All Hail The Almond!
Squarely in the “Nuts” category of nuts and berries, almonds give us magnesium for our brains and bones, calcium for our bones and muscles, and vitamin E and compounds called phytochemicals, which may help protect against cardiovascular disease and even cancer!
Now if there’s one thing that you eat a lot of on the Paleo Diet when you’re first starting out, it’s Almonds. Almond milk, almond meal, almond flour, or even just almonds themselves – because they are delicious, light in flavor, packed with protein, and flexible enough to lend themselves in a myriad of ways to recipes.
One of the quickest ways to fail at Paleo eating is to not become friendly and familiar with the raw almond and just how easy it is to make your own almond products, and instead get sideswiped by the old way of thinking and drive yourself half-crazy trying to find almond flour at a decent price at the grocery store.
Please let me save you that time: it can’t be done. The closest you’ll come is Trader Joe’s Almond Meal at $4/lb. Instead, it makes much more sense to pick up almonds at a wholesale vendor like Costco (where they currently cost about $9 for 3 lbs worth of the raw nut) or some other reputable vendor near you.
Recipes for A Versatile Nut!
With raw almonds you can make: almond butter, almond meal, almond flour, and almond milk. Each of these are used for different purposes within cooking and baking. Ain’t food science grand? 🙂
This is just like peanut butter, but made of almonds. It can be used inside recipes (like Thai recipes for example, or cookies!) and is extremely simple to make.
To Make Almond Butter: Simply put almonds inside a Cuisinart Food Processor with a rotary blade and let it do its work for 8-10 minutes!
Almond Meal is nothing more than coarsely ground up almonds. It doesn’t matter if they’re blanched or not.
To Make Almond Meal: The procedure is just like if you were making almond butter, but you don’t let the food processor go for 8-10 minutes. That’s too long! Only let it go for maybe 2 minutes. You want the almonds crushed into powdery meal.
Almond Flour is just like almond meal, only it’s finely ground, and it’s preferable if your almonds have been blanched.
To Make Almond Flour: Make Almond Meal – then take a sifter and sift out the chunks. The powder you’re left with is almond flour.
The chunks you’re left with after making Almond Flour are great for making Almond Milk. Put those chunks in a container with other almonds you are going to use for the milk.
While there are plenty of almond milks for sale nowadays at the grocery store, most of them contain cane juice, which is just another way of saying “sugar” – and for anyone on the Paleo Diet, that’s no good.
This recipe is slightly more involved and yields about 5 cups of delicious almond milk. It can be used any way that you would use regular milk, and was found here .
1.5 cups whole blanched almonds or other whole raw almonds
4 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- Cover the almonds with water, and soak them for at least 4 hours, or overnight.This softens them and makes them much easier to blend.
- Strain the water from the almonds, and place the soaked almonds in your blender. Add 1.5 cups of water. We blend them with less water in the beginning, so they become a really smooth paste.
- Blend the almonds and water for 1-2 minutes. If your blender is weak like mine, you’ll probably need to stop a few times and move things around with a spatula. Do not be alarmed that your almond milk starts out looking like chunky baby food. This is all part of the plan.
- Add the cinnamon and maple syrup or honey.
- And add the remaining 2.5 cups of water. Blend everything together for another 2-3 minutes, until it is completely smooth and frothy.
- Taste the milk, and adjust the vanilla, cinnamon, and sweetener to taste. You might also find that a pinch of salt brings out the other flavors in the milk.
- Strain the almond milk through cheesecloth and into a collection vessel.
- Dry out the remaining contents of the cheesecloth in a very low oven and use it in place of almond flour in sweet baking recipes!