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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
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Almonds

Posted by Caitlin Huth - almond

In a previous post, I talked about nuts in general. For the holidays, I decided to write about almonds. Talking about nuts is no longer limited to ways to mix chopped nuts into a recipe. There are more products than ever:  almond milk, flour, dairy-free ice cream, nut butter, salted nuts, candy-coated nuts, etc. All of these make talking about nutrition of almonds a bigger task.

Nutritionally, 1/4 cup raw almonds contains around 200 calories, 18g fat, 8g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 8g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Plain almonds contain no sodium.

Do not be wary of the high fat content in almonds. These fats are mostly unsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. Because almonds – and other nuts – are high in calories, it is smart to limit your serving of almonds to a small handful a day.

  • Buy: Look for plain, unsalted almonds to use in recipes and for snacks. These may be whole nuts or chopped or sliced in different sizes. Limit how often you buy salted and/or candy-coated almonds. Enjoy the flavor of a plain almond.

If purchasing almond milk, look for unsweetened varieties to limit added sugar in the diet. Note that although whole almonds have a lot of protein for a small handful, almond milk is poor in protein per cup. Cow's and soy milk have more protein per cup.

If purchasing almond butter, look for brands that have little added salt and do not contain hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fats). Brands that contain only almonds and maybe some added salt often require refrigeration.

  • Price: Like many nuts, store brands are often less expensive. Know that almond butter and almond milk are new to the food market and carry a higher price tag. Plain nuts are expensive in general, almonds or not. Decide what fits in your budget.
  • Store: Store plain almonds at room temperature in a cool, dark, and dry area. Nuts can be refrigerated or frozen to help extend the shelf life if you do not eat nuts very often. (Fats in foods tend to go rancid after long storage.) If purchasing prepared almond products, check the package for how to store them.
  • Prepare: Pour almonds out of the package and eat. Use a clean knife, surface, and hands if chopping nuts.

  • Eat: Nuts add healthful nutrition and nice crunch to dishes, from desserts to salads to grain side dishes. Try the almond cake recipe at the end of this post for a tasty dessert for your next holiday table.

References:

Flourless Honey-Almond Cake (Serves 10)

Honey and almonds flavor this simple (and gluten-free) cake. This was a hit during a Kirby's Kitchen class in Piatt Co.

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

Topping
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Tip)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
2. Process whole almonds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (you will have about 1 3/4 cups ground). Beat 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer (or use a paddle attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until well combined. Add the ground almonds and beat on low until combined.
3. Beat 4 egg whites in another large bowl with the electric mixer (use clean beaters on a hand-held mixer or the 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 (depending on the type of mixer). Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
4. Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. 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.
5. 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.
6. Before serving, drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Nutrition analysis per serving: 234 calories, 14g fat, 208mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g protein

Notes:

  • Be careful not to overbeat the egg whites—they should be white and very foamy, but not at all stiff or able to hold peaks. If you beat them too much, the cake may sink in the middle as it cools.
  • Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with almonds just before serving
  • To toast whole almonds, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, 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.

Recipe from EatingWell, March/April 2009



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