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Food of the Month: Almonds


Bone Health

Phosphorus and calcium, two key nutrients in almonds, help maintain bone health. The calcium can make up for almost 30% of the value of our recommended calcium intake and 25 % of vitamin D. Phosphorous can have a considerable impact on the strength and durability of bones and teeth, while also preventing the onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis.

Protein Powerhouse

Almonds are concentrated in protein. A quarter cup contains 7.62 grams—more protein than provided by the typical egg, which contains 5.54 grams.

Heart Health

Many of the nutrients in almonds contribute to increased heart health. Almonds are rich in magnesium, which is critical in preventing heart attacks and hypertension. Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Almonds are especially rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that help to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol,” which plays a major role in heart health.

Weight Maintenance

The fiber, protein, and fat content of almonds means it only takes a handful to keep you feeling full and satisfied so you won’t have the urge to overeat.

Boosts Energy

The presence of manganese, copper, and riboflavin in almonds helps in energy production and metabolic rate.

Prevents Constipation

Almonds are rich in fiber, and like most other fiber-rich foods, they help prevent constipation.

Reduces Inflammation

Almonds are a source of the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and linolenic acid. These help prevent and reduce inflammation occurring in the body. Your body cannot produce these fatty acids; hence, almonds are an excellent source.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Almonds

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Selecting:

  • If purchasing almonds in bulk bins at the grocery store, make sure the store has a quick turnover of inventory and that the bulk containers are sealed well in order to ensure maximum freshness.
  • Look for almonds that are uniform in color and not limp or shriveled.
  • Almonds should smell sweet and nutty; if their odor is sharp or bitter, they are rancid.

Storage:

  • Store them in an airtight container so the oil does not go rancid.
  • Almonds keep best in a dark, cool environment such as your refrigerator.
  • Refrigerated almonds will keep for several months; if stored in the freezer, they can be kept for up to a year.
  • Shelled almond pieces will become rancid more quickly than whole shelled almonds. Almonds still in the shell have the longest shelf life.

Serving Suggestions

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  • Replace croutons and full-fat cheese in your salad with a handful of raw almonds.
  • Add a few almonds to yogurt or ice cream for a healthy crunch.
  • Almond butter can be used instead of peanut butter. Spread a little almond butter on your toast or down the center of a stalk of celery.
  • Almonds are a great snack all by themselves. If you are going out and about, put a few raw almonds in your pocket or carry a small bag of them for when hunger strikes.
  • Use unsweetened almond milk in shakes, sauces, and wherever you would use regular milk.
  • Add some almond butter to a breakfast shake to boost its taste and protein content.

Recipes:

1. Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted almond butter, stirred well
3/4 cup Sucanat
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater), broken into small pieces.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the first five ingredients until well blended. Stir in chocolate.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 15 more minutes.

2. Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Ingredients:

Canola oil cooking spray
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large egg whites
1 pound chicken tenders

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
  3. Place almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute.
  4. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
  6. Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture. Turn to coat evenly.
  7. Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.
  8. Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.
  9. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy, and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Flourless Honey-Almond Cake

Flourless Honey-Almond Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, toasted
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping:
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Note:
To toast whole almonds, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. To toast sliced almonds, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Eggs must be at room temperature for the proteins to unwind enough to support the cake’s crumb. Either set the eggs out on the counter for 15 minutes or submerge them in their shells in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes before using.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
  3. Process whole almonds in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
  4. Beat 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer or paddle attachment on a stand mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add the ground almonds and beat on low until combined.
  5. Beat 4 egg whites in another large bowl with the electric mixer (clean beaters on a hand-held mixer or whisk attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until very foamy, white, and doubled in volume, but not stiff enough to hold peaks, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until just combined.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes.
  9. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Let cool completely.
  10. If desired, remove the cake from the pan bottom by gently sliding a large, wide spatula between the cake and the parchment paper. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter.
  11. To serve, drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds.