THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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We buy jumbo packages of raw almonds at Costco. Photo courtesy Niederegger Marzipan.
February 16th is National Almond Day. Almonds are great for snacking, roasted or raw; and are so flavorful they don’t need added salt or salted seasonings.
Enjoy some almond triva, then scroll down for a butter-enhanced recipe for Chinese Almond Cookies.
ALMOND HISTORY & TRIVIA
Historians generally agree that almonds and dates, both mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods. The only other nut mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11) is the pistachio nut.
Between 600 and 900 C.E., almond trees began to flourish in the Mediterranean, in Greece, Israel, Spain and Morocco. Because of their portability, explorers consumed them while traveling the Silk Road between the Mediterranean region and China.
Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches. In this case, it’s the “stone” that is eaten. The botanical name of the almond tree is Prunus amygdalus.
California produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds. The world’s largest almond factory is in Sacramento; it processes 2 million pounds of almonds a day. California produced 998 million pounds of almonds in 2004. The largest crop on record was in 2002: 1.084 billion pounds.
It takes more than 1.2 million bee hives to pollinate California’s almond crop, which spans more than 550,000 acres.
Chocolate manufacturers use 40% of the almond crop (and 20% of the world’s peanuts).
It takes 1,000 pounds of almonds to make 1 pint of almond oil.
There are 5,639 people in the U.S. listed on Whitepages.com with the last name “Almond” (source: Mark Morton, “Gastronomica,” Fall 2010).
The Jordan almond, a large plump variety of almond from Malaga, Spain, is considered to be the finest cultivated almond. It is frequently sold with a hard colored sugar coating.
Almonds are the most nutrient-dense tree nut. One ounce of almonds (20-25 almonds) contains 160 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol. The unsaturated fat in almonds is “good” fat, with 13 grams per one-ounce serving.
Almonds are also an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of protein and potassium.
Almonds are highest in protein and fiber of all the tree nuts.
The protein in almonds is more like the proteins in human breast milk of all the seeds and nuts, which is why it is the choice of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine as the base for its baby formula.
Almonds are known for high satiety, almonds provide the perfect pre-workout boost, are easy to keep in your office drawer stash, for snacking alone or with yogurt or fruit.
RECIPE: ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES
These almond butter cookies are a whole-wheat and almond butter version of the classic Chinese almond cookie. The recipe was developed by Ellie Krieger, author of So Easy:Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.
You can find more almond-based recipes at the Almond Board of California’s website..
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or regular whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth, unsalted almond butter
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
36 raw whole almonds (a heaping 1/4 cup)
Ingredients For 36 Cookies
Almond butter cookies. Photo courtesy The Almond Board.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. WHISK together the flours, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In another large bowl beat together the butter, almond butter and sugars until fluffy.
3. ADD the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, bending well.
4. SHAPE the dough into 3/4 inch balls, and place on the baking sheets. Place an almond in center of each cookie and press down lightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
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