I am always finding ways to pack healthy, whole snacks in my kids lunch boxes. Chips and most foods that are processed are a thing of the past. Instead, it’s always something warm (generally leftovers from the night before – kept warm in a thermos) cut up veggies, a fruit or two, cheese, maybe some rice crackers, and nuts (for the crunch). Pistachios, in their shells, are a favorite, as well as shelled sunflower seeds. Lately, it is these nuts that have won my boys hearts.


A while back (embarrassingly, a long while back), I received this gorgeous bag of walnuts from  California Walnuts. They had reached out to me and offered me a bag to try. I stuck the nuts in the freezer, as I do all of my nuts, and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when cleaning out the freezer, that I stumbled upon this unopened, burlap sac.

Roasted maple almonds have become a Sunday ritual and this past weekend, I decided to swap out the almonds for walnuts. So glad I had. I love almost everything almond, but these walnuts, roasted this way, is now my new front runner for a staple pantry snack.

journal_comps1-6066758I still had some nuts to spare so I pulled out my “journal” of ideas. For years, I have been filling up composition books with articles, recipes, graphics, photo inspiration, and resources from my favorite magazines. I found this to be way more effective than shoving paperwork into a binder or a file that gets buried in the filing cabinet. The size of a composition book is perfect for the purse and is always taken with me when the kids have either dentist or ortho appointments. It’s my favorite resource.

walnutcups_duo1-3178070I had originally found this recipe in an issue of Bon Apetit and knew I wanted to make this crust for more recipes than what it was intended for. When I first read about them and then cut them out to put in my inspiration book, I had always envisioned them filled with homemade ice cream or a no bake cheesecake filling. Such a great alternative to an ice cream cone, something my kids have kind of missed since cutting gluten out of our diet.

walnutcups_icecream-8916721With lots of individual, little balls of homemade boozy pumpkin pie ice cream on hand, this is exactly how we initially consumed them. Filling the cups with two scoops of ice cream and then drizzling a bit of homemade caramel sauce on top, this was the perfect little treat at the end of a wholesome and hearty meal (Shepherd’s pie was on the menu that night). Chopping up a few of the roasted maple walnuts and sprinkling them on top was the perfect accessory to an already stylish dessert. I have since made this recipe using toasted pecans and it was so good that it has inspired me for an upcoming dessert for our Thanksgiving table.

Walnut Cups

2 tsp coconut oil
2 cups walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons gluten free flour blend
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

• in the work bowl of a food processor, pulse nuts until coarsely ground.
• add coconut oil,honey, gluten free flour blend, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Celtic sea salt.
• pulse until dough comes together.
• pinching 1 tablespoon of dough, form into a ball and press into silicone mini muffin cups. pressing your thumb into
the center of the dough, bring the dough up the sides of muffin cup. repeat, using up all the dough.
• chill in the fridge for one hour.
• preheat oven to 350*.
• place prepared silicone muffin cups on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet.
• bake 8 – 12 minutes. cool completely on a wire rack until completely cool.
• fill with ice cream and top with favorite toppings.
• nut cups can be made one day ahead and stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
note: these would be great filled with pastry cream and topped with fruit or lemon curd, or a no bake cheesecake filling. so many ways to make something delicious even more delicious.
makes 16 small tartlettes.

Roasted Maple Walnuts

3 cups raw walnuts
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• preheat oven to 300*
• line a quarter sheet pan (rimmed) with heavy duty foil. brush with coconut oil. set aside.
• in a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients until nuts are well coated.
• spread, in a single layer, on prepared baking sheet.
• bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until nuts are golden brown and caramelized.
• let cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.
• store in an air tight, glass jar for up to one week (they won’t last that long).
• makes 3 cups