seven easy pieces…have some brain food on the go!

You can find the most interesting pages on Facebook, don’t you think?  Just playing around with links to friends’ interests I stumbled upon the page, “WALNUTS LOOK LIKE BRAINS.” It turns out the site isn’t devoted to the love of walnuts, but it did get me thinking. Did you know that the Romans and the Ancient Chinese thought that since walnuts looked like a brain (who hasn’t thought that?) they must be GOOD for the brain!  Well, their rationale might have been faulty, but they were certainly correct about the dietary brain boosting benefits of walnuts. Just this past week I discovered a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluding that walnuts contribute to improved cognitive function. Although much more research is needed to understand studies linking diet to the fine points of overall health, we do know that our bodies function better with good nutrition, so I am suggesting that eating a small handful of walnuts every day is a good idea.

One book I keep handy is Dr. Stephen Pratt’s book, SuperFoods RX and I try to ensure that the food items he promotes for their various health benefits are constant staples in our home. It’s not unusual for me to emphasize three or four on the list and forget some of the others–but now that it’s fall, walnuts have hit the top of the list and it doesn’t get much better for brain food than raw, unsalted walnuts!

Walnuts are also linked to helping control cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation.  There is even a study providing evidence that adding a few walnuts to the Mediterranean Diet strengthens the positive correlation in overall metabolism and resorption status–contributing to good bone health and significant reductions in fasting insulin levels in adults with non-insulin treated diabetes. Sounds good to me!

Worried about calories? Good news! The calories in a small number of walnuts, (and the benefits are derived in eating only seven!) add up to more dietary efficiency than a bag of chips and are more cost efficient than any of the individually packaged snacks!  And seven satisfying walnuts (have more if you’re not calorie conscious) add only 184 extremely beneficial calories to your daily intake, fewer calories than that bag of chips! So throw a few in with your lunch or a mid-afternoon snack and see what you discover for yourself.

Pasta with walnut sauce...YUM!

Walnut oil is another delightful option.  In Medieval France this delicate, light-colored specialty was often used as currency.  And when was the last time you even thought of it? You might try drizzling walnut oil over baked acorn squash, whisking it lightly into fresh salad dressing, and it’s delightful added to beluga lentils. Yum!  Walnut oil adds a nice finish to roasted root vegetables, too.  Sounds like fall, doesn’t it? Walnut oil is best unheated, but with its many uses, strike up your culinary imagination!

And if good sleep is a problem for you, walnuts also seem to triple melatonin levels in the body.  Maybe a pre-bedtime snack of walnuts will do you more good than that last “good-night” cookie?

I’d love to know how you use walnuts or walnut oil. What is your culinary style?  Let me hear from you!

My niece gave me this beautifully carved walnut as a gift! A good reminder to eat more delicious walnuts!

Here’s to well-being! …Debra

Enjoying the Los Angeles County Fair, bears and sharks included!

Farmer Girls

Princesses, Sharks and Bears, oh my!  Not the typical word-links you associate with theLos Angeles County Fair, huh?  But this year, it was true!  In addition to petting zoos, milking contests, hay-baling exhibitions and corn grinding experiences, the Fair offered a huge shark tank, a performing bear exhibition and a Princess Playhouse—not to mention a Jungle Camp and Jurassic Planet, a Bio-Research Facility.

I wondered why this year we didn’t hear the usual ad campaigns mocking clueless Angelinos for their lack of experience with farm animals.  I kind of missed the previous ad campaign good-naturedly jabbing, “Come and see where your lattes come from,” or “Come pet a goat and discover how your Angora sweaters are made.”

Corn grinding is noisy!

The Los Angeles County Fair—the largest County Fair in all of North America attracts nearly a million and a half visitors each year, and if it weren’t for the “must-see” experience of introducing our two city girls to my personal favorites, baby pigs, I would be more than happy to say, “If you’ve been to one County Fair, you’ve been to enough.” But this Fair was really quite the exception to our previous experiences, and partnered with two very enthusiastic preschoolers we truly had a wonderful time.

Those aren't baby pigs!

The girls were naturally quite enthralled with the cows, goats and pigs, but after an hour or two of milling about the hands-on barnyard experiences we wandered into the exhibits that seemed entirely out-of-place.  We stumbled upon the Welde’s Bear Show, an exhibition of Brown Bear performers—not your average County Fair experience. Following the path from the “Wilderness Ridge” we entered the Australian jungle with kangaroos, wallabies and joeys—who knew?  By the time we hit the shark tank we were losing steam, and it seemed like perhaps it was time to be on our way.

County Fair bears?

Two very tired girls weren’t at all sure they really cared about the Jurassic Planet and we figured it was time to go. But then, out of nowhere, there it was!  The Land of Frogs, Princesses and Knights!  Two little girlie girls, jaws dropping open in wonder, almost floated into a large, outdoor dress-up and imaginary play area with at least 100 other little girls suddenly energized by the opportunity to try on princess costumes, complete with heels and tiaras. Their grandfather had now been without sleep for almost 24 hours so with a huge sigh asked me, “Is this really important?” Ha!  He was obviously never a preschool-age girl was he?

Two princesses!

If there is anything contributing to my own well-being, I think it must be hanging around two inquisitive and playful little girls…they are my personal fountain of youth!

…Debra

The Welde’s Bears and Grizzly Falls.

Saturday Paws–When is a Walk more than a Walk?

Rescue Dogs can’t always tell us how they feel about leashes and walks. Maybe they have previously been tied down or chained in a small area—we don’t know the associations they make and whether or not they have been easily ‘leashed’ dogs.

A couple of years ago I came out of our local Target and found a fairly large Bulldog in the parking lot. This noble and loving dog looked like it had been hit by a vehicle– his hide was matted with blood, and as the dog accepted water and kind words from me I could see ‘parts’ of a choke collar around his neck. With closer inspection I could see that the collar was actually still intact– but the chain had become embedded in his neck folds and skin had grown over in areas.

As I waited for the Rescue van to come for this loving dog I really wondered how he could be so sweet to a complete stranger when obviously he had known such torture! It was clear he had been chained for a very long time, so much so that when the rescue staff examined him they corrected my assumption that a car had hit the dog. This poor Boxer, more than likely with years of being tied outdoors in the dirt and with no care, had the most advanced and serious case of Mange! Believe me! After I said good-bye to this brave creature I returned home to cuddle my dogs more than ever!

This is just one of the more memorable situations that has shaped my interest in rescue dogs and in supporting Humane Societies and Pet Rescues! So let me direct you today to a great event that you might like to support!  Check out www.wigglewagglewalk.org and you will find one of the funniest public walks around town! The day starts off with a 1K or 3K walk, with or without your pets, and booths, pet information, and special activities are available throughout the day. One of my favorites is the Agility Demo–those dogs are amazing!

Oh goody! Walk time!

I hope you’ll check it out! You may be wondering if Mae-be and Ruffles will be attending?  Me, too! I’ll have to see how Mae-be feels about it. I have taken Mae-be to Doggy Parks to evaluate her social comforts with other dogs and she stays right next to me. I do keep her leash on after she shied away from other approaching dogs– some say the leash helps a dog to feel the bond with its human.

No, I WANT to wear the pink collar!

Now Ruffles would love to go! She’s naturally more social, having spent the first four months of her life with other pet shop puppies. Then before I received her she lived in a foster home with a number of animals. She was on her way to the Wheaten Terrier Rescue, but then my wise friend convinced me that she could indeed hold her own with a good-sized Boxer!

So supporting the local Rescue and Humane Societies is near and dear to my heart, and it would be just great to see YOU at the Wiggle Waggle!

And to answer the question, When is a Walk more than a Walk? Well, when the walk is a bonding experience between you and your dog, OR when it helps support pet rescue!

Blessings, Beth & the girls