AMAZING ALMONDS

On the list of the world's healthiest foods, almonds can be used in sweet and savoury dishes, whipped up into milk, ground into flour and soaked to activate the goodness.
Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts in the world. They're punctuated with nutrients and have healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants in tow. They deliver energy that's slowly released and long-lasting. Be aware though, they have lots of calories ' 100 grams of raw nuts pack 575 calories. IN A NUTSHELL Monounsaturated fatty acids like palmitoleic acid and oleic are good for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). Daily consumption will help guard against strokes, coronary artery diseases and boost heart health. Vitamin E has antioxidant powers helping fight free radicals that cause cancers, degenerative diseases, and aging. Almonds are gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease or wheat allergies. B complex vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates are essential for metabolic functions and digestion of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Minerals like potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, zinc, magnesium and selenium contribute towards creating red blood cells, blood pressure, heart rate and bone health. CINNAMON ROASTED ALMONDS gluten-free, vegan Keep this ready snack sealed in an airtight container and it will last for a few weeks. Makes: 2 cups INGREDIENTS 2 tsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp ground Xylitol or powdered Stevia ' tsp salt 2 cups raw almonds 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil METHOD Heat the oven to 180'C. Mix the cinnamon, sweetener and salt in a large bowl. Lay out your almonds on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes. Shuffle them around and bake for another 10 minutes until they have a nice crunch. While they are still hot coat them in a very light layer of melted coconut oil and before they cool down toss them into the cinnamon mixture. Keep turning them until they are well covered. Once they have cooled down transfer them to a sealed storage container. COCONUT ALMOND BUTTER Makes about 1.5 cups When you make nut butter yourself you get it in its freshest form. This is the most delicious spread and can be spooned into smoothies; spread onto essene bread or crackers; as a topping on fruit salad, oats or muesli or any other delicious way you can think of. INGREDIENTS 2cups whole, unsalted raw almonds 1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut 2 Tbsp coconut sugar 3-5 Tbsp coconut oil, melted METHOD Use a large pan to dry fry the almonds in a single layer on medium to high heat. If you have a cast iron pan, once it's warm switch off the gas or power, it'll be hot enough. Move the almonds around in the pan so they don't burn. About 5 minutes should bring them to the right crunch. They'll start to smell delicious. Put them straight into a food processor. Cool the pan down slightly and add the coconut to toast. Move it around often as it burns easily. Once it's golden brown, it's ready. Put this in the processor with the almonds. Add the coconut sugar. Process until the almonds have broken up, keep going until your mixture is crumbly. When it's quite fine oils are released and it contracts into a ball. Keep going and it becomes a paste. If it's not turning into a paste simply add a few tablespoons of melted coconut oil to help it along. You may have to stop and scrape the sides. Feel free to add as much coconut oil as you want until it's the consistency you need. TAKE NOTE: It lasts for 5 days at room temperature; 2 weeks in the fridge and about 3 months in the freezer. ALMOND FLOUR This involves a few steps and needs time for soaking and drying. Almond flour makes the most delicious baked items and can also be used to crumb fish or chicken. 1. BLANCH Boil a pot of water. Throw your almonds in for a maximum of 60 seconds. Drain them in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the end of the almond and it should shoot out of its skin. 2. SOAK Soaking allows for better digestion and access to nutrients. Put the blanched nuts in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with spring water until the almonds are well covered. Add a generous teaspoon of salt for each cup of almonds. Stir. Cover with a cotton cloth and leave them overnight. Drain away the water (you may want to keep the water for another recipe). 3. DRY Dry the almonds using a dehydrator if you have one or use an oven. Turn your oven onto 100 degrees Celsius and let the almonds dry for between 12 and 24 hours. 4. GRIND To grind the almonds into flour you need a good processor that's able to do fine grinding. Use a cup at a time starting on slow and then increasing the speed. Your almonds will probably fly onto the sides of the container. All you do is switch it off, push them back down and start again. Keep repeating until you have a fine flour. STORAGE: If you aren't using it straight away, seal it in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer. ALMOND MILK Makes 2-3 cups of almond milk Drink almond milk on its own, flavour with vanilla or chai spices. Put it over cereal, in tea or coffee or use it in baking or in smoothies. INGREDIENTS 1 cup of raw almonds 4 cups of spring water METHOD Put a cup of whole raw almonds into a cup of boiling water in a blender. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Here you have the option of rinsing the water and adding new water. This is said to remove some of the phytic acid released while soaking. Add 3 extra cups of water and blend. Your mixture will get frothy and light. Strain out the nuts using some cheesecloth or any fine cotton fabric secured over a sieve. Press down on the nuts to get more liquid out. You can discard the solids but you can also dry them out and use them in muesli. Almond oil is one of the most common oils used cosmetically ' every kernel has a combination of two essential fatty acids. This contributes to healthy, supple skin. They also have antioxidants including vitamin E and protective plant chemicals. DID YOU KNOW? Almonds are more seed than nut. They were initially found in North Africa, West Asia and in the Mediterranean regions.

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