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Almond Flour

blanched almond flour

Why Almond Flour?

Why Almond Flour?
With several hundred gluten free almond flour recipes on elanaspantry.com, I am asked this question at least once a day. Almond flour is highly nutritious, easy to use and readily available. For those of us watching our glycemic index, almond flour is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in sugars.

Unlike other alternatives to wheat flour, almond flour is moist and delicious. After having tested just about every gluten free flour out there, I can save you a lot of time and hassle when I say that almond flour is far superior to other flours in terms of taste, nutrition and ease-of-use.

NOTE: In all of my almond flour recipes I use blanched (almonds that have had their skin removed) almond flour. I do not recommend using unblanched almond flour.

Purchasing
I avoid purchasing almond flour retail at all costs! It is more than $15 per pound in the grocery store. If you purchase it online it is generally less than half of that including shipping. Yes, still expensive, but packed with protein and flavor, so for me, worth the cost.

NOTE: One example of almond flour you will find in retail stores is Bob’s Red Mill. This product yields poor, runny results when used in my recipes; compared to other almond flours it has a very coarse texture. I do not recommend using Bob’s Red Mill almond flour in my recipes.

Storage
I store my almond flour in gallon or half-gallon glass mason jars. I keep one out in a cabinet and leave all the other ones in the freezer. Using almond flour straight out of the freezer is an exercise in clumpy frustration, which is why I leave one out. How long can one keep the almond flour before it goes bad? I keep mine refrigerated for up to 6 months, sometimes longer. Freezing seems to extend shelf life even more.

A Closer Look at the Almond

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Facts and History
The almond is a native to an area stretching from the northern Indian subcontinent westwards to Syria, Israel, and Turkey. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe and more recently transported to other parts of the world, notably California. ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond))

The almond seed (or fruit) is not a true nut, but a drupe. The almond is actually the seed of the fruit that grows on almond trees, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers. Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, the almond tree bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut. The almond is available throughout the year. Almonds are freshest during the mid-Summer season. ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond))

California is currently the only state in the US that commercially produces almonds. It produces 80% of the world’s almonds due to its Mediterranean-like climate. ((California Almond Facts (PDF)))

Health Benefits

  1. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
  2. Researchers who studied data from the Nurses Health Study estimated that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk. Researchers calculated even more impressive risk reduction–45%–when fat from nuts was substituted for saturated fats (found primarily found in meat and dairy products). ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
  3. In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds’ ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds’ monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease). ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
  4. In addition to healthy fats and vitamin E, a quarter-cup of almonds contains almost 99 mg of magnesium (that’s 24.7% of the daily value for this important mineral), plus 257 mg of potassium. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))
  5. Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))

Other potential health benefits of consuming almonds include improved complexion, improved movement of food through the colon and the prevention of cancer. ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond.))

Recent research associates the inclusion of almonds in the diet with elevating the blood levels of high density lipoproteins and of lowering the levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL). Lowering LDL-Cholesterol can reduce your risk of heart disease. ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond.))

According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition eating almonds reduced the glycemic index (GI) of the meal and subjects’ rise in blood sugar in a dose-dependent manner – the more almonds consumed, the lower the meal’s GI and the less the rise in subjects’ blood sugar after eating. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))

“It’s all the components working together,” explains Gene Spiller, Ph.D., director of the Health Research and Studies Center in Los Altos, California. “It’s the fiber, the unsaturated fats, the arginine, the plant sterols and other phytochemicals. They all work together to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.” ((http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200103/almonds-get-heart-healthy.))

Buying and Storing
Almonds that are still in their shells have the longest shelf life. If purchasing these, look for shells that are not split, moldy or stained. Shelled almonds that are stored in a hermetically sealed container will last longer than those that are sold in bulk bins since they are less exposed to heat, air and humidity. If purchasing almonds in bulk bins, make sure that the store has a quick turnover of inventory and that the bulk containers are sealed well in order to ensure maximum freshness. Look for almonds that are uniform in color and not limp or shriveled. In addition, smell the almonds. They should smell sweet and nutty; if their odor is sharp or bitter, they are rancid. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))

If you want almonds with a roasted flavor and texture, choose those that have been “dry roasted” as they are not cooked in oil like their regular roasted counterparts. Yet, even when purchasing “dry roasted” almonds, it is important to read the label to be sure that no additional ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup or preservatives have been added. Also note, It is not only much cheaper to roast your own almonds, they will taste better and fresher as well. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))

Since almonds have a high fat content, it is important to store them properly in order to protect them from becoming rancid. Store shelled almonds in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. Keeping them cold will further protect them from rancidity and prolong their freshness. Refrigerated almonds will keep for several months, while if stored in the freezer, almonds can be kept for up to a year. Shelled almond pieces will become rancid more quickly than whole shelled almonds. ((http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20.))

Consuming
To get more almonds in your diet, you might try drinking them. All natural almond milk is a dairy alternative that’s high in protein, fortified with vitamins A, D and E, a good source of calcium and 100% lactose and cholesterol free. Found in health food stores, it can be used for cooking and lactose intolerance, and it’s lower in calories than other non-dairy drinks. ((http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200103/almonds-get-heart-healthy))

Source: https://elanaspantry.com/why-almond-flour/

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Salmon with green beans and linseeds

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Ingredients
Serves: 4 

  • 500g green beans, trimmed
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 dill fronds
  • 1 tablespoon linseeds (flaxseeds)

Method
Prep:10min  ›  Cook:25min  ›  Ready in:35min 

  1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the green beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the salmon fillets, skin side down, in a nonstick frying pan over low heat for about 10 minutes. Turn over, cook for 1 minute, then turn over again to finish cooking, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the green beans onto 4 plates, and put one salmon fillet on each plate, and place a dill frond on each fillet. Sprinkle with the linseeds.

Source: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/26531/salmon-with-green-beans-and-linseeds.aspx?o_is=LV

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Oat and linseed bread

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Ingredients
Serves: 10 

  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 400g strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 60g porridge oats
  • 45g golden linseeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sachet fast acting dried yeast
  • 400ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 100ml water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method
Prep:30min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Extra time:1hr rising  ›  Ready in:2hr 

  1. Place all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Place all wet ingredients into a seperate bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix, either with a spoon or with your hands. Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough.
  4. Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for an hour to rise.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6.
  6. Knock back the dough, and form into your required shape, place on a baking tray.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, take out of the oven and turn over, put back in the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  8. To test if the loaf is ready, tap the base lightly, it should sound hollow. Leave on a rack to cool.

Tip

Freeze any leftovers or crusts in a bag to make breadcrumbs at a later date.

Source: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/23426/oat-and-linseed-bread.aspx?o_is=LV

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Superfoods

Linseeds

Golden linseeds (also known as flaxseeds) are powerhouses of nutrition. They have a subtle nutty, slightly earthy flavour and are a cheap superfood that everyone can include in their diet. They are available whole or – for easier absorbtion – split, ground or as linseed or flaxseed oil.

I particularly love the oil, as it is such a fantastic natural skin moisturiser. Drink a couple of spoonfuls a day, by either adding it to a juice or smoothie, mixing it into milk for your cereal, or making a quick salad dressing.

Linseeds are the richest plant source of omega 3 fats, which are essential for a healthy brain, heart, joints and immune system.Due to the high content of plant chemicals known as phytoestrogens, linseeds have been called nature’s answer to hormone replacement therapy. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring forms of the female hormone oestrogen and are found in certain foods. They help to either reduce high levels of oestrogens or to boost low levels. This can have a positive impact on the unpleasant effects of the menopause, such as flushing and night sweats.

There is ongoing research into the benefits of including phytoestrogens in diets aimed at preventing cancer. With a history of colon cancer in my family I am keen to keep my colon healthy. The high-fibre content of linseeds can help.

A good way to get the best from them is to soak them first. Put one heaped desertspoonful of seeds into a glass, cover with water and leave overnight. Add the swollen seeds and water to a drink such as fruit juice or a smoothie, or to your cereal or yogurt, or drink it on its own. You can eat linseeds in this way every day. They are a good cure for constipation, but avoid eating the seeds if you have bowel problems, such as diverticulitis.

Alternatively, you can grind linseeds in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder before adding them to food. Never cook with linseeds or their oil – as the heat will render them unstable. To keep them fresh, store airtight in the fridge.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/mar/06/healthandwellbeing.health1

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Easter fruit cupcakes

Ultimate Ginger Cookie

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Total Time:35 min
Prep:20 min
Inactive:2 min
Cook:13 min
Yield:16 cookies
Level:Easy

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Directions
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 3/4-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/ultimate-ginger-cookie-recipe.html?oc=linkback

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Health Benefits of Crystallized Ginger

Health Benefits of Crystallized Ginger

Ginger, with its spicy, warm aroma and taste, is most frequently associated with South East Asian cuisines, although it is now more widely consumed than ever. Rich in a number of essential nutrients, ginger also has several health benefits, especially for your digestive system. Crystallized ginger, also known as candied ginger, is made by boiling ginger in a simple syrup and then letting the candy dry out. While the health benefits of ginger are preserved, the sugar content is greatly increased. Pay attention to your consumption of candied ginger to avoid getting too much sugar.

Treating Motion Sickness

If you get motion sickness, eating crystallized ginger, or eating some ginger chews can help alleviate the symptoms. Ginger naturally helps prevent nausea, especially when it results from dizziness or motion sickness. If you have motion sickness regularly, try one or two small to medium-sized pieces of crystallized ginger before or during travel.

Treating Morning Sickness

In addition to nausea from motion sickness, crystallized ginger can also help with nausea and upset stomachs resulting from morning sickness. Morning sickness is no fun to deal with, and the same amount of ginger per day, one to two small to medium-sized pieces, may help reduce the vomiting or nausea that comes with pregnancy. If you have extreme morning sickness, or experience it over a prolonged period of time, speak with a medical professional as there may be other factors at play.

Helping with Muscle Pain and Inflammation

Consuming ginger every day or on a regular basis can help reduce muscle pain from exercise related effort or injury. In a 2010 study published in the “Journal of Pain,” ginger was shown to help relieve some muscle pain due to exercise. A daily dose of 2 grams of ginger reduced pain and inflammation due to exercising. Ginger can also help reduce inflammation of the joints, which may be helpful also in treating conditions such as arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Alternative Medicine

For over 5,000 years, ginger has been prized and used for its “warming” properties. In Asian medical practice, historically and in the current-day, ginger is used to treat a number of conditions, from arthritis and migraines, to sore throats. It is also used as a general health tonic, thought to help reduce overall body fat and improve circulation. In Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical practice of India, ginger has been used in the treatment of anorexia and cholera.

Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/473420-crystallized-ginger-health-benefits/

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