Already a popular healthy snack choice, new research has shown that once digested and absorbed, almonds actually may provide up to 25% fewer calories than what the label says! One ounce of almonds, about 23 nuts, provides 160 quality calories. In this small amount, you get 6 grams of protein, 12 vitamins and mineral, 12 grams of healthy fats and 3.5 grams of fibre. Unfortunately, with nut-free school policies in effect for 12+ years for many kids these days, a lot of families have reduced their intake of healthy nuts – even at home. Fully respect the policies and avoid bringing nuts to school. When a nut-allergic person is not present in your home, be sure to take advantage of the benefits of almonds and other nuts and seeds.
7 easy ways to enjoy the benefits in your meals and snacks:
- Store natural nut or seed butters, like peanut, almond or pumpkin, upside down. Because they’re all-natural and lack the ‘bad’ hydrogenated fats to keep the oils from separating, storing this way makes them perfectly spreadable when you go to use them.
- Keep a supply of pre-toasted nuts on hand for adding to cereal, yogurt, salads and more. To make: spread nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350ᵒF oven for about 10 minutes, or until aromatic and starting to turn light brown. Set a timer and watch carefully near the end to avoid burning them. Cool and store in the freezer for quick grabbing or using in baking.
3. Add almonds or other nuts or seeds to your smoothie for a protein boost. A couple very tasty ideas:
- PB Banana Smoothie: Peanut butter, chocolate almond milk, frozen banana chunks
- Vanilla Almond Smoothie: Toasted almonds, frozen banana chunks, cinnamon, almond milk
- Cherry Almond Smoothie: Frozen pitted cherries, almond butter and plain or vanilla almond milk
- Replace croutons with toasted, crumbled almonds on your favourite salads. They’re especially delicious with sesame-soy Asian style salad dressings.
- Turn almonds into flour (almond meal). Finely grind them in a food processor and stop before they begin turning into nut butter. This makes a nutritious flour that is naturally gluten-free too. Google recipes using almond meal or almond flour. Here’s a quick idea:
Instant GF ‘English muffin’: Break one egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork until frothy. Stir in 3-4 Tbsp of almond meal (finely ground almonds), 1 Tbsp canola oil, 1/8 tsp baking powder and a tiny sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. If desired, add a sprinkle of Parmesan, cinnamon or a savoury dried herb like garlic or basil. Lightly mist a dessert dish or ramekin with cooking oil spray. Transfer batter to the dish, smooth the top. Microwave on high for about 90 seconds. Allow to cool. Slice in half, toast and use for delicious egg breakfast sandwiches or snacks.
- Make your own chocolate-almond or hazelnut spread in small batches. By making it at home you avoid undesirable ingredients like icing sugar and hydrogenated palm oil. Still, whether you make homemade or use store-bought, know that this is a treat or dessert and not a low-calorie or high protein option for breakfast. Recipe below.
- Make sweet or savory spiced almond snacks. Find lots of recipes online for sweet, spicy or sweet and salty almonds that can satisfy a craving instead of grabbing potato chips.
Chocolate-Nut Spread Makes about 1 cup
- ½ cup hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts, toasted
- 4-6 oz melted dark or milk chocolate
- 1 Tbsp canola oil or liquid oil of your choice
- 1 Tbsp cocoa (or cacao) powder
- 1/8 tsp sea salt, optional
- 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice, optional, depending on sweetness of the chocolate used
- Toast hazelnuts (or nuts of choice): Heat oven to 350ᵒF. Spread hazelnuts on a pan. Roast for about 12-15 minutes or until golden and aromatic. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Allow to cool slightly. Transfer nuts to a clean tea towel and roll in your hands to remove much of the skin.
- In a food processor, chop nuts until as fine as possible and maybe even starting to get creamy like nut butter.
- Add all remaining ingredients and continue processing on high until the spread reaches desired smoothness.
- Transfer to a storage container with a lid. Can be kept on the kitchen counter for up to a week, otherwise store in the fridge.
Ideas for using your chocolate hazelnut spread:
- Enjoy as a dip for fresh fruit like strawberries, banana slices, melon chunks and pineapple.
- Spread on a warm crepe.
- Use to make a waffle “sandwich”.
- Add to your favourite homemade buttercream icing recipe for an extra special frosting.
- Stir into a little real vanilla bean ice cream for a gourmet treat!
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