Almonds Are Not Just for Snacking

PHOTO: COLLEEN SIDECK, RDN, LDN

Providing vitamin E and magnesium and boasting the highest protein content per ounce of any nut, almonds deserve to be celebrated!  Tomorrow, on National Almond Day, heart-healthy almonds are recognized for their versatility. Perhaps most often, these nuts are simply enjoyed whole as part of a between-meal snack due to their satiating fiber, protein and monounsaturated fats. But don’t discount their use in the kitchen, as almonds have a vast variety of culinary uses.

The Versatility of Almonds

Some of the many ways these nuts can be used in your cooking include:

  • Sliced and chopped to add a satisfying crunch to salads, cereal, yogurt and even entrees, or to add texture to baked goods
  • As a savory element in vegetarian bean burgers or to add a crispy crust to chicken tenders or fish
  • Slivered and tossed into rice pilafs, stuffing, roasted vegetables or stuffed peppers
  • Transformed in a food processor into a summery pesto or smoky Romesco sauce
  • Added by the spoonful as a healthy fat and protein in smoothies, or to bring creaminess to quick breads, muffins, cookies and homemade energy bars

Almonds provide 165 calories per 1-ounce serving, about 23 nuts, although recent research suggests that the number of calories absorbed by the body when consuming processed whole almonds may be up to 25 percent lower than originally believed. While almonds easily can be incorporated into many meals and snacks, be mindful of portion control because of their calorie density.

Are you ready to give cooking with almonds a try? These plant-based Mini Lentil-Almond Loaves have been a hit at several of my family gatherings, coveted by vegans and omnivores alike.  


Mini Lentil-Almond Loaves

Serves 16

Ingredients

Lentil-Almond Loaves:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrots
  • ½ cup roughly chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup roasted almonds
  • 4 cups lentils, slightly overcooked and mashed
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • ⅔ cup oat flour

Balsamic Glaze:

  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon 100% juice cranberry blend
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a food processor, combine chopped carrots and onions and pulse until minced.
  3. To a skillet on medium heat, add carrot and onion mixture, minced garlic and olive oil. Sauté until soft and fragrant.
  4. While carrot and onion mixture is cooking, pulse roasted almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add sautéed carrot and onion mixture, mashed lentils, liquid aminos or soy sauce, sage and oat flour to the large mixing bowl with the almonds. Stir well to mix.
  6. Spoon mixture into muffin tins coated in cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. This should make 16 portions. In a separate small bowl, stir together ketchup, cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup to make the glaze. Spread a spoonful of glaze on top of each mini loaf.
  7. Bake for one hour, until firm and browned. Gently remove from muffin tin and serve at your next dinner party alongside your favorite sides.
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Colleen Sideck, RDN, LDN
Colleen Sideck, RDN, LDN, is a clinical dietitian near Washington, D.C., and is pursuing a master's degree in public health communications and marketing. Read her blog, Colleen in the Kitchen, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.