Toast, spread, and sprinkle walnuts

The holiday season is the best time of year to enjoy these good-for-you treats

Look to The Nutcracker as proof of walnuts' special place at this time of year. We love to munch on them just-cracked, full of fiber, protein, and alpha-linolenic acid (the plant form of omega-3 fatty acid). When you're done cracking and snacking, try these ideas for using walnuts in the kitchen.

TOASTED

Spread walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook at 375° until toasted through (break one to test). For a less bitter (although less walnut-y) flavor, blanch nuts for 1 minute in boiling salted water before toasting.

AS NUT BUTTER

In a food processor or blender, whirl 4 cups toasted walnuts with ⅓ cup honey and ½ tsp. salt until a "butter" forms (this will take several minutes), scraping down the sides as necessary. If oil separates out, whirl in ¼ to ½ cup very hot water to bring the mixture back together.

IN A SALAD

Sprinkle toasted walnuts over greens tossed with a walnut-oil dressing.