Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Beauty of Almonds & How to Maximise the Benefits

Almonds - what isn't there to love about these little bundles of energy.  Today thanks to a better understanding of the complex relationships between food, health and nutrition we now know that eating the right type of fats in moderation doesn't actually make us fat in fact, research has shown the opposite effect with numerous studies finding the right fats can be beneficial toward aiding weight loss and cholesterol levels just for starters.

When it comes to almonds they are a great provider of those good fats, especially the monounsaturated kind.  They are versatile, tasty and a complete source of protein that gives animal protein a run for its money in terms of nutritional value and economy.  To gain the greatest advantage from  these great providers do as Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions suggests and soak almonds overnight in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt before drying gently in a warm oven or dehydrator.  By doing this, enzyme inhibitors that can prevent the absorption of valuable vitamins and minerals are removed or reduced.   The traditional practice of soaking and drying nuts as the Aztecs once did, can improve the digestibility of nuts, seed and grains and as an added bonus this practice facilitates  an extended storage life and a lesser concern  for rancidity.    It is thought that skinless almonds are easier to digest and make for better use in recipes however I prefer to leave the skin on mine.

Crispy Almonds

4 cups almonds
1 T sea salt
filtered water to cover a couple inches about as they will swell overnight

Mix almonds with salt and water and leave in a warm place for a minimum of 7 hours or overnight
Drain in a colander or sieve
Spread on a baking sheet and place in a warm oven (40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit) or dehydrator (same temp)  for 12 - 14 hours, stirring occasionally until completely dried.
Store in an airtight container.

Further on from this the calcium content of almonds is excellent and makes a great alternative to regular cow's milk.  Nut milk is easy to make and keeps in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.   Please see below for further instructions on how to do this.  Almond milk is enjoyable on its own, in smoothies or as I prefer, with oats in the mornings (see below).   Homemade almond milk is superior to store bought which unfortunately tends to be more water than almonds and I believe it can also contain synthetic vitamins.

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup of almonds soaked overnight
3 cups filtered water
1 fresh date, seed removed

Soak one cup of almonds in water overnight, or for at least 8 hours
Place the almonds in a sieve and rinse under a tap of running water
Place the rinsed almonds in a blender and add 3 cups of filtered water and one fresh date (stone removed)
Blend on high speed until smooth and looks like milk
Line a sieve with a muslin cloth and set over a bowl
Slowly pour the nut milk into the lined sieve to filter out the remaining nuts
When the majority of liquid has been filtered through gather up the muslin and squeeze to extract the final amounts of liquid  
Reserve the pulp for another use (will be posting a use for this shortly)

Almond Milk and Date Porridge
inspired by Alice Hart

Serves 4

200g rolled oats
500 ml fresh, homemade almond milk (as per above)
4 fresh dates, pitted and sliced
50 gms pre soaked almonds, sliced thinly
2 medium size bananas, thinly sliced
shredded coconut to serve
a drizzle of maple syrup

Soak the oats in half the almond milk overnight in the refrigerator
The next morning, place the soaked oats into a medium size saucepan along with the remaining almond milk
Heat gently, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the porridge turns thick and creamy
Remove from stovetop and divide into four servings
Top with chopped dates, banana and shredded coconut

Koch, M, (2011), Laugh With Health, Renaissance Publishing, Australia
Fallon, S, (2001), Nourishing Traditions, New Trends Publishing, Washington

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  1. Anonymous20/10/11

    I currently dry-air my almonds but want to buy a dehydrator. Do you have any brand suggestions?


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