I learn a lot of things from my smart (and very cute) wife. Debbie routinely buys large
bags that contain small packets of roasted almonds when we frequent Trader Joe’s. We
stock at least one bag in our freezer (because nuts can get rancid). She has them in her
lunch bag almost every day, some in our refrigerator, some on our “Lazy Susan” and you
probably find some under the driver’s seat in her car, and a few lone almonds in the
bottom of her purse, the ones that “got away.” I was beginning to think she had stock in
the almond market. So one day I decided to find out what the big deal is with almonds and
do some research.
I learned that almonds should be on everyone’s power food list, for several reasons.
Nutritionally speaking, almonds are a great source of protein, if you are trying to build
muscle mass you need lots of protein. An ounce of almonds contains almost 6 grams of
protein, or about 12% of the daily requirement for healthy protein consumption. Almonds
also are a great source of fiber, phosphorus and magnesium.
Almonds are also loaded with fat, but don’t freak out. These little gems are high in
monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats found in olive oil, that can
reduced risk of heart disease. If you have high LDL numbers in your last annual physical
(like I did), cut down on the meat and dairy products in your diet and substitute your fat
cravings with almonds. You can potentially reduce your heart disease risk by 30% to 45%
according to some studies, while LDL cholesterol can be reduced from 8 to 12%. Healthy
levels of vitamin E are also known to have positive effects on reducing heart disease
because of the antioxidants. Just one ounce of almonds provides you with 37% of your
daily requirement for vitamin E.
Warning: Don’t be deceived by thinking those smoked almonds with lots of salt will be
good for you. Those little babies are loaded with salt (sodium) and can jack your blood
pressures to levels you do not want. If you want to eat something like that, make your own
and control the amount of salt you use. See my recipe below which contains less than 6%
of the daily allowance for sodium for a modest portion.
Now let’s get practical. The holiday season is coming up and for some of us that
translates to weight gain. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day holiday gatherings
abound and that almost always means lots of tasty foods, and sizeable portions,
“seconds” and sometimes “thirds.” You can better manage your weight by eating a small
handful of nuts follow by at least 12 ounces of water 30 minutes before the holiday family
feeding frenzy begins. Why? Because the (healthy) fat in the nuts actually will help
suppress your appetite. Almonds are one of the power foods commonly used in helping
fight obesity because it helps reduce cravings for food.
My brilliant wife “learned me” a thing or two. One of those not-so-trivial things is that
almonds may very well help me live longer and healthier, not to mention they taste great.
Almonds are not only a great snack but are essentially great healthy pills naturally and
beautifully wrapped in their own brown nutritional coat. With the holiday season
approaching, we typically purchase several pound of raw almonds when we find them on
sale. I roast them in the over at 400 degrees F, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until I can just start
smelling that wonderful aroma. Then the fun begins. I season them several different
ways, some sweet, some spicy hot and some spicy and hot. They make a great gift from
the heart during the holiday season (and help curb my appetite so I can maintain this
svelte body of mine – Hah). Enjoy.
Chef David Hall’s Sweet and Spicy Almonds
3 tablespoons water
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups whole roasted almonds
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg white and then add the water.
- Add the remaining ingredients but nuts and mix well.
- Add the nuts and stir until well-coated.
- Spread evenly onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet or baking pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes, stirring about every 15 minutes.
- Spread out on parchment paper to cool.
- Store in an airtight container.
Copyright 2011, Thyme for a Chef, LLC. All rights reserved.