My first memory of walnuts was when my best friend’s mother offered me homemade chocolate chip and walnut cookies. It was love at first bite. Thank you Mrs. Price.

It’s harvest time here in Paso Robles walnut orchards and I couldn’t be happier. Leaves are turning yellow and brown and walnuts are falling all over the ground.

This weekend the family and I took a drive in the rolling hills along Peachy Canyon Road and watched the harvest in progress.

A large tractor with a 15-foot-long arm reaches out to the trunk of the tree and gives it a violent shake. In an instant, leaves and nuts fall to the ground. The tractor moves from tree to tree much faster than you would expect. Crews move in and handpick the harvest off the ground.

Some of the nuts are covered with the green fruit they grew in, but most of them are already dried.

The walnuts are sacked in burlap and sold at the nearby winery, Chateau Margene. They produce walnut oil and other snacks with the Limerock Orchards label.

It is one of many small, family-operated orchards around Paso Robles, Calif.

Our family is lucky to live in the heart of the production of wonderful food. All around us farmers grow organic fruits and vegetables, raise grass-fed beef, lamb and poultry and create world-class wines.

It’s easy to be a locavore and live, and thrive, on the foods grown within 100 miles of our house.

Walnuts are one of nature’s perfect foods. A handful contains about 190 calories with 18g of healthy fats, 4g carbohydrates, and 4g proteins. Here are some benefits of eating them:

• Walnuts are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and natural vitamin E

• Walnuts increase your body’s ability to use fat stores.*

• Walnuts have the highest antioxidants content of any nut. Most of the beneficial phenols are in the skin, so don’t take it off.

• Walnuts are protective against cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

Walnuts fit nicely into my paleo lifestyle. I try to choose foods that were available to our ancestors 20,000 years ago before the agricultural revolution. That means I eat lots of vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts and just a little dairy. It’s helped me lose 80 lbs and take on new challenges I never imagined.

A recent study has determined that only 5.5% of all adults consume tree nuts of any kind. If you’re not eating them already, join us!

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