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Pack a crunchy punch!

Did you know that plant-based eating doesn't necessarily mean that you need to go meat-free? While fruits and vegetables, whole grains and a variety of protein-rich foods like beans and peas, and soy (like edamame) are the mainstays of plant-based eating, low-fat milk and dairy products, seafood and lean meat/poultry or eggs can also be added to recipes in small amounts, if desired. One can also include nuts like walnuts and seeds to their plant-based dishes to add an extra crunch of creaminess and flavour.

Walnuts are known to be a source of good fats and these crunchy delights are the only tree nut with a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acid. Incorporating walnuts into plant-based meals is a simple and convenient way of adding essential nutrients into one's daily diet.

So, try out these fresh and colourful recipes that give your favourite dishes an instant plant-based makeover right away!

Roasted walnut and cauliflower tacos

Ingredients:

Filling

1 head cauliflower, small, chopped

1 cup California walnut pieces, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

¾ cup onion, minced

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, medium, seeded, minced

½ cup water

¼ cup tomato paste

2 teaspoons chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 teaspoon oregano, dried

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Tacos

12 tortillas, corn, small, warmed

1 ½ cup green cabbage, shredded

¾ cup cheese, crumbled

½ cup walnuts, chopped & toasted

Cilantro leaves, fresh

Lime wedges

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 245°C. Coat cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil; place on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 170°C and toast walnuts for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add to pan with cauliflower.

3. Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic and jalapeno, cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in water, tomato paste, chilli powder, cumin, oregano and salt; cook until mixture is thick and excess water has cooked off. Stir in cauliflower mixture.

4. Spoon mixture into warmed tortillas and top with cabbage, cheese, walnuts and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Optional: Cauliflower mixture may be ground in a food processor so that it resembles the texture of ground meat.

Chicken-walnut lettuce wraps:

Ingredients

1 large carrot, minced

1 stalk celery, minced

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 bell pepper, minced

2 scallions, minced

3 cup minced cilantro

8 snow peas, trimmed and cut into thin strips

1 cooked chicken breast, diced

1 tablespoon chilli paste

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons Chinese sesame oil

1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

Salt and pepper to taste

6 leaves butter (Boston) lettuce—cleaned, dried, and chilled

Preparation:

1. Combine the vegetables and chicken in a medium bowl.

2. Combine the chili paste, vinegar, and sesame oil, then pour this into the other ingredients, and toss to coat, adding walnuts as you go.

3. Divide the mixture among the lettuce leaves and serve cold.

- Recipes curated by Chef Sabyasachi Gorai

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