A is for Almonds

29 Aug 2011

Posted by karen
karen's picture

Welcome to the first post about the heart of the matter - the real food. This summer, three of my grandchildren (and their parents) have been living with us. My kitchen has been a production center for (mostly) all things healthy, including high energy treats which often use almonds. My opening act is going to showcase this personal favorite nut, which happens to start with the letter A, and is “a very good place to start.”

First, some FAQs - Almonds contain laetrile, giving this nut the claim to be considered cancer-preventing. Most of the fats in almonds are polyunsaturated and high in linoleic acid - the body's main EFA (essential fatty acid). They're high in calcium and vitamin E and contain some of the B vitamins. They contain good amounts of copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium - also zinc, magnesium, manganese and selenium are present in almonds.

So it's for good reason that raw almonds are one of my pantry staples - for adding to home-made granola, sprinkling on salads and cereal, tossing in a trail mix, and traveling companions for a quick pick-me-up. They’re readily available to buy, are tasty raw or toasted, and when it comes to the price of nuts they’re a good bang for your buck. Soaking almonds for a few hours makes them easier to digest.

Almond Milk Recipe

This is my recipe for making almond milk, which is quick, easy, and costs between 1/2 to 2/3 of the store-bought price. The real bonus? The list of ingredients is healthy and short: water, almonds.

Step #1 - Soak one cup of raw almonds in water overnight, ensuring they're well-covered.

Step #2 - In the morning, rinse well, draining the water. Put almonds into a blender along with 4 cups of fresh water. I have a Vitamix blender (one of my hardest-working kitchen tools and a brand I highly recommend), but a sturdy blender will do the trick. 

Step #3 - Blend water and almonds until totally blended. For my Vitamix, that's on high for 2-3 minutes straight; if using another brand I suggest stopping your machine every 30 seconds or so, continuing to start and stop for a few minutes until the water and almonds are thoroughly blended.

Step #4 - Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, a fine strainer, or my first choice is a mesh bag like these Care Bags  (I get mine from ellora) -  they eliminate most of the mess that can be a deterrent to making almond milk. Gently squeeze and twist the bag, releasing the almond milk. Pour into a jar and refrigerate. Shake well before using, as some of the ground almond mixture will settle at the bottom.

This rich, creamy milk poured over cooked whole grain cereal, or with fresh fruit with raisins, or blended in a smoothie tastes like dessert! The almond meal that's left in the bag can be added to bread dough or muffin batter, composted, or offered as yummy morsels if you have happy chickens in your back yard.

Another go-to favorite in our house is almond butter. If you're hooked on it too you know it can be pricey, used sparingly as a treat.  Based on the best quality (non-organic) almond butter available where I shop, I've calculated that making my own almond butter cuts the price in half and it is fresh, fresh, fresh! It's not difficult, also is quick, but you must use a top quality food processor, like Cuisinart or Bosch, to be the work horse on this one.

Almond Butter Recipe

Step #1- Spread 3 cups raw almonds on a large cookie sheet and put into oven that's been preheated to 325 degrees F. Roast for 10 minutes and give the pan a shake. Put back in oven for another 10 minutes. Give pan another shake. Continue to roast for 3-4 minutes and check to make sure the almonds aren't getting too dark. Depending on your oven they shouldn't need much more than another 5 minutes. If they start to crack, they are darker than what I like. Remove from oven.

Step #2 - Move the almonds into the food processor bowl with the S blade in postition. There's no need to cool the almonds, in fact they release the oils better if they are still warm.

Step #3 - Process in short spurts, frequently scraping around the bowl. There'll be lots of starting, stopping and scraping but in about 10-12 minutes the almonds will be processed into a smooth enough consistency for yummy butter.

Step #4 - Be prepared to stand your ground in licking out the bowl.

A no-guilt snack - delicious dip for apple wedges, a spread for your favorite whole grain toast, scooping by the spoonful out of the jar. Refrigerate what's left. 

This is just the beginning of ideas for real food options. I look forward to you joining me on an interesting and inspiring journey, exploring our way through the joys of juices, the scoop on squash, and beyond to a 'zillion' ways of enjoying zucchini. 

(Photo credits FIMBY)

Comments

Katja's picture

I love it! What a great post!


Jill Foley's picture

Your new blog looks great. I need so much help in this area and look forward to learning from you!

 

I want to try both of the above suggestions, but lack the kitchen appliances. Hmmm.....


karen's picture

Sorry, that is a problem. Kitchen appliances can be costly. But one thing I do recommend: if, and when, you're able to purchase them buy a good quality one that will be able to do the job for you. I wish you well in someday making that happen.  


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Cindy's picture

Hi Karen,

I'm going to bookmark your blog, because I'm sure I will enjoy it just as much as I enjoy Renee's blog.  I'm sure she gets her talents from you!  You must be enjoying having them for the summer! 


karen's picture

Thanks, Cindy. Renee's set the bar pretty high...Being together this summer has been a gift - lots of fun, delicious food, and inspiration by all the creative energy and challenge. 


Dawna's picture

I'm now off to soak more nuts to make almond butter. LOVE the pictures of you making everything. Helps me remember the step by step process.

And I didn't know Almonds had selenium in them. Awesome.

Looking forward to more yummy, healthy, and informative recipes. ;D

 


karen's picture

Thanks, Dawna. I can just see the bowl of almonds added to your line-up of the other soaking nuts you often have sitting on your counter.


Ken & Christine's picture

Who new, Wow I knew almonds were good for you but that looks excellent Karen.  We will definately try making the milk and butter.  Thanks K&C


karen's picture

Great to hear from you - eat well, be well!


Heidi's picture

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Jay's picture

I really enjoy this post. I've subscribed and will keep coming back for more of the same.


karen's picture

Thanks, Jay. It's wonderful having an in-house pro photographer. She and I have some fast-tracking tutoring sessions coming up.


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Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.


Beth Wagenius's picture

This is going to be a great resource. Thank you. Do you recommend organic or just almonds in general? Where would you find unsalted?


karen's picture

I rarely buy organic almonds - they are quite a bit more expensive and for my organic-buying dollars, there are other foods, (e.g. spinach and celery) that I would buy instead. Unsalted nuts are usually available in the baking section of supermarkets or at a food store that sells products in bulk.


Beth Wagenius's picture

Oh I'm glad to hear that. I was thinking organic would no doubt be expensive. Food budgeting and deciding which needs to be organic is tricky. Thanks for the advice. Am looking forward to more!


Emily 's picture

Congratulations on your blog!

I'm looking forward to reading and learning at realfoodmatters.

Time to go put almonds on the grocery list of this week.

Emily from Waterville, Maine

(ps. Give your daughter a hug for me.)


karen's picture

Be warned, "A" might become Addicted to Almonds :) Happy to deliver the hug. 


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Vickie LeBlanc's picture

Thank you for sharing what you know with us.  And you started with my favorite nut.  I eat almonds every day.  Mid-morning when I feel a little hungry I reach for a few almonds.  It's amazing how it can satisfy you.  Hope to read some more soon.


desilou's picture

I was just reading over at FIMBY and saw the new post about your blog - I am so excited for you and what sounds like an amazing blog!  I'd always imagined almond milk would be a lengthy, difficult process yet you've made it look completely simple and delicious. You've inspired me to try my hand at it. I'm looking forward to learning more through your writing here 


karen's picture

It really isn't complicated at all. Good thing, too - because it tastes so good you'll want to make it often!


Jessica's picture

I wish that we didn't have a nut allergy in the family. This looks so good and easy. My boys love pkg'd almond milk, so I'm sure they would love this more. Looking forward to what comes next!


karen's picture

It's difficult to buy pkg'd almond milk without additives, often including sweeteners.


Spring's picture

I have been making rice milk in my vitamix... now I'll definitely try the almond milk for a nice alternative!

Looking forward to future yummy posts!


Catherine Forest's picture

Thanks for the recipes! I will give the almond butter a try. I made some in my Champion once and almost killed it. Which food processor (brand) do you have? Mine is getting old...


karen's picture

I have a Cuisinart food processor - I love it. It doesn' have to be pampered: these machines (if treated with 'respect and kindness')  last for years.


Shan's picture

Hi Karen,

I follow your daughter's blog and love reading what she has to say.  Well, now I know where she gets her writing skills...YoU!!  Your post was interesting and very informative and LOVE the pictures.  Thanks for the post.  I look forward to your next post.

Smiles,

Shan


karen's picture

I'm very blessed to have a photo expert living with me. Unfortunately this will come to an end so am on a sharp photography-learning curve.


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Francesca's picture

welcome to blogland Karen, and thanks for this post!


Meagan- ecoMILF's picture

I am going to love these posts. Thanks for sharing. We have a thermomix and make just about everything you can imagine from scratch. We are a vegetarian family but trying to switch to even more wholefood based recipes- replacing wholewheat flour with rice flour etc. Look forward to mire. xo m.


karen's picture

It's always great hearing from others who like to cook starting with the "raw materials". 


Ellen's picture

I'm so glad you started your blog! Renee is so awesome and her post about your birthday just made me weeo and call my mom! We make almond milk in our old Soyabella - a soy milk maker - LOVE almond milk. I tried making almond butter in my cuisinart and it started smoking! It's 10 years old or so. I'll try again. I pay an arm and a leg for almond butter - sooo yummy on toast in the am!

Welcome to blogland!


karen's picture

My Cuisinart is about 5 years old; it's a line between letting this tool do its work and treating it with respect (a.k.a. not having to buy a new one!). For the almond butter, I run it only for a few seconds at a time, especially at the beginning when the nuts are still warm.  Take your time making it - hopefully there won't be any smoke. 


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Anca's picture

Although I have used almonds to make raw cake a couple of times I never thought of making almond butter. Thank you so much for the idea! Looking forward to reading your blog and learnign from you!

(Is there a way to subscribe to your feed, I'd love to add your blog to my feed reader but couldn't find the RSS buton : ) ? )


karen's picture

I'm very fluent talking about food but when it comes to techie stuff I stumble along.  There may be an RSS feed option up on your browser 'line'. Another idea is to Google how to do it for your browser. And, if you don't mind waiting, I will have that RSS subscribe option available after my appointment with my technical assistant on Tuesday :)


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texassky's picture

Thanks for the almond milk tip. I never knew how easy it was! I am going to try this one this weekend since I am lactose intolerant and struggling with cow's milk. I have tried coconut milk and was NOT a fan. I've tried soy milk, but it can be pricey in our stores in Houston. Maybe this will be my solution :) Thanks again. And, I am really looking forward to the zuccini recipes!


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Emily's picture

I'm so happy to get to know you and learn from you. Thank you in advance for all that you'll be sharing. I make almond milk, but I've yet to try almond butter. I think I just might go for it, now.


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Peter & Sheila's picture

Hi Karen,

You do realise that we will want to try all of the recipes you intend to share with the world when we visit next year!

Bless

Sheila & Peter

 


karen's picture

In a year's time that could be a long list - which would mean a lengthy visit. Yeah!!


Gina's picture

Hi Renee's mom!  (Sorry....that's probably how I'll remember you all the time!)  So glad to see you have a blog and I'm excited to follow along.  I have to say....I'm in Heather's 30-Day Vegan course and when Renee did the video on cooking beans in a pressure cooker, I kept wishing I had your kitchen.  :)    I can't wait to learn from all you'll be sharing.  


karen's picture

I am blessed with a beautiful kitchen, a bonus of having a builder-husband. It's a grand place for cooking, plus large enough for everyone to gather and get in the action. Thanks for stopping by...


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