February 16th is National Almond Day. Did you know that this nutritious snack has been popular for the past 6,000 years? Originally from Asia, 80% of the world’s almonds are now grown in California.
Packed with Vitamin E, protein, magnesium and fiber, almonds are a heart healthy food. Studies suggest that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds per day may help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Other studies have shown that people who have a diet high in almonds and other nuts reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by 2-3 times. In addition, almonds are a good source of magnesium and may help to keep blood sugar under better control. Almonds are low in carbohydrates and are packed with protein and fiber, which helps you to feel fuller for longer and can help to manage weight. A one ounce serving, or about a handful, contains 160 calories, so be mindful of your portions.
Almonds are the perfect mid-day snack. They are available in many forms, including raw, toasted, flour, oil, and even as almond milk. You can also use crushed almonds as a crust on chicken or fish, in baked goods, on top of salads, or in cereal or yogurt.
Check out this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio to learn more about the health benefits of including nuts in your diet:
Try this healthy recipe to incorporate more almonds into your diet:
Almond Crusted Orange Chicken
2 egg whites
¾ cup sliced almonds coarsely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Finely zest the orange and set the zest aside.
4. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. In a separate shallow bowl, combine orange zest, almonds, salt and pepper.
5. Put the flour on a large plate.
6. Dip the chicken breast first in the flour, then into the egg whites, and then into the almond mixture.
7. Place the chicken breast on the baking sheet and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes. Turn and bake for 6 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.