In honor of tomorrow being Meatless Monday, I tried my hand at making Walnut Tacos this evening and I’m already hooked. This is about to become a staple in our home!
Walnuts are roughly $9 for a 16 oz. bag and this recipe calls for 8 oz. so you will have half of a bag of walnuts leftover for snacking. A pound of organic grass-fed meat is easily $7 and gone in one use. Cheaper to make than meat tacos and vegan- I’m in!
- 8 oz. Walnuts, crushed into fine pieces
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro (or parsley)
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil
- 3 TBSP Garlic Infused Olive Oil
- Lemon or lime- half
- Taco Seasoning: 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, dash sea salt. (Or buy a packet of reduced-sodium taco seasoning- no judgement here- it’s easier!)
Crush walnuts into small pieces with a masher. Remove 1/4 cup and pulse into a powder. Add back to bowl with larger pieces and stir in 3 TBSP garlic- olive oil and juice from half of lemon. Set aside.
Saute veggies in 2 TBSP olive oil and a pinch of sea salt until tender. Add walnut mixture, remove from heat and quickly stir in taco seasoning until fully incorporated.
Serve immediately on gluten free or whole wheat tortillas with vegan cheese, fresh cilantro, and a dollop of (not vegan)- plain Greek yogurt.
Get creative! Saute in kale, black beans, or stir in milled ground flax seed for more Omega-3’s.
Walnuts and Sustainable Local Agriculture
We talk often about the importance of buying local and supporting the U.S. economy; walnuts are a great way to support agriculture in America. Better yet-reducing our reliance on meat as a protein source. Did you know…
More than 99% of the walnuts in U.S. are grown in the fertile soils of California’s Central Valley. Internationally, California walnuts supply three-quarters of the world’s walnut trade. 
Meat production comes with a huge environmental cost. The resources to raise, slaughter, package, and transport meat places strain on our environment, especially greenhouse gas emissions. “A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.” 
56% of the water used in America is used on livestock.  This is a huge amount! Cattle agriculture in California uses up more water than any other activity. 
The amount of water used to produce 1 lb of beef protein is roughly 5,214 gallons per 1 lb.  It only takes 4.9 gallons of water to produce 1 walnut. 
One walnut taco (1/4 cup taco mix) is about 30 crushed walnuts that equates to about 147 gallons of water per serving. One meat taco (1/4 cup meat) equates to about 869 gallons of water per serving (5,214 divided by 6 *servings).
Meat: 869 gallons of water used vs. Walnuts: 147 gallons of water used to make one serving. This is a HUGE difference!
Walnuts are dense in the Omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic-acid (ALA). One serving provides 25% Copper, 10% Magnesium and Phosphorous, and 4% DV of Iron. They also contain antioxidants, fiber, and protein.
California-grown walnuts are not genetically modified (big plus!). Did you know that walnuts are naturally gluten-free? 
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts such as walnuts, and fiber can help reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated whether walnuts (providing ALA) and fatty fish (providing EPA and DHA) have similar effects on specific blood markers associated with Coronary Heart Disease. The study found that a diet including walnuts was more powerful in reducing total and LDL (bad) cholesterol when compared to fatty fish. 
As far as sustainability goes please choose plant based proteins whenever you can. They are healthier for your body and better for the environment! Simple.
- Walnuts Nutritional Information- About Walnuts from www.walnuts.org . Accessed January 22, 2016.
- Why Going Vegan is the Ultimate New Year’s Resolution. www.peta.org. Accessed January 22, 2016.
- Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. www.cowspiracy.com
- Fox, Justin. April 13, 2015. Cows Suck up more Water than Almonds. www.bloombergview.com
- Vegetarianism and the Environment: Why Going Meatless is Important. michaelbluejay.com Accessed January 21, 2016.
- Park, Alex and Lurie, Julie. February 24, 2014. It Takes How Much Water to Produce an Almond? www.motherjones.com