Go Nuts with Almonds…They’re Good for You

Almond Butter, Flour, Whole with Skin, Milk and Sliced Almonds

Almond Butter, Flour, Whole with Skin, Milk and Sliced Almonds. Photo: California Almond Board

By Dana Perkiss and Elana Beckett

For everyone out there who thinks he or she knows food, answer this: What seed of a fruit grows on a tree, is high in fat content, and lowers cholesterol? Yes, a healthy, high fat content snack.

And it gets better; this food also lowers the risk of heart disease.

The answer to these questions may surprise you: It’s almonds.

Seed of the almond fruit

When we talk about almonds, we are actually talking about the seed of the almond fruit, which is a fruit encased in a green shell that has a huge seed in it, like a cherry or a peach. The tree buds pink and white flowers.

Nutritional wallop

Almonds Every Which Way Creamy Almond dip 282

Creamy Almond Butter and Honey Apple Dip from Almonds Every Which Way cookbook

Almonds contain vitamin E, copper, magnesium, protein, and healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Vitamin E and magnesium help the body fight sicknesses. Magnesium also keeps bones strong. According to some research, magnesium may decrease the chance of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. The fat content in almonds contributes to lowering the risk of heart disease.

According to BMC Medicine, people who eat nuts, including almonds, decrease their chances of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease. Not to mention, almonds are gluten free and contain fiber- fewer fiber bars in anyone’s life is a plus!

In addition, almonds may also help prevent colon cancer, according to the Department of Nutrition at University of California, Davis, which research was published in Cancer Letters.

People who snack on almonds on a regular basis not only have a decreased chance of dying from heart disease and cancer, but they are also able to more easily manage their weight because almonds are satisfying and healthy — a hard combination to find. Eating almonds can be an easy way to start (or continue) eating healthily.

Celebs go for almonds

The health benefits of almonds have attracted the attention of celebs. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and presidential candidate, has been trimming his waistline and almonds are one of his go-to snacks.

Jennifer Aniston blends chocolate almond milk and almonds, among other ingredients like cherries, mineral drops, bananas, and blueberries.

Almond Flour. Photo: Diamond Almond Growers

Almond Flour. Photo: Diamond Almond Growers

The many forms of almonds

Almonds can be purchased in a variety of forms, from the whole dried almond, chopped and slivered, to almond milk, flour, oil and butter.

Almonds in flour and oil are also a great way to sneak the healthy food into your diet. Almond flour can be used in cookies, bread, muffins, brownies, scones, and cakes, and can also be used to dredge fish, chicken, and pork.

Blue Diamond Almonds Global Ingredients Division has recently introduced three types of almond flour: extra fine, extra fine blanched, and fine blanched. The extra fine almond flour is comparable to blanched flour and gives off a light tan color. The texture of the extra fine blanched is perfect for cookies, breads, muffins, brownies, scones, and cakes.

“Almond flour is nutritiously superior to other processed flours,” said Bill Morecraft, Blue Diamond Global Ingredients Division, noting that each quarter cup serving contains six grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fiber and 75 mg of calcium. “Additionally, almond flour is low on the glycemic index, is naturally gluten-free and a great food source of antioxidant Vitamin E.”

If you want that classic golden brown look to your food, then try the fine blanched almond flour.

Ultimate almond cookbook serves up recipes

Almonds Every Which Way book coverCookbook author, Brooke McLay, who has recently written Almonds Every Which Way, (Da Capo Lifelong Books) says, “The primary reason (in my mind, anyway) for adding almond flour to your meals isn’t because it can help lower your cholesterol (though studies have shown a connection) or because swapping carbs for almond products has shown a 30 percent reduction in heart disease in many patients (though it has). Rather, the primary reason to start using almond flour in your cooking is because it makes foods – especially baked foods – absolutely scrumptious.”

The Almonds Every Which Way cookbook is a terrific resource for the almond lover. The book has dozens of almond recipes and almond nutrition facts from breakfast through dinner and in between.

McLay adds, “This book is true to its title offering recipes you’ll find relevant whether your aim is to lose weight, get healthier, adopt a gluten-free or paleo eating plan, or just be adventurous in the kitchen and find fresh ways to use up that jar of gourmet almond butter!”

Here are recipes for enjoying the healthful almond from Almonds Every Which Way:

Almonds Every Which Way Smoothie 282Chocolate Almond Smoothie

Makes 2 servings
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian

This is a decadent morning smoothie that almost tastes too good to be breakfast. The protein from the almond ingredients will help keep you going all morning. Health benefits aside, the mocha banana flavor here is so delicious, it makes a great dessert, too.

1 cup chocolate almond milk
¼ cup almond butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon brewed espresso
1 banana, frozen

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the smoothie into two glasses.

Calories: 280, Calories from Fat: 179, Total Fat: 19.9g, 31%, Saturated Fat: 1.9g, 10%,  Total Carb: 22.1g, 7%, Dietary Fiber: 4.0g, 16%,  Sugars: 7.3g, Protein: 8.8g, Cholesterol: 0mg, 0%, Sodium: 92mg, 4%

Creamy Almond Butter and Honey Apple Dip

Makes 8 servings
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Vegetarian

Quick and easy to toss together for snacking, almond butter and honey mixed with yogurt make a great dip for apples, strawberries, or slices of bananas and kiwi. Little cubes of banana bread also pair well with this yummy dip.

3 tablespoons creamy almond butter
4 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon apple pie spice
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into ½-inch slices.

Whip the almond butter, cream cheese, yogurt, and honey together in a medium bowl and chill for 1 hour to let the flavors meld.
Sprinkle with the apple pie spice before serving. Serve with the apple slices for dipping.

Calories: 121, Calories from Fat: 72, Total Fat: 8.0g, 12%, Saturated Fat: 3.3g, 17%, Total Carb: 12.2g, 4%, Dietary Fiber: 1.9g, 7%, Sugars: 9.4g, Protein: 2.4g,  Cholesterol: 16mg, 5%, Sodium: 63mg, 3%

Blue Diamond offers these almond recipes:

Almond Macarons Diamond Almond Growers 282

Almond Macarons. Photo: Diamond Almond Growers

Raspberry Almond Macaroons

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ground almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 large egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar

Raspberry Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jelly
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar until very fine in a food processor. In a medium bowl whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, and whisk again until very stiff. Using a rubber spatula, add one-third almond mixture to egg whites and gently fold in, leaving some streaks. Gently fold in remaining almond mixture by thirds.
Make a piping bag for the batter: Place a sturdy plastic storage bag into a tall water glass, folding its top back around the rim of the glass. Spoon batter gently into plastic bag. Remove bag from water glass and close, snipping a hole in one bottom corner. Use this piping bag to pipe 1-inch kisses onto baking sheets. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, turning pans halfway through baking or until set but not dried out.

Let cookies cool completely, then remove from parchment paper with a small offset spatula. Sandwich cookies together with buttercream and serve, or store airtight for up to 2 days.

Raspberry Buttercream:
Using a mixer, beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter with a pinch of salt until fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jelly, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat until blended. Store covered and refrigerated, and let come to room temperature before using.

Calories: 125, Total Fat: 7.6g, Saturated Fat: 3.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2.9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8g, Carbohydrate: 13g, Protein: 2g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Calcium: 15mg, Magnesium: 15mg, Sodium: 11mg, Potassium: 52 mg, Vitamin E: 1.5 mg.


Photo: Diamond Almond Growers

Photo: Diamond Almond Growers

 Almond Chicken Parmesan
Makes 8 pieces

4 chicken breasts
3 eggs
2 cups Blue Diamond Fine Blanched Almond Flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Olive oil for frying
3 cups marinara sauce
1 cup or 8 slices Provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butterfly chicken breasts and cut in half. Place in a large plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet until ¼-inch thick.

In a bowl, crack eggs, add a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. In a separate dish, blend almond flour, Parmesan cheese, spices, and salt and pepper. Include more/less of seasonings to taste.
Heat a skillet with 2 tbs. of olive oil to medium heat. Dip chicken cutlet in egg and coat in almond flour mixture. Pan fry chicken in olive oil for 5 minutes per side or until each side is golden brown.

Spoon marinara sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

As cutlets finish frying, place in baking dish. Once complete, cover chicken with sauce and top with Provolone cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with Parmesan cheese.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe to Healthy Aging® Magazine

The Premier Lifestyle Magazine for All Ages

Receive four digital issues delivered to your inbox. Just $24.95