Friday, September 23, 2011

All About Almonds

More on the topic of nuts...
Today we will focus on almonds.  Almonds are actually nutrient rich seeds of the fruit from almond trees.  Ounce for ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritionally dense nuts.

They are rich in vitamin E and manganese as well as being a good source of magnesium, copper, riboflavin, phosphorus, fibre, and protein.  Almonds also contain 20 flavonoids in their skin (so you should eat actual almonds to get the benefit) which work with vitamin C and E to create antioxidant action.

Some of the health benefits of almonds include the cholesterol lowering monounsaturated fats and antioxidant vitamin E which combine to help reduce heart disease risk.  Almonds can also help stabilize blood sugars which can be attributed to the fibre and protein content.  The slower metabolism of fat, protein, and fibre can provide a feeling of satiety and help you manage your weight when consuming nuts in small portions.

There are a variety of almond products available on the market.  Almond butter is readily available in most grocery stores as an alternative to peanut butter.  Almond milk is sometimes consumed in place of cow's milk or fortified soy milk - it can be much lower in protein and often doesn't have a comparable nutrient profile.  Make sure to read labels, and if you still choose almond milk, you will need to choose other foods to get all the nutrients you need.

Remember to practice portion control: 1 serving (1/4 cup or 60 mL) = 208 Calories, 8 g protein, 18 g fat (of which 16 g is unsaturated), and 4 g of fibre.



Storage:

  • Store shelled almonds in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. They will keep for several months in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer. 
  • Almonds still in the shell have the longest shelf life. 

Recipe:

I have had this dish or a variation of it at someone's house before and it was a nice combination of textures.  There are many variations on Green Bean Almondine out there too, this one comes from Cooking Nook.  

Green Bean Almondine
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds fresh green beans, French cut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
lemon twist (optional)

Combine the water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Add the beans and return the water to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until they are almost tender. Drain.
Sauté the almonds in the butter at medium heat until golden. Reduce the heat to medium low, stir in the lemon juice and salt. Add the beans and cook for another minute or two, making sure the beans get covered in the buttery sauce.

Arrange the beans on a platter and serve garnished with a lemon twist or a few thin slices of lemon.

Makes 8 servings.


Steph Wheler, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching
www.nutrishus.com
 
Sources:
Canadian Living, Everything you need to know about nuts, Danielle Ng-See-Quan
World's Healthiest Foods, Almonds
Almond Board of California, 2010

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