Conscious Eating: By Nazia Hussain
Hi there and welcome to my first column in PS Magazine. I said that I would be reviewing an ingredient each month and where else can I start, other than with the letter ’A’.
They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend! Well in the gluten free baking world, Almonds are my best friend. I love using Almonds in my cooking, for savoury dishes, sweet dishes, cakes, cookies, grilled fish or just simply as a topping to add that something special to a dish. Almonds are so versatile. I buy them wholesale or from Indian stores as I use them so frequently, and supermarkets charge an arm and a leg for them here in the UK.
The Life of an Almond
According to the website www.almondsarein.com, the life of an almond spans about a year. Mid-autumn the bud of the almond starts to develop around the edges. A few months later by mid-December, bees start to pollinate the plant, as pollen grains are present by then. Within a few weeks the bud grows rapidly and by February the first almond trees blossom from their buds.
Once this has happened, the petals will drop and the fruit of the almond will appear. At first, they will appear in a grey/green fuzzy colour. By mid-July the hull of the almond will harden and will split open. Exactly a year on from the bud starting to develop, the shell will be exposed which will allow the nut to dry. The end of the growth cycle is when the whole almond nut and stem separate and the hull opens up completely. If stored in the appropriate conditions, almonds will keep for three years.
Interesting Almond Facts: Did you know that, 1 oz of almonds provides 6 grams of protein which is almost as much as 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or, 1 oz of cheddar cheese, or 1 large whole egg or, 1 cup of skimmed milk? Almonds provide 7.4 mg of vitamin E which is at least 7 mg more than 3.5 oz lean ground beef or, 4.4 mg more than 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and finally almonds are considered the best whole food source of vitamin E:
- More magnesium than oatmeal or even spinach?
- As much calcium as ¼ cup of milk?
- 2mg of iron which is
- Double to that of an egg
- Ten times more than a cup of skimmed milk
- A third more than 3.5 oz white meat chicken
(Source: Pennington, J. A. T. Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, Sixteenth Edition, 1994, www.almondsarein.com).
Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Orange Brownies
- 600g Plain chocolate (broken into small pieces)
- 6 eggs separated
- 200g ground almonds
- Grated rind of one orange
- Switch the oven on to 160C.
- Layer a large tin with baking paper. I use a 32.5cm x 23 cm rectangular tin.
- Melt the chocolate in a large bowl (either over a pan of hot water) or my preferred method is in the microwave, for 2 minutes. Please ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn but has melted thoroughly!
- Add the almonds and grated orange rind to the chocolate and mix well.
- Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, ensuring that the yolks are all mixed in thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they have formed stiff peaks.
- Gently fold in the egg whites with the chocolate mixture and pour into the tin.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.
- Allow the brownie to cool thoroughly before dismantling and cutting into squares/rectangles.
If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org