Walnuts play a major role in the nutrition of all eastern European nations. For Greeks, walnuts have been one of those foods that were considered worthy of Gods. As I already wrote, fatty food was recognised as divine in the antiquity. Ancient Greeks knew of the enormous energy and health benefits of walnuts. From the old times, they are mentioned in connection with intellectual abilities – the nut itself has the shape of the human brain!
The secret from the forest
When we talk about health benefits, a handful of nuts is a great choice. But compared to other nuts the walnuts contain twice as many antioxidants. There are twenty types of walnuts. The most famous kind is Persian walnut Juglans regia originating in Asia and the Far East. Second most common kind of walnuts is called Juglans nigra native to North America. They contain antioxidants, high-quality fatty acids, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, vitamins B, E and K.
The miracle of Alpha-linolenic acid
Regular consumption of walnuts significantly reduces the risk of heart disease. Walnuts contain large amounts of alpha-linolenic acid. This is a type of omega 3 fatty acid that is only found in plants and plays an important role in maintaining heart health. Alpha-linolenic acid protects against inflammation of the blood vessels. It reduces the risk of heart attack and normalizes blood pressure.
Walnut is a small brain
Isn’t it? When you look at it, the walnut core reminds you of a small brain. As if mother nature is giving us a message. Walnuts enhance cognitive abilities and normal development of bodily functions. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating walnuts reduces LDL cholesterol and increases the level of good cholesterol.
Walnuts as cancer prevention
These mysterious nuts contain large amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. Therefore, no wonder they have a significant effect on cancer prevention. The research conducted at Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia confirms that phytosterols and antioxidants in walnuts can prevent breast cancer. They are also beneficial in the prevention of prostate cancer!
Can it help diabetes?
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat found in walnuts help to maintain a normal level of insulin. The research at Harvard Public Health School found that women who consumed 30 grams of walnuts five times a week had a 30% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Abundance in antioxidants
A large number of phytonutrients are present in walnuts. Ellagic acid, ellagiconin, vitamin E, polyphenols and carotenoids – all of these substances serve as powerful antioxidants. These compounds can help your body fight against ageing, cancer, neurological diseases, depression, and inflammation.
Greek Karidopita – Nutrient treasure cakes
Since all Greek cakes always get tremendous popularity, I decided to “Ketonise” the Karidopita recipe. The Greek name for walnuts [karydia], according to Plutarch, comes from the word “Karos”. Apparently, those sleeping under a walnut tree inhaled its heavy fragrance and fell into a deep sleep. Walnuts were especially popular in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. So, the name Karidopita means walnut pie. In the original version, it’s made of breadcrumbs and ground walnuts. To imitate this texture, I will use ground flaxseed and crushed walnuts. This way our Karidopita will stay Keto friendly and provide us with the same experience. As always, I recommend using 100% organic ingredients and approaching the cake preparation with patience.
Shall we begin?
Keto Karidopita - Walnut cake
- 6 large eggs free-range
- 100 g butter Grass-fed, softened
- 100 g flaxseed Organic, ground
- 100 g walnuts Crushed
- 2 tbsp stevia Or according to your sweetener power
- 1 tsp baking soda Aluminium-free
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground clove
- 400 ml filtered water
- 4 tbsp stevia
- 1 tsp vanilla extract Alcohol-free
- 1/2 lemon Organic, sliced
- 1 tbsp ground beef gelatine Grass-fed
Icing - Optional
- 200 g Mascarpone Additive-free*
- 100 ml lemon juice
- 12 pieces walnuts
- 1 tbsp stevia
- 2 tbsp lemon zest Organic
- 100 ml sparkling mineral water
First, prepare the syrup. Slice half of an organic lemon and place it into a deep pot. Add stevia, vanilla extract, gelatine and water. mix well so that the gelatine dissolves. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Set it aside to cool down. Remove the lemon slices.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with softened butter. Add stevia, lemon juice and baking soda.
Combine crushed walnuts, cinnamon, ground clove and flaxseed in another bowl and start adding this mixture to the cake batter spoon by spoon. Keep beating at a slower speed.
Grease a 25 cm cake mould with some butter and pour in the cake batter. Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes.
When the cake is baked, stub it with a sharp knife several times so that it can "drink" the syrup.
Slowly start pouring the syrup all over the cake and let it cool down before storing it in the refrigerator. At this point, you can just decorate it with crushed walnuts for the traditional version.
Modern version - Lemon icing
In a mixing bowl beat mascarpone, lemon juice, stevia and lemon zest. Start adding sparkling water little by little.
Spread the icing on top of the cake and decorate with some walnut halves.
Serve well chilled!
Optional icing* - The original Karidopita does not have any icing, however, I offered a modern version which will make this cake even more refreshing and nutritious.
Additive-free* - Many mascarpone producers add Carageenan or other stabilisers to this awesome cream cheese and this way they destroy it. Always read the labels because the original Mascarpone has to contain 50% heavy cream and 50% butter.
I have prepared two tables of nutritional values. If you opt to make a traditional Karidopita, then you will end up with only 1g net carb, 18g of fat and 7 g of protein! Now, isn’t this 100% Keto? However, if you decide to make the modernised version with lemon icing, you’ll add the nutritional values from the icing. I have also calculated the values per portion so that you can incorporate this dessert into your balanced keto diet. A piece of this cake would be excellent after the main meal with some good meat or fish! I hope you’ll enjoy this piece of Greek tradition wrapped into Keto macros and philosophy.