Walnuts Provide The Winning Ingredient In Fresno’s Teen Battle Chef

Posted 03/07/2013 | By HealthCorps

The students of Sunnyside and Edison High School, in Fresno, CA, participated in the first ever California Walnut Board Cookoff-Challenge.  The students spent time and effort creating their own recipes for the battle.  Each recipe could only contain 10 ingredients, and had to incorporate walnuts in a creative way.

With the help of Julia Nelson, the Edison Tigers took the win.  Both teams created mouth watering dishes. With the help of coordinators Julia Nelson and Emily Grant and their students, the recipes might be used to serve at lunch in the cafeteria.

“Engaging students in healthy cooking and eating habits is an important first step toward creating healthy habits for a lifetime,” said Shawn G. Hayes, Ph.D., chief academic officer, director of research and education for HealthCorps. “When you make nutrition education fun, students are more likely to share it with their friends and families.”

The California Walnut Board now supports HealthCorps in four schools in California, the newest being Sunnyside and Edison High Schools in Fresno, as well as two schools in Sacramento.  “Thanks to HealthCorps teaching the importance of good nutrition, youth are learning how whole food snacks, such as walnuts, are not only healthful, but taste great” said Dennis A. Balint, Executive Director of the California Walnut Board.

This partnership will positively impact approximately 6,500 students in Fresno and Sacramento, and numerous school staff, family and community members by providing for a HealthCorps “coordinator” in each of these schools. Along with HealthCorps bringing its important programming to under-served students in Fresno, it is also a significant agricultural region with as many as 300,000 walnut trees planted in the county.

Here are the featured recipes from the cook off:

Thai-ger Walnut Chicken Wraps (4 servings)


1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb chicken breast, chopped in bite size pieces

¼ cup lemon grass, finely chopped

¼ cup green onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

½ cup walnuts chopped

2-3 tbsp hoisin sauce

¼ cup finely chopped, sweet, green chili pepper

4 large iceburg lettuce leafs, rinsed


Mix chopped chicken, lemon grass, green onion and garlic and marinate for 30 min.

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan and add chicken. Cook through.

Meanwhile, chop ¼ cup walnuts and mix with 2 tbsp hoisin sauce and 1 tsp fish sauce.

Once chicken is cooked through, add walnut mixture and combine thoroughly.

Place 1 lettuce leaf on plate and add ¼ of the chicken mixture from pan into the lettuce wrap.

Chop ½ cup walnuts and combine thoroughly with 2-3 tbsp. hoisin sauce (consistency should stick and hold shape well). Spoon ¼ of this mixture onto the plate, outside of the wrap.

Garnish wrap and plate with chopped chili pepper and hoisin sauce.


Walnut Pizza Dough (yield: 44 ounces)


½ cup toasted walnuts

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast or (1 package)

1 cup water (90-100 degrees)

1 cup ice cold water

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon Walnut Oil

1 cup whole wheat flour

4 cups All-Purpose Flour


In a small sauté pan toast the walnuts until fragrant then pour into a food processor and pulse for 5-10 seconds. Pour the walnuts into a bowl and set aside.

In a second small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the cold water, salt, oil and stir until dissolved.

Place the flours in the mixing bowl along with the walnuts and mix on low.

Add the yeast mixture and allow to mix for 1-2 minutes.

Add the cold water mixture and continue to mix on low speed until the flours are incorporated and the dough gathers together to form a coarse ball, about four minutes.

Let rest for 2 minutes, then mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and not sticky, about 8 minutes longer.

Finally, turn the dough out on a well-floured work surface and knead for a minute or two more until it forms a smooth ball.

For more mouth-watering and healthy walnut recipes like Baked Walnut Stuffed Pears, Cajun Spiced Walnuts, and Chili Walnut Egg Puff, check out www.walnuts.org

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