Native to western Asia, the almond emigrated to the United States with the Spanish explorers who settled much of the southwest. Almonds are now comfortably and profitably grown in California, a state that produces nearly 80% of all of the almonds in the global marketplace. The almond has a distinct flavor that lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes, and the almond shares the health benefits common to tree nuts.
Almonds in particular have been spotlighted as cancer fighters. WebMD cites research that shows almonds, red wine and coffee contain significant amounts of the element boron. Boron is thought to be useful in preventing prostate cancer. Almonds are also a great source of protein, fiber, folic acid, vitamin E, and the elements magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. The latter three elements are important to bone health, and lactose-intolerant persons can benefit from adding almonds and almond milk to his or her diet.
Almonds make a nice, portable snack food. Spiced nuts are especially tasty; they contain just enough fat to make them seem indulgent, but they don't contain a lot of empty calories. The website for the American Institute for Cancer Research shares this recipe for spiced almonds.
Spicy Toasted Almonds
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp. canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
2 c. whole, unblanched almonds
Canola oil spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In large shallow bowl, combine thyme, salt, pepper and 2 tsp. oil. Set aside.
Lightly coat baking sheet with canola oil spray. Turn nuts onto sheet and spread evenly over pan. Place baking sheet in center of oven.
Toast until nuts are lightly brown and fragrant - about 8 minutes. Shake pan occasionally during toasting to prevent scorching.
Remove from oven and immediately add hot nuts to spice mixture. Stir to mix thoroughly and coat nuts evenly. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences.
Nuts can be sealed in a closed container and stored for up to two weeks. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Almonds add a crunch to this twist on chili. The recipe comes compliments of the California Almond Board.
Mexican Skillet Supper
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 c. chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can (16 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (15.25 oz) red kidney beans
1 can (7 oz) diced green chilis, or 3
-5 seeded hot peppers, chopped
1 c. whole kernal corn
1 c. whole almonds, toasted
1 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend
Brown meat with onions and garlic in large, heavy skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt. Stir in tomato sauce, bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in kidney beans, chilis or hot peppers, corn and almonds; heat through.
Spoon meat over squares of corn bread and top with shredded cheese to serve.
Friday: Cashew recipes