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Almonds—So good for you

Genesis 1:29—And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a glorious medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut. Almonds are off-white in color, covered by a thin brownish skin, and encased in a hard shell. Almonds are classified into two categories: sweet and bitter.

Sweet almonds are the type that are eaten. They are oval in shape, usually malleable in texture and wonderfully buttery in taste. They are available in the market either still in their shell or with their shell removed. Shelled almonds are available whole, sliced or slivered in either their natural form, with their skin or blanched, with their skin removed. Almonds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and are associated with a number of health benefits. Just a handful of almonds — approximately 1 ounce — contain one-eighth of our daily protein needs.

MAKE YOUR OWN EASY ALMOND MILK

Although we drink milk, my husband and I like using almond milk especially for smoothies. We buy our organic almonds from Shiloh Farms at Vitacost.com or we order the NOW brand. We used to buy almond milk from the grocery store until we started making our own and realized how watered down it is and there are additives in it that are not good for us.

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked in water for 6 to 8 hours, then drained

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 Medjool dates pitted

Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Strain through strainer. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. This recipe can be doubled by increasing the almonds and water content.

How to store almonds: It is important to store them properly in order to protect them from becoming rancid. Store shelled almonds in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. Keeping them cold will further protect them from rancidity and prolong their freshness. Refrigerated almonds will keep for several months, while if stored in the freezer, almonds can be kept for up to a year. Shelled almond pieces will become rancid more quickly than whole shelled almonds. Almonds still in the shell have the longest shelf life. You can find out more about almonds and their nutritional benefits by visiting George Mateljan: The World’s Healthiest Foods at Whfoods.org.

Until next time.

Alice Russell, also known as “Me Me,” resides in the Randolph/ Saxe area. She can be reached at letstalkherbs@gmail.com.

About Alice Russell

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