“Why are almonds so good for you?”, I hear you ask. Well, almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts you can eat, brimming with benefits for your health, skin and heart. I know, I know… 20 almonds doesn’t look much, but they fill a gap in no time and provide vitamins and minerals for energy and give your weight-loss efforts a boost too.
“Oh, come on. How can they help with weight loss”?
Because the monounsaturated fats in almonds moderate the rise in blood sugar after eating, resulting in a reduction of the amount of fat-storing insulin being released into your bloodstream. Without wanting to get too scientific, almonds contain high levels of thermogenic protein, including tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, which helps relax you and reduce the risk of stress-induced eating.
Almonds are also one of the richest sources of vitamin E, which according to recent research protects us against UV light damage along with more serious conditions like Alzheimers. By munching away on almonds you can also top up your levels of a number of important minerals: Manganese, which helps the body form strong bones; Magnesium, which is essential for organ, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and regulating blood pressure. Eating one ounce of almonds will give you 45% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin E – cashews, on the other hand, only have 2%! And finally, one almond has about six times more Calcium than a cashew!
If you are watching your heart health, you have diabetes, or you are prone to high cholesterol, put almonds on your list of go-to snacks, for they contain almost zero sodium and only 3.9 grams of sugars (per 100 grams). As a comparison, the total saturated fat of cashews is not only higher, but these nuts are high in sodium with 12 mg and they contain 6 grams of sugars (per 100 grams).
For freshness, almonds are a safer bet than walnuts and hazelnuts: less prone to rancidity, so more tolerant of languishing forgotten at the back of the cupboard.
When it comes to snacking, 20g at one time is the recommended portion. No more than twice per day. It amounts to pretty much 20 almonds (just weighed it out… such a saddo)
Almonds are a delight to cook too. We particularly love this recipe, featured in The Guardian, from a book by award winning cookbook author Julie Sahni.
Aromatic Chicken with Almonds (Serves 4)
- 6-8 chicken thighs depending on size, skin removed
- 1-2 lemon, juiced
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 3 tbsp flavourless oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 4cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 black or 8 green cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 250g tomato passata
- 120g ground almonds
- A small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
- 80g flaked almonds, toasted
- Prick the chicken thighs all over with a fork, and rub with the lemon juice and salt. Leave it to sit for at least half an hour – if possible overnight.
- Fry the onions in 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan with a pinch of salt on a medium heat, until they are light brown (about 15 minutes), stirring regularly.
- Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring all the time. Then add the ground spices and toast for several minutes. Add the whole spices and brown for 2 minutes, then add the tomato passata, ground almonds and 250ml hot water. Bring to the boil.
- In a large frying pan quickly fry the chicken in oil until it has a little colour. Add to the sauce. Simmer very gently for about an hour until the chicken is very tender; preferably in a low oven. Stir occasionally to stop it sticking, adding a little hot water if necessary.
- Once the chicken is tender, leave to sit for a good half hour before serving. Scatter with the chopped coriander and toasted flaked almonds to serve.
Thank you for reading. Annie x