All about almonds – and how to use them.
Recipes and tips
Almonds are a real staple food for me, so I want to share everything I know and find on them.
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The almond nut
First of all, did you know… Almonds are part of the peach family ! Come to think of it, that nut shell looks just like the peach kernal.
A handful a day keeps the doctor at bay !
Packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre.
Having grown up with the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay”, it just goes to show how fortunate we have become in our own life time. We have moved on so far from the only healthy available choices like the simple apple, to exotic nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, spices and herbs etc.
In fact, it is the shelled almond nut that we eat. The shelled almond is the seed, as shown in the picture above, but we often refer to that as a nut !
It is nutrient rich, and a contributor to so many health benefits.
Almonds are full of vitamins…
One of the best sources of vitamin E, giving 37% RDI of the recommended daily intake ( RDI ).
They are also high in proteins, minerals, fibre, and important anti-oxidents…
In about 1oz of nuts, it seems that you also get about 1 oz also of photophenals! They protect against oxidative stress, which can contribute to cancer inflammation, heart disease, and ageing. Apparently, some studies have found that eating almonds with your main meal can reduce some markers of oxidative damage.
The antioxidents are found mostly in the brown skin ! The skin is high in phytic acid – which binds certain minerals and prevents them being absorbed – is this good or bad? Generally it’s a good thing, but it can also reduce the amount or iron, zinc and calcium you can absorb from them.
Also… they are low in carbs, and high in fats…
Yes, but we know now that it’s healthy fats. Almonds can reduce the levels of LDL lipoproteins in the blood i.e. the bad cholesterol.
The seed of the Almond tree fruit
the ‘Prunis Dulcis’ tree
In January and February, it’s time to celebrate the Almond tree on our little island of Gran Canaria, and so it’s a good time to share our love of this little beauty with you. Throughout February, there are almond in bloom festivals (“Almendro en Flor”) in many of the little mountain towns, where you can listen to local music, and taste the almonds used in local cooking and baking. Although over 80% of almonds are apparently produced out of Californian farms, it is historically a product that is native to the Mediterranean climate regions of the Middle East, N.Africa and Southern Asia.
A handful of goodness
Let’s say a handful is about 1 oz, that’s about…
- 160 calories,similar to pistachios and cashews. Even though these are low in calories compared to most nuts, don’t over do it! make what you eat good for you, and don’t just snack mindlessly.
- 2.5 g digestible carbs
- 3.5 g fibre
- 6 g protein
- 14 g fat (9 g of that being monounsaturated fat).
Other minerals and nutrients
manganese: 32% RDI
magnesium – 32% RDI. So good for controlling blood sugar and blood pressure
Finally, they also contain more calcium than other buts, some copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), & phosphorous.
Oh, and they taste yummy too!
Personally, I carry a little bag of almonds with me everywhere, like a bag of sweets.
We remember vividly from our time in Morocco, that bags of little nuts are still given to children as a gift. It’s looked on as a perfect gift to take as a visitor, rather than a bad gift like a bag of sweets (which just rot their teeth !)
Emergency nuts !
We call them our ’emergency nuts’. Just one almond can stop a hunger pain, or fix that sickie feeling I get from a dip in blood sugar ! If I’m doing an intermittent fast and get a dip around normal breakfast time, just one almond brings the balance back. Now I know it’s the magnesium input that is helping !
Almond food and products
To eat or not to eat !
Almond oil is not just for cooking or eating – it’s simply a good carrier oil for the skin. Same for soap of course. So where can you get the goodness, apart from just snacking on the seeds. Just click on the red text to read our how to’s and our favourite snack recipes (by us, or other bloggers).
1. Blanched Almonds… ( so easy !)
click the picture to jump to the recipe.
Other almond products and recipes
- Almond milk …. simple… soak overnight in water and strain in a cheesecloth / muslin cloth.
- Almond butter or paste… I use my hand bamix mini processor to make mine – with a little patience !
- Almond flour or meal…personally I don’t use it, as I feel it I would be consuming too many almonds.
- Almond oil, soap…I buy it for now.
- Almond slivers and flakes… difficult to make really fine even ones by hand, but blanche first and then slice ( see next post).
- Roasted or toasted almonds… Heat a frying pan to high, pop the almonds on and shake about for up to 5 mins – don’t leave them ! I prefer the oven method – pre-heat to 200℃, pop the almonds in a baking tray / dish, and roast for 10- 15 mins till dark golden and toasty. Put a timer on for 5 mins , then keep an eye on them, as they’ll turn to burned fast. You’ll get to know your own oven timings once you’ve made it a few times.
- Almond snacks… sugared, chilli, sweet cinnamon almonds – hmmm will get round to writing our recipes – in the meantime I found someone that does it just how I like it ! And, it’s beautifully written up here.
- Almond pesto – hmmm will get round to writing our recipes – in the meantime, here’s a new one I just came across using almonds and tomato paste – by one of my favourite writers.