-172.
  5. Sanchez-Gonzalez C, Ciudad CJ, Noe V, Izquierdo-Pulido M. Health benefits of walnut polyphenols: An exploration beyond their lipid profile. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2017;57(16):3373-3383.
  6. Haddad EH, Gaban-Chong N, Oda K, Sabate J. Effect of a walnut meal on postprandial oxidative stress and antioxidants in healthy individuals. Nutrition journal. 2014;13:4.
  7. NutritionData S. Nuts, walnuts, english [Includes USDA commodity food A259, A257]. 2018; https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3138/2. Accessed July 5, 2019, 2019.
  8. Pan A, Chen M, Chowdhury R, et al. alpha-Linolenic acid and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2012;96(6):1262-1273.
  9. Hadjighassem M, Kamalidehghan B, Shekarriz N, et al. Oral consumption of alpha-linolenic acid increases serum BDNF levels in healthy adult humans. Nutrition journal. 2015;14:20.
  10. Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B. Role of walnuts in maintaining brain health with age. The Journal of nutrition. 2014;144(4 Suppl):561s-566s.
  11. Holscher HD. Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut microbes. 2017;8(2):172-184.
  12. Slavin JL. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif). 2005;21(3):411-418.
  13. Bamberger C, Rossmeier A, Lechner K, et al. A Walnut-Enriched Diet Affects Gut Microbiome in Healthy Caucasian Subjects: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(2).
  14. Farr OM, Tuccinardi D, Upadhyay J, Oussaada SM, Mantzoros CS. Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over fMRI study. Diabetes, obesity & metabolism. 2018;20(1):173-177.

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