“You can’t just eat whatever you like and then save yourself with walnuts,” she explained. “Their study shows that walnuts only lower your cholesterol if your diet is low in saturated fat.” These aren’t the ideal words to hear as you tuck into a bowl of creamy gorgonzola risotto, but I guess I had to hear the truth at some stage. Sadly, good fat doesn’t cancel bad fat.
Walnuts are topical in research about dietary cholesterol because they contain omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, so long as your diet is low in saturated and trans fats. The omega-6 fats can’t be manufactured by the body, so they have to come from your diet. They’re found in pecans, brazil nuts and pine nuts as well as walnuts.
Other nuts have good fats in them too. Monounsaturated fats are found in hazelnuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts. If you look beyond nuts they’re also found in tahini (sesame seeds), avocado, olive oil and canola oil. In short, eating nuts is a convenient way to include good fats in your diet, which can lower your cholesterol.
Unfortunately sprinkling walnuts on your icecream with chocolate sauce won’t cancel out the bad fats with good ones. How disappointing! The idea is to replace your bad fats with good ones, rather than just supplementing them. Nuts instead of bickies for snacks then? It would be a lot more fun to eat nutty bickies, and I think this recipe is low enough in bad fats to allow us to do just that. It’s butterless and full of almonds, but most importantly it tastes like a treat.
These Greek Almond Biscuits are sweet and fragrant with vanilla. The texture is beautifully chewy at the centre, and you can coat them in flaked almonds for a crunchy exterior if you like. They’re remarkably quick to prepare too, so long as you have a reasonable success rate at separating eggs. What do you do with the yolks? I’ll leave that one up to you. The temptation to turn them into rich chocolate fudge truffles is strong, but this article is meant to be a healthy one!
Almond Horns (Greek Style Almond Biscuits)
Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Best Food Desserts
3 cups almond meal
1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence (or 1 tsp vanilla bean extract)
3 egg whites, beaten lightly
1 cup flaked almonds (for coating, I often leave these out)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Spread two biscuit slides with baking paper.
Combine almond meal, caster sugar and vanilla.
Add egg whites and mix to a firm paste.
Roll tablespoons of mixture into logs. If you’re coating in flaked nuts do this next. Then shape the mixture into cresent or horn shapes. The mixture will be a bit sticky, but it shouldn’t stick all over your hands. You can add more almond meal if required.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown.