What nut is as good at satisfying mid-afternoon munchies as it is at adding crunch, nutrition and flavor to breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert? Almonds. From granola and weight-conscious salads to sauced-up stir-fry and elegant pastries, almonds have a place in every part of your day -- and in almost every type of cuisine.
Technically, they're seeds
Almonds are technically not nuts. Well, not a true nut, anyway. An almond is the seed of a drupe, a kind of fruit related to peaches and cherries. That explains why a few drops of almond extract in the filling of peach or cherry pie are so complementary. Add some ground almonds when you make the crust for that same fruit pie, and you have an amazing dessert.
...And they're versatile
Almonds can be made into meal and "milk," pressed into oil, eaten straight or used as an ingredient. They can be toasted, smoked, sliced, slivered or just eaten raw. Almond extract imparts an intense almond flavor to pastries and cookies, and almond butter is a delicious alternative to peanut butter.
Types of almonds
There are two types of almonds: Bitter and sweet. While there's a poison that's a side product of bitter almonds, sweet almonds have been cultivated around the world for centuries after originating in the Middle East. Bonus: Almonds are a great source of protein, vitamin B2, vitamin E, phosphorous and magnesium.They're great straight from the bag, but here are some other ways to enjoy them:
- Add toasted sliced or slivered almonds to salads
- Add sliced almonds to rice as it cooks
- Add slivered almonds to wheat bread during the kneading step
- Add chopped almonds to breading for chicken or shrimp
- Use in cookies in place of other nuts
- Sprinkle blanched almonds over steamed broccoli
Even more almond recipes
Beef and Almond Stir-fry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds beef, thinly sliced
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup prepared stir-fry sauce
1/2 cup slivered almondsDirections:
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add beef and saute three minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add green beans and garlic to pan and saute 4 minutes. Return steak to pan. Stir in sauce and almonds until heated through. Serve over brown rice.
Wild Rice, Almond and Vegetable Risotto
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek (white and light green part only), trimmed and diced
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
2/3 cup diced carrots
8 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup toasted sliced almondsDirections:
1. Bring broth, salt and pepper to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat. In another saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and leek, and cook until soft. Stir in rice and carrots, coating them with butter or oil.
2. Turn heat to low. Stir in broth, 1 cup at a time, waiting for rice to absorb liquid before adding more broth. Add asparagus and peas when about 1 cup of broth is left. Stir in almonds just before serving.
Cherry and Almond Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffinsIngredients:
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup AE Dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup almond oil
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup sliced almonds, roastedDirections:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla, almond oil and almond extract.
2. Blend the wet and dry ingredients until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Fold in dried cherries and almonds. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
Almond, Grapefruit and Blood Orange Salad
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 grapefruits, peeled and segmented
2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
6 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, in bite-size pieces
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toastedDirections:
1. In a blender, whir orange juice, vinegar, oil, honey, ginger, salt and pepper flakes until well combined. In a bowl, combine the grapefruit and orange segments with the onion and dressing. Let sit 30 minutes to let the flavors absorb.
2. Arrange spinach on four plates. Divide the dressed fruit among them and sprinkle with almonds.