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Top 5 Ways to Use Almonds
What could be lovelier than a handful of crunchy, nutty almonds? These trusty nuts are so versatile and reliable, whether you’re reaching for raw, roasted, slivered, or sliced almonds, as well as almond meal, milk, or butter. No wonder they have become a staple in many households, including my own. You will always find all of those forms of almonds in my kitchen, as I turn to these tree nuts for a variety of snacking, toppings, baking, and cooking needs. Beyond taste and versatility, these crisp nuts are beneficial for your health, too. Filled with many heart-healthy nutrients, almonds can be a healthy, tasty addition to your diet, as either a snack or added to your favorite recipes.
Almonds and Health
Almonds, the most consumed tree nut in the world, are the edible seeds of Prunus dulcis, or simply the almond tree. Packed with healthy unsaturated fats (namely the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid), protein, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, they offer a variety of health bonuses. Studies have linked almonds and other tree nuts with improved glycemic control, insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and weight loss and maintenance. A recent review in Nutrients also found that daily consumption may improve lipid profile and help manage risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol levels. Moreover, a recent randomized intervention study found that both walnut- and almond-enriched diets improved endothelial function in overweight participants.
Almonds are packed with plenty of nutrients, including protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. One ounce (28.35 g) contains 6 g protein, 14 g fat (mostly unsaturated fat), and 3.5 g dietary fiber, as well as calcium (76 mg), magnesium (77 mg), phosphorus (136 mg), potassium (208 mg), and vitamin E (7 mg). This nutrition profile makes them an excellent addition to your diet, including as a plant-based protein serving.
With so many different forms available, there are just so many ways to enjoy this delicious, hearty, plant-based food. You can simply buy them whole and eat them right out of hand as the perfect snack, or add them to your favorite recipes, like salads, cereals, baked goods, entrees, and smoothies. Research shows that eating a handful of nuts, like almonds, each day is a healthy habit for your heart, so munch on those almonds!
Check out these 5 simple, nutritious tips on how you can boost your day with this healthy nut.
Top 5 Ways to Use Almonds
1. Sliver Almonds Over Fruit. Turn a simple fruit dish—fruit salad, baked grapefruit, or fruit cobbler—into something fabulous with the easy addition of almonds. For example, check out this tasty, healthy Sautéed Figs with Cinnamon and Almonds recipe, which is a rustic, low-sugar fruit dessert that features fresh figs sautéed with almonds, cinnamon and cardamom. Pair this recipe with plant-based vanilla ice cream or sorbet, or as a topping for pancakes or waffles.
2. Stir Almonds into Your Favorite Baked Goods. Almonds are fabulous stirred into all manner of baked recipes, such as coffee cakes, bars, crumbles, or cookies. For instance, you can turn strawberries, aquafaba (bean water), brown sugar, vanilla, plant-based milk, coconut or vegetable oil, flour, baking powder, shredded coconut, and slivered almonds into this delicious, Sunday morning Strawberry Coconut Almond Coffee Cake. Looking for a snack or dessert that’s easy to prepare, light in sugar, and delightful when paired with English tea? Check out this Lavender Almond Cookies recipe that uses dried lavender flowers, chopped almonds, almond flour, and aquafaba to create soft lavender cookies that are tasty and not too sweet.
3. Mix Almonds into a Delicious Smoothie. Almonds add a great nutty flavor and health profile of protein and healthy fats when combined with fruits and vegetables in your favorite smoothie. Mild in flavor, the almonds don’t overpower your smoothie—you can add whole almonds, almond butter, and even almond milk to triple up on the almond nutrition. And don’t stop at sweet smoothies; check out my savory, nutrient-rich Zesty Tomato Smoothie, which calls upon canned tomatoes, almonds, plant milk, lime, onions, jalapeño, cilantro, and a dash of smoked paprika and black pepper. Nutritious smoothies can be enjoyed as a snack, post-workout fuel, and light breakfast.
4. Slather on the Almond Butter. If you’re looking for a creamy, yummy nut butter, look no further than almond butter. Spread almond butter on toast, sandwiches, or bananas, or use it in baking to replace some of the fat (margarine or oil). You can even serve almond butter as a dip with sliced veggies and fruit, or as an earthy topping for your cereal or smoothie bowl.
5. Whip into a Savory Dip or Cream. Almonds add a rich, plant-based touch to vegan creamy dips or sauces that pair nicely with savory dishes, such as veggie “meat” balls, lentil patties, or baked potatoes. Soaked almonds offer star power in this Almond Sage Cranberry Crema recipe, which can be made in minutes. You can swap the sage and cranberries for basil and sun-dried tomatoes, or cilantro and jalapenos, for other flavor profiles, too. In addition, you can enjoy raw almonds soaked and blended into an almond soft cheese or ricotta; and unsoaked almonds can be ground into an almond cotija or parmesan. Check out my book California Vegan for my home-made Almond Cilantro Cotija recipe. Store in the fridge and enjoy up to a week!
For more of my favorite almond recipes, check out these:
Get to know more about how to use these plant foods with my Top 5 Ways:
- Hou YY, Ojo O, Wang LL, et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare the Effect of Peanuts and Almonds on the Cardio-Metabolic and Inflammatory Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1565. Published 2018 Oct 23. doi:10.3390/nu10111565
- Kalita et al. Almonds and Cardiovascular Health: A Review. Nutrients2018, 10(4), 468; doi:3390/nu10040468
- Bhardwaj et al. Acute effects of diets rich in almonds and walnuts on endothelial function. Indian Heart Journal. Volume 70, Issue 4,July–August 2018, Pages 497-501. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ihj.2018.01.030
- USDA Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. Basic Report: 12061, Nuts, almond https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?home=true
- USDA Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. Full Report (All Nutrients): 45059935, ALMOND BUTTER, UPC: 858864004029. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?home=true