I’ve never felt in such good shape physically as  I do now.  I exercise consistently and I eat a healthy balance of foods.  There was a time however, about 15 years ago, where I felt like a bloated piece of you know what, with very little energy.  Way back in the day, I used to work in a french bistro during culinary school in Seattle.  Usually restaurants will feed their employees a group lunch/dinner called a family meal.  This bistro did no such thing.  Employees would scavenge for food during their shift, eating a little bit here and there, until their bellies were satisfied.  I even recall seeing employees eat food from the half-eaten plates of meals that came back to the dishroom.  Gross!

I worked in the kitchen preparing all of the appetizers, salads and desserts. My preferred food to scavenge for were candied walnuts that would top the salads.  These walnuts would basically get blanched to remove the skins and then deep-fried in a vat of oil.   After they were fried to a deep golden brown, the hot nuts were rolled in powdered sugar, which would then melt and “candy” onto the nut from the heat.  Voila, candied walnuts.  Needless to say, I gained many pounds during that job and became quite iron deficient since we weren’t allowed to any of the chicken, fish or meat, which was closely watched by management. I left that job after 4 months and ended up working in a gym so that I could get a free membership to work off those extra pounds I had gained at the french bistro!

I still love candied nuts, but I prefer to make ones that are much healthier!  No matter if I make sweet, spicy or savory flavored nuts, I always bake them instead of fry with unnecessary oil.  I try to use as little sweetener as possible, just enough to give them a hint of sweetness.  These modifications drastically  decreases the number of calories from the days of deep-frying nuts and rolling in mounds of powdered sugar.

When you’re trying to eat healthier, simple modifications to your favorite foods can make a world of difference tin expanding your recipe repertoire!

Candied Walnuts

Yield: About 1 cup


  • 1 cup raw walnut halves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (Grade B is fine)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, cinnamon, salt and maple syrup. Stir with a spatula to thoroughly mix.
  3. Pour nut mixture onto a baking sheet, making sure to scrape up all of the maple syrup. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow nuts to cool completely.
  4. Store in an airtight container.
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