The almond offers nutrition and flavor and then some. Almonds, in the form of nut milks, gives us a whole lot of versatile ways to use the seed of the fruit of the almond tree. The almond tree is related to the peach, cherry, and apricot trees, and like them bears a fruit with the stone-like seed inside. And that, my friends, is the almond nut.
Health Benefits of Almonds
Almonds are one of those foods in the “eat everyday” category. They are high in nutritional fats known as monounsaturated (the healthy fat also found in olive oil). Monounsaturated fats are linked with reducing the risk of heart disease. Research shows that substituting nuts for an equal amount of carbohydrates in your daily diet reduces your risk for heart disease by 30%. Additional research indicates that substituting nuts for saturated fats found in meat and dairy products reduces that risk by about 45%.
Almonds have a high incidence of Vitamin E and the antioxidant action of this vitamin is found to lower the incidence of LDL cholesterol, which is the form of cholesterol that causes atherosclerosis and heart disease (it’s the “bad” cholesterol). Substituting almonds for traditional fats can lower your LDL cholesterol from 8-12%. A single serving of almonds (1/4 cup) contains 45% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A.
Additional Nutritional Info on Almonds
A ¼ cup serving of almonds also contains 45% of the daily value of manganese and 20% of the daily value of copper. Both of these minerals are key players in energy production (they feed your mitochondria which are the energy factories of your cells).
Almonds also contain 25% of the daily value of magnesium and 237 mg of potassium. Together, this tag-team of magnesium and potassium helps to normalize the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body. Both are vital to heart health.
Furthermore, eating almonds with meals has been shown to keep blood sugar levels relatively stable following meals. Preventing the surge in blood sugar after meals and applying antioxidant power provides a reduced risk of diabetes. Low-glycemic index meals are shown to help keep the body in balance.
And of course almonds contain protein power. The quarter-cup serving contains 7.62 grams, more than a large egg.
How to Make Almond Milk
Adding raw almond milk to your juices or smoothies gives you all the nutritional power of the almond in liquid form. Almond milk is a great way to add an extra oomph to your juice or daily smoothie.
- 1 cup almonds
- 3 cups filtered water
- vanilla extract
Soak the almonds overnight. Remove the skins by popping the almond between your thumb and index finger (the skins come right off). Rinse the nut. Place the almonds and water in your blender and kick it up. Add the vanilla extract to taste (some folks prefer sea salt and other flavors such as lavender). Pour into a mesh strainer to separate the almond milk from almond meal.
Stain once more using a muslin cloth, a bandanna, or cheesecloth. Now you can store the almond milk in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also dry the almond meal over mesh and use for salad toppings. Add the almond milk to your smoothies or drink it straight up.
History of the Almond
Thought to have originated in Asia and North Africa, almonds are a historically-rich food mentioned in the Bible and Greek texts. Almonds are currently cultivated in countries around the Mediterranean such as Italy, Portugal, and Morocco. They are also cultivated in California, the U.S.’s only climate the almond can sustain.
Selecting and Storing Almonds
Choose raw almonds to make nut milks. If you can find packaged almonds then go for those, but if you’re buying almonds from a bulk foods section in your market, make sure the store has a high turnover and the bins are sealed to ensure freshness. Almonds should be uniform in color and firm. Avoid almonds that are shriveled or limp. The smell should be sweet and nutty. If they smell sharp or bitter, then the nuts are rancid.
Store your raw almonds in a tightly sealed container, preferably glass, in a cool, dry, place. You can always store your almonds in the refrigerator where they can be kept for months. If stored in the freezer, the almonds will keep for up to a year.