Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Just a handful of almonds, approximately one ounce, contains one-eighth of our necessary daily protein
Wonderfully delicious, almonds have long been revered as the epitome of wellness and health. The nuts are among the richest sources of health-benefiting nutrients essential for optimum health.
Botanically, they are the fruits from medium size tree belonging in the family of Rosaceae, in genus: Prunus. The plant is a deciduous tree, native to mineral-rich West-Asian mountain ranges that provide fertile conditions favorable for their growth. In recent years, it is being cultivated in many regions of the world as an important commercial crop.
Health benefits of Almonds
Almond nuts are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals. These nuts compose of well-balanced food principles that are essential for optimum health and wellness.
Almonds are the complete source of energy as well as nutrients. The nuts, especially, are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic, and palmitoleic acids that help in lowering LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increasing HDL or “good cholesterol” in the human body. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is excellent in monounsaturated fatty acids, help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
The nuts are an excellent source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining cell membrane integrity of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Almonds are free in gluten, and therefore, are one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations are, in fact, healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergy, and celiac disease.
The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Altogether, these vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism.
Furthermore, almonds are also an incredible source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
Almond oil, extracted from the nuts, can be employed as an emollient. Applied regularly, it helps keep skin well protected from dryness. Additionally, the oil is used in cooking in Iran, and Turkey. It is also used as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in aromatherapy, in pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries.
Cooking with Almonds…
Have a look below at a few my my favourite almond recipes.
Almond & Bacon Brussel Sprouts
6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used turkey bacon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 pounds large Brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and ground pepper
-Place the bacon in a large skillet and fry over medium heat until the fat renders and the bacon is crisp.
-Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.
-Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the skillet. Add the olive oil, garlic, and almonds to the skillet.
-Saute over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Add in the trimmed and quartered Brussel sprouts and the soy sauce.
-Cook, stirring frequently, until the sprouts are tender – about 6-8 minutes.
-Stir in the bacon; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spicy Almond Cider
This spiked hot apple cider recipe combines Mediterranean spices like cloves, allspice and cinnamon along with Disaronno Italian Liqueur. It’s the perfect flavour for fall. Delicious.
Author: The Mediterranean Dish
4 cups apple cider
½ cup orange juice
8 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp ground allspice
Disaronno Italian Liqueur
Place all ingredients except the liqueur in a heavy saucepan or pot. Heat on medium-high until cider begins to bubble. Now lower heat and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes or so. Stir occasionally.
Prepare four serving cups. Pour 1 to 1.5 ounces into each cup. Top with the hot cider. Stir briefly.
Let spices settle into the bottom. Enjoy!
Almond Crusted Mac & Cheese
12 oz. (350g) elbow macaroni or other small, short-cut pasta
2 cups (475 ml) milk
3 tablespoons (55g) butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish.
3 tablespoons (23g) flour
1 3/4 cups (about 150g) shredded cheese (preferably aged cheddar)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
a handful of ground almonds
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it’s just underdone (not quite al dente). Drain and run the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until it just comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, and set aside. In a large pot set over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the flour is cooked and the resulting roux is a light brown color. Whisk in the heated milk and stir constantly for about 3 minutes, until thick and smooth.
Stir in the cheese and the mustard until it’s all melted together and well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the pasta into the pot and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the ground almonds.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbly.