We've all heard of peanut butter, kids love it and it can be used in so many recipes, but have you heard of Almond butter? It appears that almond butter is the new peanut butter and is far more delicious, according to ‘nut butter' eaters.
The almond tree is a beautiful medium sized tree with fragrant white and pink flowers, its fruits are stone like seeds. This seed is what is referred to as the almond nut, it's an off white color with a thin brown skin, encased in a hard outer shell, and the almond nut can be either a sweet almond or a bitter almond.
Sweet almonds which are oval in shape, are the ones that are usually eaten, they have a wonderful buttery taste. On the other hand, bitter almonds are inedible and are basically used in the production of almond oil, which is used as a flavoring agent in some foods, as well as being added to liqueurs such as Amaretto. Bitter almonds contain toxins, one such toxin is hydrocyanic acid, though this compound is actually removed in the manufacturing process of the almond oil.
A Brief History of the Almond
Although almonds are an ancient food, they are thought to have originated in North Africa and Western Asia, and now grown in many Mediterranean countries. The almond tree found its way to New England in 1840 but because the climate didn't suit its cultivation, they were taken to California where they thrived and still do to this day.
Nutritional Value of Almonds
Almonds are one of the most nutrient-dense nuts. Not only do they contain an array of powerful flavonoids but they are also a good source of manganese, biotin, vitamin E and copper, as well as magnesium, riboflavin and phosphorus. They are low in saturated fats and high in mono unsaturated fats, and are an ideal source of protein.
What is Almond Butter?
Almonds are (well, obviously!) the main ingredient in almond butter. It is a paste that is made by grinding almonds, either with just a little salt and honey or on their own. It can be either smooth or crunchy roasted or raw, depending on the almonds used, it’s creamy, filling and delicious butter that makes a great healthy addition to any snack.
Buying almond butter from the local store or supermarket may seem the easy option but store bought almond butters usually have extra ingredients added, such as salts, sugars and oils, to promote a longer shelf life or enhance the look and taste of the product. Mono and Dyglicerides are used more often than not to bind ingredients such as water and oil, together. Unfortunately, these additives do nothing for our health so store bought almond butter becomes a less healthy option than homemade.
Health Benefits of Almond Butter
We're often told that nuts are fattening, and almonds are no exception, they do contain a high amount of fat per individual serving but it's mainly Unsaturated Fat, which is a healthier fat. Unsaturated fats are the primary source of the recommended 25 to 35 percent of our daily calorie intake, one tablespoon of almond butter contains 100 calories, so although almond butter is calorie-dense, it doesn’t seem to contribute to weight gain, this could be due to the fact that eating almonds increases a feeling of fullness and as some of the calories from the almonds don't get absorbed by the body, it cannot be stored as extra weight.
You could be improving your overall nutrition if you include almonds or almond butter in your diet because Almond butter is an ideal source of protein which is crucial for tissue repair and regeneration and combined with their phytosterols and other nutrients, almonds and almond butter can help to reduce low density cholesterol in the blood, otherwise known as bad cholesterol. Another reason to include almonds or almond butter in your diet is that the antioxidants in the almonds are known to decrease rises in blood sugar levels after a meal and mop up small amounts of free radicals in your system.
....Other Health Benefits
Some of the health benefits of almond butter comes from the Copper and Calcium it contains. Both of these minerals play a vital role in keeping the nervous system functioning and also the communication of brain cells. Copper is essential to make melanin, the pigment that helps to protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Calcium is needed to keep bones strong and to aid the functioning of muscles.
The Fat and Fiber content of almond butter can be beneficial to the cardiovascular system as the fats can improve cholesterol levels in the blood and the fiber can help to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by up to one third.
Vitamin E and Magnesium are also present in almond butter. Vitamin E prevents blood lipid oxidation, linked to cardiovascular disease, as well as supporting healthy communication between the body's cells. Magnesium is needed by the body to help produce energy and synthesize the fatty acids needed for that energy, its other use is to help keep the bones healthy.
Uses for Almond Butter
Almond butter has a wonderful taste all of its own but if you want to enhance the taste, you can add other foods and natural ingredients to it for variation.
- Try it as a pancake topper or use in choc chip cookies.
- Eat almond butter with crackers, fruits, or your favorite veg.
- Spoon on top of frozen yogurt or a frozen desert.
- Spread on top of waffles with some delicious whipped cream.
- Mixing in organic cocoa powder or pure honey can result in a very nice almond-chocolate spread that doesn't contain any chemicals, making it a healthier choice than the store bought jars.
- If you want to make your smoothie more of a tonic drink and give yourself an early morning energy boost, try making it with almond butter as well as your favorite fruit.
In fact, there are no end of ways to eat almond butter.
How to Make Almond Butter?
Its relatively easy to make almond butter, you can make it with whole dry-roasted almonds or, unsalted almonds, you can of course, use salted almonds if you prefer but it may result in a saltier taste. Some people like to throw in a handful of honey-roasted roasted peanuts, which gives a honey roast flavor, and some like to add just raw natural honey. The choice is yours!
Home-made almond butter has a short shelf life, that's because there are no hidden preservatives and additives lurking in it, like the shop bought variety, so make sure you store it in a cool place or in the refrigerator and try to use it up within a week. It would be a good idea to make the butter in smaller portions so that it gets used up fairly quickly, that way there is no waste.
Almond butter can be made in a food processor or your best blender and it should take up to 12 minutes to get a smooth butter, and any less will result in either a crumbly butter or a thick and chunky sort of butter, depending on how long you have mixed it. It's really down to personal choice as to how you like to eat your almond butter.
For Those Who Suffer From Nut Allergies
Almonds are a type of tree nut and as nuts cause allergies in some people, even a small amount can trigger a reaction. If you are allergic to nuts or suspect that you might be, it’s wise to get checked out by a doctor before embarking on making your own almond butter and including it in your diet.
.....Will You Be A 'Nut Butter’ Eater From Now On?
All in all, almond butter is fast become the healthier option when it comes to nut butters, Peanut butter used to be seen as the perfect nutritional spread but almonds have the edge on peanuts because of their delicious creamy taste and texture.
Buy Organic Almond Butter Here
Once you've made your own almond butter, you will wonder why you never tried it before, it's easy to make, delicious to eat and good for you too, there is so much to love about Almond butter, so why not give it a try, don't just take my word for it, get out the mixer and see for yourself.