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The World of Almonds

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Before you get cooking, let’s start with the basics. In a nutshell, almonds in any form are a natural source of magnesium, potassium, and protein. Magnesium helps regulate the digestive system and maintain healthy bones, while potassium keeps the heart and nervous system properly maintained. Almonds have been linked to healthier skin, appear to lower blood sugar levels, and may possibly play a role in cancer prevention as well. The protein in almonds makes them a naturally low-carb way to bulk up recipes without bulking up your waistline, and 3.5 grams of fiber per ounce of almonds adds as much fiber to your diet as a banana. Below, you’ll find everything you ever needed to know about the health, nutrition and flavor benefits of almond flour, butter, and milk.

Almond Flour :

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 You’re likely expecting this section to start with some sort of healthy statistic, right? No way. The primary reason (in my mind, anyway) for adding almond flour to your meals isn’t because it can help lower your cholesterol (though studies have shown a connection) or because swapping carbs for almond products has shown a 30 percent reduction in heart disease in many patients (though it has). Rather, the primary reason to start using almond flour in your cooking is because it makes foods especially baked foods absolutely scrumptious.

The natural oils in almond flour lend remarkable moistness to baked goods like muffins, cakes, and waffles. Expect a slightly denser final product with a kiss of natural almond flavor and a remarkable amount of tender texture without adding more butter to the mix.

 Cooking and baking with almond flour is win-win in every way. It can lessen the amount of processed foods in your diet, drop carb intake without sacrifice, and work beautifully in recipes. It can be used as basic flour, it can take the place of carb-heavy bread crumbs, and it can be sprinkled over cobblers to create a completely natural, flavorful crust. Almond flour is surprisingly versatile; it can be used in everything from breakfasts to dinners. It’s good raw or cooked, served hot or cold. That’s something traditional wheat flour can’t say for itself.

Almond Butter :

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 Almond butter first hit store shelves as a replacement for peanut butter, but its versatility, nutritional benefits, and incredible flavor have turned basic almond butter into a mighty market for health lovers and gourmands alike. Easy to swap into recipes that call for peanut butter, almond butter offers a mildly sweet, natural flavor and bakes beautifully into desserts. It’s also an incredible base for pasta and noodle sauces.

Almond butter is also good for you. Peanuts are actually considered a legume, so peanut butter contains a high percentage of lectin, which may contribute to stripping away the mucous membrane of the small intestine, and potentially increasing susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. Almond butter, as part of general almond consumption, has been linked to a lowered risk of heart disease and has high levels of the antioxidant vitamin E, which has been linked to lowered rates of cell damage. 

When comparing almond butter to peanut butter, there are other nutritional benefits, as well. Almond butter is higher in magnesium and iron, both vital minerals that contribute to the wellbeing of nervous function and healthy skin and tissue. 

Some paleo eaters may be concerned about the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in almonds, because almonds are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6s. If this ratio is of concern to you, keep in mind that raw almonds, when enjoyed in recommended serving-size amounts, offer tremendous benefits without inciting a high amount of inflammation. When consumed in excess, or used as a primary source of protein, almond butter and other whole-nut almond products may increase inflammation, but in moderate amounts, the benefits of the nuts themselves far exceed any harm from the omega-6s. Almond butter is a wonderful addition to any healthy eating plan and an especially good substitute for those with peanut allergies.

Almond Milk :

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If you’re trying to avoid dairy and soy’s not your first choice, almond milk is a great alternative. There are a variety of companies, flavors, and ways to store almond milk, and it easily substitutes for cow’s milk in most recipes. 

There are dozens of reasons almond milk is worth adding to your diet. The first is that the light, nutty, crisp flavor is almost immediately palatable. Many milk substitutes take some getting used to, but almond milk offers a similar consistency to milk and tastes great in all the same places over cereal, in a cup of coffee, or served ice cold in a glass with a straw.

Like other almond products, almond milk will boost your intake of magnesium, potassium, and antioxidant vitamin E. It’s also lower in calories than cow’s milk, and many commercial almond milks are fortified with calcium, too.

 Many varieties of store-bought almond milk are shelf-stable, requiring no refrigeration until open and ready for storage, so it’s easy to keep stocked in the pantry. Of course, when making almond milk at home, always store it in the fridge to extend its shelf life. 

Perhaps one of the best things about almond milk is how compatible it is with nearly every type of diet. Vegan, vegetarian, peanut-free, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and paleo eaters can all enjoy almond milk. It has all the creamy goodness of milk, without all of the adverse reactions some bodies experience when consuming dairy.

Tips and Tricks :

How do you store almond butter? How long can almond milk last on the shelf? How much almond flour can you substitute in regular recipes? This section will share all the details for making the most of your almond ingredients.

 Almond Flour 

Blanched almond flour is technically a raw product and therefore requires special treatment to extend its shelf life, protect its nutrients, and keep it from going rancid. Almond flour is different from almond meal. Blanched almond flour is made by boiling or steaming the skins off almonds, then grinding them into fine particles. Almond meal is usually ground from almonds with the skins still on and tends to have a texture closer to cornmeal. For most of the recipes, you’ll want to use a finely ground almond flour, rather than almond meal.

 Storing Almond flour will go rancid more quickly than glutinous flours, so it’s not recommended that you keep it on the shelf. Store almond flour in airtight bags or mason jars, and it will keep in the fridge for up to six months and in the freezer for up to a year. If you freeze your almond flour, it will need to be brought to room temperature before using it in recipes. 

Shelf Life 3–6 months if stored in the fridge  year if stored in the freezer

 Pantry Tips

 Buy in bulk for the best price, but immediately portion out your almond flour. Store in half-gallon or gallon-size mason jars. Keep one in the fridge for cooking and the rest in the freezer. 

Almond Milk 

Almond milk doesn’t have the same storage requirements as cow’s milk, but there are some tips for extending the shelf life of your almond milk, keeping it safe, and keeping it fresh. Homemade almond milk has different requirements from store-bought, refrigerated almond milk brands. However, a few basic practices will keep any almond milk fresher longer.

Storing 

Store unopened almond milk based on the recommendations of the manufacturer. Some products are shelf-stable, others require refrigeration. When storing unopened, shelf-stable almond milk, keep it in a cool, dry location for best results. Extreme heat can adversely affect the texture of the product.

Opened almond milk should always be stored covered in the refrigerator. Store-bought brands will print an expiration date on the top of the carton; shelf-stable brands will typically encourage you to consume the milk within 7 days of opening.

Homemade almond milk should always be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It may separate once stored, so give it a nice shake before opening. Because there are no additives or preservatives, homemade almond milk won’t last as long as store-bought brands.

Shelf Life 

Unopened, shelf-stable almond milk can typically be stored in a cool, dry location for up to 6 months. Check the packaging to ensure the safe storage date.

 Opened, most store-bought almond milks will stay fresh for about 7 days under refrigeration and possibly longer, but always check the smell, taste, and texture of the milk before consuming or cooking. 

Homemade almond milk should be stored covered in the fridge, and consumed in 3–5 days.

Almond Butter 

Most store-bought almond butters can be stored on the shelf once opened, making them a great addition to any pantry. Here are a few important considerations for keeping your almond butter fresh, smooth, and delicious for many weeks or even months after opening. 

Storing 

Store unopened almond butter in a cool, dry cupboard or pantry. Many almond butter brands will have some separation of oil and nut meat, but heat will increase that separation. Heat can also speed up the aging process and make your almond butter go rancid before you’ve had time to use it. This is especially true of raw almond butter, so proper storage isn’t just good for you—it’s good for your almond butter. 

No-stir brands are especially fit for shelf storage; they’ll be soft and easily spreadable the moment you want to spoon into them. Storing almond butter in the fridge will extend the shelf life; however, the cool temperatures significantly thicken the texture and make it hard to spoon into or spread.

 Shelf Life

 Once opened, use almond butter before the expiration date to ensure freshness. Homemade nut butters should be tightly covered and can be stored in a cool, dry location for –2 weeks and in the fridge for up to 3 months. Almond butters— especially raw ones—can go rancid, so always smell the product before use. Rancid nut butter will give off an unsavory smell and should be discarded.

Pantry Tips 

Wipe the rim of your almond butter jar clean after each use to ensure a tight seal for storage.

 Use a clean knife every time you scoop into your almond butter. This keeps it from becoming contaminated with other ingredients.

 For almond butters that require stirring, here’s a fun trick: the first time you open the jar, use a knife to stir the oil into the nut meat. Replace the lid and store the jar upside down in the fridge for maximum freshness and less separation. It should not be stored in the freezer.

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