Energetics of Almonds: More Than A Nut

Ever been to a wedding and people shower the bride and groom with bird seed or other harmless projectiles?  This came from ancient times when the Romans considered almonds, rice, and other seeds to be a sign of fertility, happiness, and romance.  Therefore throwing them over the bride and groom was a representation of the prosperity, fertility and best wished for the new couple!

 

Almond Varieties

Almonds are believed to have originated in the regions of western Asia and North Africa. The almond that we call a nut is actually the seed of the almond tree, a tree that bears bright pink and white flowers.  Like its cousins the peach, the almond tree bears fruits with the stone like seeds or pits within.  There are two main categories of almonds, sweet and bitter.

Sweet Almonds

Sweet almonds are the edible variety. They are oval in shape and have a buttery taste.  You can find these almonds in or out of their shell.

Jordan: This Mediterranean almond is an import from Spain.  It has a semi-hard shell and a rich, sweet flavor.  This is the most popular variety of almonds.

Nonpareil: A variety produced in California that has a paper thin shell.

Bitter Almonds

These almonds are used mostly in the manufacturing of almond oil and as a flavoring agent for foods and liqueur.  They are otherwise inedible, as they naturally contain toxic substances, such as hydrocyanic acid.  These toxic compounds are removed during the manufacturing process.

Green Almonds

This is the green, furry fruit that surrounds the almond. When mature almonds are harvested the fruit portion is discarded. Yet, when they are young and green, they can be eaten whole. They have are crunchy and have a slight unripe peach flavor. At this stage the almond nut has not hardened, white in color and is soft and jelly-like.

Almond in the shell are the freshest fall to winter and packaged or raw almonds are available all year round.

How to Choose and Store Almonds

When buying shelled almonds look for ones where the shell is intact, there should be no splits or signs of mold. When buying unshelled almonds, make sure that they are uniform in color and are not shriveled up.  They should smell slightly sweet and nutty, if they smell sharp or bitter then they have gone rancid.

If you are looking to buy roasted almonds look for “dry roasted” as they will not have been cooked in oil. Most commercial roasted almonds are actually deep fried and deep frying has been linked to high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and the thickening of artery walls. If you are worried about the roasting process in store bought almonds, you can always roast them yourself at home.

To roast them at home yourself:

2 Cups Almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 160-170°F
  2. Place one layer of almonds on a cookie sheet
  3. Roast for 15-20 mins
  4. To enhance the “roasted” flavor you can mist the almonds in liquid aminos or tamari/soy sauce

Almonds that are still in their shell have the longest shelf life, especially when stored in a hermetically sealed bin versus open-air bulk bins. Store almonds in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dry place away from moisture or sunlight. Keeping them cold will further prolong their freshness. If stored properly almonds will last up to 6 months in the fridge or 1 year in the freezer.  ‘

Nutrition

Almonds are heart healthy, in that they are high in monosaturated fats and vitamin E.  Both of these nutrients are known for lowering levels of LDL and stop LDL oxidization, a process linked to atherosclerosis. Research has shown that almonds benefit those trying to lose weight (A low-calorie diet with almonds versus low-calorie diet with complex carbohydrates).  Almonds also include bone-building magnesium, manganese, copper, and phosphorus; energy-producing vitamin B12 and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Energetics

Almonds are slightly warming and have a sweet flavor. They relieve stagnant qi of the lungs, transforms phlegm, alleviates coughing, and lubricates the intestines. Used in the treatment of lungs conditions and fluid-dryness types of constipation.

Caution: Almonds can exacerbate phlegm and sputum if the person has damp signs, such as sluggishness, thick, greasy tongue coating, and edema.

Lentil Almond Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown or French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup finely chopped carrot
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in lentils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until very tender and beginning to break down, about 25 minutes for brown lentils or 30 minutes for green lentils. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot, shallots, and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add almonds, thyme, salt, and pepper; continue cooking until the almonds are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor; add 1 cup of the cooked lentils. Pulse several times, scraping down the sides once or twice, until the mixture is coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the remaining lentils. Let cool for 10 minutes. Mix in egg yolk and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Form the lentil mixture into 5 patties. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn gently and continue to cook until lightly browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Source