Let’s face it, I get to talk about food quite a bit each day; I love to learn, answer questions and explore the best options for myself and those around me. Whenever I shop I see folks peeking in my basket: ”What’s the nutritionist eating?” is the unasked question. When asked about my preferences for snacks, I always list a variety of nuts as good choices; you will typically see almonds, hazelnuts and my favorite, macadamia nuts in my cart and in this week’s column I’ll share a favorite almond flour-based recipe, Good Morning Bread, which I usually make as muffins.
Almonds are a common snack and contain a rich array nutrients with many health benefits. An ounce of almonds has many of the nutrients we need each day, including six grams of protein and carbs, 14 grams of fat, vitamins E and B2, copper, magnesium and manganese. For many folks on a gluten-free or grain-free diet, almond flour has been a great discovery, and we get a moist, flavorful result. Almonds support our health in many ways:
• Almonds reduce lipid oxidation biomarkers in older adults.
• Almonds reduce 24-hour insulin secretion in non-diabetics.
• Almonds improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetics.
• Almonds improve satiety and postprandial (post-meal) glucose balance when consumed as snacks and do not increase overall energy intake.
• Almonds possess potent prebiotic fibers, particularly in the skins.
Phytate levels are high in almonds as with most nuts. Phytate has both good and bad sides (binds minerals and prevents their absorption on one hand, and may be converted into beneficial compounds in the gut and have anti-cancer effects on the other hand), but a good compromise is to avoid a nut-heavy diet. As a reminder, almonds are best as snacks, not the main course. Soaking and/or roasting almonds can also reduce phytate levels.
Raw almonds are hard to procure. Most almonds advertised as raw on store shelves have been pasteurized. Purchasing directly from the producer/farmer can help you obtain truly raw, unpasteurized almonds. At our store we have true raw almonds (imported from Spain) as an option.
GOOD MORNING BREAD/MUFFINS
Coconut free, gluten free, grain free, legume free.
Total prep and baking time: Approx. 40 minutes
Yields: 1 pan or 12 muffins
4 tbsp butter, plus some to grease the baking dish
1/3 cup Natural Grocers Fresh Ground Almond Butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 pasture-raised eggs
3 tbsp honey
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with butter.
Cut butter into small slices and melt with almond butter over the stove on low heat. Let cool for five minutes.
In small mixing bowl, combine vanilla extract, eggs and honey. Whisk together. Add almond butter and butter mixture. Whisk some more until thoroughly combined.
In medium-size mixing bowl, mix together almond flour, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into buttered 8×8-inch baking dish.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Top should be somewhat firm to the touch but not overly firm, unless you like your bread on the dry side.
Cut into convenient, hand-held slices, slather with butter while still warm and enjoy!
Note: This recipe is courtesy of Natural Grocers and was developed and tested at 5,000 feet elevation. For lower elevations, we suggest reducing the liquid by 2-4 tablespoons per cup called for, and increasing the baking time as needed. You can line your baking dish with parchment paper, and I suggest using parchment paper muffin tin liners as well: why spend extra time cleaning pans?
Again, when we refer to almonds and other nuts, we look at these foods as snacks, even dietary supplements, not as our main course, so enjoy this recipe once in a while as a decadent treat. Salud!