“Behold, the almighty almond – though they be but small, they are fierce.”
It’s small and unpresuming. It’s versatile, it’s resilient and its powers are far-reaching. It’s the beloved nut-like seed, the almond. Regardless of the type of diet you enjoy in your daily life, whether you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan or somewhere else on the dietary map, we’re pretty sure you still enjoy the benefits of almonds.
Almonds in Your Kitchen
Sure, almonds are tasty snacks, salted, covered in cocoa powder, cinnamon or wasabi, plain or tossed with vanilla sugar. The flavor possibilities for coating almonds, along with their high fat, fiber and protein content, have made them an increasingly popular snack. In addition to their ability to stave off hunger, thanks to all that fat, fiber and protein, almonds contain significant amounts of magnesium, manganese and Vitamin E. In addition to being eaten by the handful, almonds have assumed other significant roles in the modern kitchen. They’re a popular ingredient in granola bars and fruit and nut bars, such as Larabar and RXBars, as well as homemade snack bars and treats. Try almond butter and chia jam bars with chocolate for an unusual, healthy vegan treat.
Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the last decade, you’ve heard of almond milk; Silk and Almond Breeze are probably the best-known brands. Sweetened or unsweetened, almond milk has become a popular milk substitute for people with dairy sensitivities, lactose intolerance or who want to avoid dairy for other ethical or dietary reasons. It has popped up at coffee shops and smoothie bars from coast to coast.
Almond butter is a delicious alternative to peanut butter. Available smooth or crunchy and in a variety of flavors and price points, almond butter is delicious when spread on apples or celery sticks, on toast and in a “AB&J” sandwich. Stir it into morning oatmeal or blend into a smoothie. It’s even available in on-the-go squeeze packs for a quick boost post workout and you can make your own at home easily. Almond butter has more vitamins, minerals and fiber; peanut butter wins the protein contest.
Almonds are also used to make vegan cheese substitutes, including a parmesan-style “grated cheese” and a spreadable cheese.
For those with gluten sensitivities or who are trying to live a paleo lifestyle, almond flour is a great gluten-free, lower carb option. Available primarily at organic markets such as Whole Foods and Fresh Market, almond flour has a consistency more like cornmeal than traditional white flour. Although it is good for muffins, quick breads and pancakes, it’s not recommended for any dough that requires needing. It must be stored in the refrigerator.
Almond oil, which we will discuss more in the skin care section, is thought to help reduce cholesterol, promote healthy weight and reduce the risk for heart disease. It can be taken by the spoonful, mixed into protein drinks or smoothies or drizzled on salads and cooked veggies. Almond oil can be used in cooking, but only if it is refined.
Almonds in Beauty Products and Skin Care
The almond oil that’s great for your insides may be even better for your outsides! Applied topically, sweet almond oil is said to help reduce scarring over time, heal sunburns, make hair soft and shiny, reduce dark circles, fight signs of aging, heal chapped lips and treat dandruff and scalp inflammation. That’s a lot of power from a little seed!
Because it is neutral in fragrance, sweet almond oil is often used as a carrier oil for essential oils. For example, a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed into almond oil becomes a relaxing massage oil. Tea tree oil becomes safe for fighting skin irritations when mixed with almond oil.
If you make your own almond milk, you will be left with almond pulp. Don’t toss it! Refrigerate or freeze it and turn it into an exfoliating scrub. You can use the pulp just with water or your favorite cleanser or mix it with almond or coconut oil and essential oil for a mask that’s soothing or invigorating as desired. It’s best for normal to dry skin.
If you’re not into DYI beauty products, almond oil is integrated into a number of products you can grab from a variety of stores. From Neutrogena to Burt’s Bees to Lush, beauty companies have tapped into the power of the almond for body lotions, lip balms and butters, hand cream, shower oil, body wash, soaps, hair treatments, shampoos and more, at every imaginable price point. You can find almond oil products at mass market retailers like Target, at Amazon and at high-end specialty stores.
No matter how you like your almonds, they’re good for you! Enjoy them every way you can and benefit your body from head to toe.