Simple, plant-powered summer meals

Published 9:00 am Saturday, March 21, 2020

With more than half of Americans willing to eat more plants and less meat in 2020 (and beyond), according to a study conducted by Yale and Earth Day Network, one thing holds true: Even when food is better for you and the planet, families crave quality taste.

Walnuts are one of the original plant-based superfoods that can carry sweet or savory flavors to satisfy snackers, add hearty crunch to salads or breakfast dishes and serve as a simple, whole-food meat alternative.

In addition to being a delicious plant-based staple, 1 ounce of walnuts contains important nutrients including 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and good fats with 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat and 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5 grams of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

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Try walnuts as an alternative to meat in recipes like Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos or Sweet Potato Walnut Falafel Bowls.

Sweet Potato Walnut Falafel Bowls. – Provided

Sweet Potato Walnut Falafel Bowls

Falafel ingredients

1 raw sweet potato (12 ounces), peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup California walnuts

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

Vegetable oil


Tahini Dressing ingredients

1/4 cup tahini

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt, to taste


Bowls ingredients

4 cups loosely packed curly kale, coarsely chopped

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup julienned carrots

1 avocado, sliced

Toasted, chopped California walnuts, for garnish (optional)

Minced red onion, for garnish (optional)



To make falafel: In food processor, pulse sweet potato until finely minced. Add quinoa, walnuts, ground cumin, onion powder and garlic powder; pulse until all pieces are uniform in size. Add flour and egg; pulse until well mixed, scraping down sides as needed.

Using wet hands, shape mixture into 16 equal balls.

In deep skillet or pot, heat oil. Cooking in batches, fry falafel balls 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Let drain on paper towel-lined tray.

To make tahini dressing: In small bowl, whisk tahini, lemon juice, water, maple syrup, ground cumin, garlic powder and salt.

To prepare bowls: Place equal amounts kale, quinoa, carrots and avocado in four large salad bowls. Place four falafel balls in each bowl and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with toasted walnuts and minced red onion, if desired.


Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos. – Provided

Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos

Pickled Vegetables ingredients

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

8 radishes, thinly sliced

2 medium jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced


Walnut Chorizo Crumble ingredients

1 1/2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups California walnuts

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon ground chipotle

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander


Tacos ingredients

16 whole wheat tortillas

Olive oil

Thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Fresh cilantro leaves

Lime wedges



To make pickled vegetables: In small bowl, stir lime juice, sugar and sea salt. Stir in radishes, jalapenos and garlic slices; let stand 30 minutes to pickle.

To make walnut “chorizo” crumble: In food processor, pulse beans and walnuts until coarsely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons oil, white vinegar, paprika, chili powder, oregano, salt, chipotle, cumin and coriander; pulse until mixture is finely chopped and resembles ground meat, stirring several times and moving mixture from bottom of food processor bowl to top to evenly mix.

In large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat remaining oil. Add “chorizo” mixture and cook 10 minutes, or until mixture is browned and resembles ground meat, stirring frequently.

To prepare tacos: Brush each tortilla lightly with oil. On skillet over medium-high heat, cook briefly to brown on both sides, keeping warm in foil until all tortillas are cooked.

Remove pickled vegetables from liquid and discard garlic slices. Fill each tortilla with equal amounts “chorizo” and pickled vegetables. Garnish with lettuce and cilantro; serve with lime wedges.