Almonds

A high-fat food that’s good for your health!

A high-fat food that’s good for your health? That’s not an oxymoron, its almonds. Fortunately, this delicately flavored and versatile treat is available throughout the year to make a healthy and tasty addition to both sweet and savory dishes.

almondsThe almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a 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 a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E and magnesium, nature’s own calcium channel blocker. Moreover, almonds are a good source of manganese, copper, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and phosphorus. Fortunately, although one-quarter cup of almonds contains about 18 grams of fat, most of it (11 grams) is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. In addition, almonds contain potassium, another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function, and they are concentrated in protein. A quarter of a cup contains even more protein than is provided by the typical egg.

Almonds are an ancient food that have been written about in historical texts, including the Bible. Almonds were thought to have originated in regions in western Asia and North Africa. The Romans referred to almonds as the “Greek nut” suggesting that they were the first to have cultivated them.

Nowadays, Greece produces almonds in many places, but mainly in Fthiotida, Thessaly and Imathia. They are used in the preparation of “amigdalota”, almond based sweet treats which are traditionally given to engagements and marriages. They are also used to make almond pasteli, a sesame candy bar enjoyed by Greeks since ancient times.

In addition to being eaten raw, almonds are a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes from salads to baked goods. So don’t just enjoy almonds as a between-meal snack. Add a handful of lightly roasted almonds to your salad, chop and use as a topping for pasta, steamed or healthy sautéed vegetables, or just add a punch to plain yogurt by mixing in some chopped almonds and dried fruit.

MLGFB Tip:

How to make amigdalota (almond treats) like they do in the isle of Paros

Pariana-amygdalotaIngredients: 1.200g almonds bleached and ground to powder, 5 leveled tablespoons of flour, 5 tablespoons fine semolina, 450g granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence powder, 4 egg yolks, preferably organic, 5 egg whites, 2-3 tablespoons of rosewater, some icing sugar for garnish

Preparation:

  • Beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork, then, add the rosewater and the vanilla essence powder. Combine everything well.
  • Whisk the egg whites and the sugar together to a meringue.
  • Place the almonds, flour and semolina in a bowl and combine them well.
  • Add the egg yolks and the meringue and stir gently with a ladle or a spatula until they are fully incorporated.
  • Take a small amount of the mixture and mould it into an oblong shaped treat.
  • Array the almond treats onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake them at 170ºC for 20 minutes. Don’t overdo them because they will become firm.
  • Roll them over the icing sugar the moment you remove them from the oven.
  • If you wish you may drizzle them with some rosewater before they are covered in sugar.

A piece of advice: If the dough is sticky, dip your fingertips into rosewater and then mould the treats

This is a recipe of famous Greek chef Argyro Barbarigou

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