Tag Archives: almond

Spoiling Myself

Last month, I spent a few days at my parents’ house in Laredo, Texas.  It was such a treat.  My folks got to see my changing pregnant body in person and I got a little spoiled.  I got plenty of attention, and had a couple of generous escorts to shuttle me around and take me shopping.

But, besides their company, I most enjoyed the food.  Both my parents are talented in the kitchen and they always make sure I have my Texas favorites, so I ate really well.  Plus, while I love cooking, this pregnancy makes me tire easily and I try to avoid staying on my feet for too long, so having someone else not only do all the cooking, but all the clean-up, too, was like visiting a spa.

It was nice to come home and see my husband (who spoils me in different ways) and pets, and sleep in my own bed again.  (I missed you body pillow!)  However, I do miss waking up to ready-made food.  It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes I’m so hungry when I wake up I can’t think straight and trying to put breakfast together can be a lot of effort.

So, I’ve been trying to prepare some breakfast items in advance that way I don’t have to exert much energy or brain power to feed myself first thing in the morning.  And, while I can’t have my parents cook for me right now, I can enjoy their recipes.

This recipe is a hearty breakfast bread that my mom shared with me last year.  It makes wonderful toast and provides protein, fiber, and potassium – you know…good stuff.

Toasted Almond and Apricot Bread
Makes 1 loaf

7 oz dried apricots
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
3/4 cup chopped natural almonds
1 heaping cup rolled oats or 1 cup oat flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt

Coarsely chop apricots.

Heat orange juice in small saucepan until it boils.  Stir in brown sugar and apricots.  Remove from heat and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Add 1 Tbsp oil to medium frying pan and use it to brown the almonds.  Stir and toss the nuts so they toast evenly and are lightly browned.

If you don’t have oat flour, add 1 heaping cup of rolled oats to a food processor and blitz until it resembles flour.

Beat the eggs until frothy.

Mix in remaining 2 Tbsp oil and buttermilk.

Thoroughly blend the all-purpose and oat flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in toasted almonds.

Add dry mixture to egg mixture and blend well.

Stir in apricots and their juice.

Pour the batter into a well-greased 9-inch loaf pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 50 minutes or until tester comes out clean and top is lightly browned.

Let rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling.

The bread will keep several days in an airtight container, or may be frozen.  To freeze, after completely cooling, wrap the loaf in foil and store in a plastic zip-top bag for up to 6 months.

I really enjoy it toasted with butter.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Personal

Bar Stool Fridays – Healthy Cocktail Snack

I always enjoy snacks during happy hour.  And, even though I’m not consuming alcohol right now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want something to nibble while everyone is imbibing.  But, I don’t want to fill up on empty calories – I want a filling snack that tastes good and is good for me, too.

Enter the almond.

Why eat almonds?

1.  They help you lose weight.  Studies show people who eat a serving of almonds at least twice a week are less likely to gain weight.  Almonds are high in calories, though; stick to no more than 1/3 cup – a small handful – each day.  Pick whole, roasted almonds.  Sugar coated almonds are not a super food.

2.  They lower your risk of heart disease.  Almonds are high in monounsaturated “good” fats, which help lower cholesterol.  By adding almonds to a low-fat diet, you can reduce your chance of heart disease by 30 to 45%.  Choose nuts with little or no salt, which can raise blood pressure.

3.  They’re a quick source of protein.  No time to make eggs in the morning?  Here’s a fun fact: A 1/4 cup of almonds (approximately 20 – 25) provides just as much protein as a single egg, strengthening everything from your eyes to your nails.  So when you’re reaching for an afternoon almond snack, you’re not only satisfying cravings but also supporting your entire body.

4.  They help strengthen your bones.  Just one serving of almonds contains 10% of your daily recommended calcium intake, making for strong, resilient bones.  They’re also high in magnesium, which supports calcium in keeping teeth healthy.

5.  They may boost your immune system.  A recent study revealed that naturally occurring chemicals found in the skin of the nut improved the ability of white blood cells to detect viruses while also increasing the body’s ability to prevent viruses from replicating and so spreading inside the body.  They discovered that even after the almonds had been digested, there was still an increase in the immune systems defenses against viruses.

These spicy almonds are slightly addictive, so do watch your portions.  But, I think you’ll find they are just as good with cocktails as they are with ginger ale.

Spicy Almonds
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1 lb natural almonds
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake almonds 10 minutes on a baking sheet.

Combine butter, honey, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne in a large bowl.

Toss with almonds.

Return to baking sheet and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with  salt while still hot.

Let nuts cool and break apart with hands.

Store in an airtight container.

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Filed under Snacks

Presto A La Pesto

Pesto is one of those ingredients that I always try to have on hand.  By that I mean, that I make a batch every three or four weeks during the warmer months when I have access to fresh herbs.

Why?  Well, for several reasons.  First, it tastes good, especially if you make it yourself.  Second, it is ridiculously easy, even more so if you have a blender or food processor.  And, finally, pesto can punch up the flavor in a dish or help whip up an easy meal.

When I mix pesto with a bit of mayo and spread it on whole wheat bread, it makes my ordinary turkey sandwich taste like a decadent treat…

If time has gotten away from me and it is dinner time before I know it, pesto mixed in with freshly boiled and drained pasta and paired with quick grilled chicken and a bagged salad is a a meal in a flash…

Are folks coming over for drinks now?  I’ll just toast some slices of bread, spread on the pesto, and slice into triangles.  If I can top with fresh tomatoes all the better…

Lucky for me that Karen included some basil and oregano in her gift of herbs…

Basil, Oregano, and Almond Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

2 cups of fresh basil and oregano (whatever proportion you prefer)
1/3 cup unsalted almonds (raw or toasted)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a food processor or blender, add herbs and almonds.

Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the garlic and Parmesan cheese and pulse again to combine.

Slowly add olive oil in a thin stream while the processor or blender is running.  Scrape the sides and pulse again to combine.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This will keep in a sealed container in your fridge for a couple of weeks.

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Filed under Vegetarian