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From milk alternatives to creamy pesto to nut loaf, the humble almond is full of possibilities
It’s about time the humble almond matured beyond its traditionally salted seasonings. This highly versatile and nutrient packed nut, actually the seed or pit found inside of almond fruit (which is why some people allergic to most nuts are able to eat them) contains essential nutrients like protein, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin E, and monosaturated (healthy) fats.
Almonds help strengthen your bones, lower bad cholesterol, increase heart health, rejuvenate the skin, and contain anti-oxidants, which help protect cells from damage by things like air pollution and bad (oxidized) fats in fried foods.
What’s more, these tasty nuts can be eaten plain or turned into a host of healthy alternatives to milk, butter, oil, and flour, giving you the tools to make healthier dishes and even skin care products.
To get you started, here are 8 things you can easily make with almonds at home.
With its delicious nutty taste and high nutrient content, almond milk is more popular than ever. However, store-bought almond milk often contains preservatives and additives (such as flavours, gums, or carrageenan). Homemade almond milk is fresher, doesn’t have any ingredients you can’t pronounce, and is super easy to make.
Drink it straight, add it to a smoothie, cereal or granola, or use it to make creamy salad dressings. You can also heat it up and froth it using a handheld frother to top up your favourite latte.
This recipe builds on basic almond milk with the addition of vanilla and cardamom. Once you get the hang of it, try experimenting with other flavours to make your own variations.
To get the most nutrients from your almonds, opt for raw (non-irradiated or unpasteurized) almonds.
Raw almonds are a tasty, filling snack, but if you’re missing the typical salty seasonings, add some kick with curry instead.
You can also bake the nuts in the oven (for about 15 minutes) or a dehydrator (for about 8 hours) to get the same effect if you don’t want to fry them.
Why stop at sprinking almonds on top of your muffins? If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, extra protein, or simply a nuttier taste in your muffins, almonds are just the thing.
Most health food stores sell ready-made almond flour, but you can also use equal amounts of any flour and nut pulp (like the crumbly nuts left over from your almond milk). I find this combination works well for most muffin recipes.
When you want to make a quick, simple crust for a tart, reach for some almonds. This raw crust is made from crushed almonds and works great with nut pulp left over from almond milk.
At my house, no holiday is complete without a nut loaf. Nut loaves are filling and packed with nutrients. The basics involve combining a variety of crushed nuts with vegetables, mushrooms, rice, herbs, and eggs and baking the mixture in a loaf pan for about 45 minutes (depending on the recipe).
Serve a nut loaf with mushroom gravy at your next dinner party; even the meat lovers will gobble it up.
Did you know that those fancy colourful French macarons you see in boutique bakeries are made with almonds? Although these take a bit more culinary prowess, with practice everyone can master this almond delicacy. Most recipes call for crushed almonds or almond meal. What a perfect way to use up that extra nut pulp. For filling try chocolate ganache or your favourite jam.
Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but it’s just as tasty with almonds.
Almond oil and vitamin E (also called tocopherol) are often found in skincare products because they help protect skin from damage and prevent premature aging. But you don’t need to buy a fancy lotion to get these benefits. Make an almond skin scrub instead from three simple ingredients: almonds, honey and water.
First, make your almond milk. Then, you’ll need equal parts almond pulp, plain almond milk, and honey (about ¼ cup each will do). Mix all the ingredients together in a container and seal with a tight-fitting lid, and voila, your homemade almond face scrub is ready to use! This scrub will keep in the fridge for 5 days to a week. And, yes it’s okay to eat some if it happens to fall into your mouth.