Almonds Are Forever!
What Are Almonds?
Although the greatest producer of almonds in the world is now the US, they traditionally hail from the Mediterranean. They grow on trees, these days in groves. They flower the most beautiful blossom in Spring, then within a few weeks the nuts begin to form. The nuts grow in a green furry casing. Late summer, this splits and the nuts are ready to be picked. There is a hard shell to remove and the almond is found inside. The almond has a brown skin around it which can be removed, usually by soaking overnight or a process called blanching (using boiling water). However, I usually include the skin wherever I can since much of the nutrition is held in the skin.
Extremely versatile, almonds are used to make butter, milk, flour and oil. It is using the flour or ground almonds that this blog’s special recipe is given.
Sweet almonds are edible and are often used to make oil.
Bitter almonds are inedible and are usually only used for oil.
What’s Great About Almonds?
For me, being here in Spain, is simply their abundance.
I love the trees!
From the blossom of Spring when the whole valley is tinged with pink, to the cute furry little casings the almonds grow in, the trees’ gnarly branches and the way that the Spanish even use the shells to burn as fuel in special fires.
This amazing source of plant protein is always in my cupboard in one form or another.
I use almond oil on my massage clients, almond milk in my tea, and butter in smoothies.
Almonds are high in:
Protein – especially the amino acid Arginine. This helps to treat infections, promotes healing and heart health.
Magnesium which is good for blood pressure (preventing heart disease), bone health (great for menopause).
Vitamin E – they are thought to be the best source of Vitamin E from food. It’s great for your immune system and production of red blood cells.
Fibre – soluble and insoluble, they help maintain healthy blood sugar levels as they have a low glycemic index.
Unsaturated Fats – proven to help prevent heart disease.
They are also a great source of Iron, Manganese and Phosphoros (blood and bones).
Almonds are high in antioxidants which are anti-inflammatory and may prevent cancer and diabetes.
Research indicates that they may help to reduce belly fat. This is likely to be due to their high-protein content, giving you 6g per 30g serving and are also high in fibre.
They are very filling!
Although about 50% fat, around 10% of the fats in almonds are not absorbed by the body.
They are relatively low in carbohydrates at about 20%.
How Much Almond Should I Have?
But you also include them in your cereal, salads, even in soup. In my upcoming recipe book, I have a gluten-free recipe for Ajo Blanco, a Spanish cold soup which is simply awesome.
How Else Can I Use Almonds?
For years I’ve enjoyed using almond butter. It’s a great vegan alternative to butter in toasted soda or sourdough bread and topped with fruit, is absolutely delicious. It’s also a great base for sweet fruit or chocolate sauces and toppings. Here’s a great place to order this HERE. The almond butter from Meridian is just that, almonds. No additives, no sugar, just almonds. It’s delicious and has a long shelf life.
Almond oil (of course barring any nut allergy) is my first choice for massage. It has a thick lustre feel that stays on the skin, allowing the essential oils to be absorbed for longer in the body. You can check out prices HERE.
Almond Cacao Brownie (gluten/wheat free and dairy free)
This light, yet moist cake uses no refined sugar.
In the absence of liquid cane sugar, please use maple syrup. Avoid honey which loses it’s goodness at high temperatures and may become toxic, or agave which is heavily processed.
Preheat oven to 150C or slightly less for a fan oven.
Beat 3 eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the following mixing each time:
1 cup of rice milk
1 tbsp vanilla bean extract
Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
1/4 tsp of Himalayan rock salt
1/4 tsp of pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of gluten-free baking powder
1/4 cup of liquid cane sugar or maple syrup
2 cups of ground almonds
1/2 cup ground flax, chia or a combination
1/2 cup of raw cacao powder
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
Melt 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a baking tin for just 5 minutes.
Spread the oil around the tin and up the sides.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 40 mins.
After 35 mins, open the oven door slowly and put a cocktail stick into the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done.
Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
For the topping:
1 cup of ground sunflower seeds
1/4 cup of raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of rice milk
1/4 cup of honey
Pour over the cake and salivate! Sprinkle on some ground almonds or flakes if you like.
This cake freezes well or will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, if it lasts that long!
I recommend Buy Wholefoods Online.
They stock almonds in many different forms.
Just this week I placed a huge order with Buy Wholefoods Online. I did compare all of the prices with one other well-known brand and I have to say, in all but one product, they came out cheaper.
And they have FREE DELIVERY on orders over £30.
I receive a small commission for recommending their products to you. It’s a little reward for sharing my knowledge, recipes and writing about the benefits of products which you may not otherwise know.