Almonds & Almond Cookies

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Recently I started making my own almond milk by soaking almonds overnight and then putting the ground almonds in the blender with water, straining out the nuts and pouring the almond “milk” into a quart jar. The leftover almonds needed a home, so I made them into cooking using a gluten-free pancake mix.

They came out much better than expected and people who have tried them liked them. Someone asked me for the recipe, so I made them again, using the next batch of almonds from the almond milk. However, I suspect most of  you not making your own almond milk, so I ground almonds and soaked them in hot water for about 15 minutes before baking and the cookies came out fine. These are not very sweet or crispy, more like a soft cookie.  Someone who tried them said I should call them “breakfast cookies,” since they are more like the sweetness of a scone than a cookie.


Left: This is a stock photo of an almond tree.

Almonds are a powerhouse food. This information from http://www.nutsforalmonds.com/nutrition.html explains why:

Cancer Prevention – Almonds are low in saturated fat and contain many other protective nutrients – calcium and magnesium – for strong bones, vitamin E and compounds called phytochemicals, which may help protect against cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Phytochemical Powerhouse – Leading nutrition scientists presented their research findings in a symposium entitled “Nuts in a Healthful Diet”, as a part of the 1998 Experimental Biology annual meeting. Dr. Gary Beecher, of the USDA-ARS, has analyzed the phytochemical* content of almonds and states, “I have never seen this diversity of phytochemicals in a single food source.” (*See Glossary.)

Reduce Heart Attack Risk – A Loma Linda School of Public Health study showed those who consumed nuts five times a week had a 50% reduction in risk of heart attack.

Lower Cholesterol – In one clinical study, Dr. Gene Spiller, Director of the Health Research and Studies Center, Inc., showed that almonds added to the diet had a favorable effect on blood cholesterol levels and that none of the study groups experienced weight gain in the study.

Some nuts contain rhizveritrol, the anti-inflammatory agent found in red wines and thought to be responsible for the “French paradox”. Many scientists have pointed to the French consumption of red wine as one factor in the lower rate of heart disease despite their diets rich in cream sauces and buttery pastries. The fat in nuts is unsaturated, or the “good” fat and there is no cholesterol in these fats.

20-25 almonds (approximately one ounce) contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk, a valuable tool in preventing osteoporosis. Almonds are the best whole food source of vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, which may help prevent cancer.  One teeny ounce of almonds contains 12 percent of your daily allowance of protein. And absolutely no cholesterol, of course.                           Above: Stock photo of almonds with skins intact.

Almonds contain more magnesium than oatmeal or even spinach. Are you listening, Popeye? Build strong bones and teeth with the phosphorus in almonds. You’ll also get 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin E, that valuable antioxidant with so many cancer-fighting qualities.

And most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated, also known as the “good” fat. This little nut is also loaded with minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, as well as lots of healthy fiber. And don’t forget calcium and folic acid – they’re in there too! If you’re pregnant, or thinking about it, almonds are a great source of the folic acid you need! When you get right down to the details, it’s no wonder so may people go nuts for almonds!

 

Almond Cookies

The white cookies are made with coconut; the dark ones are made with cocoa powder. See variations below.

Utensils: Bowl, measuring spoons and cups, cookie sheets, spatulas
Prep. Time: About 15 minutes
Cook. Time: About 15 minutes
Category: Gluten & Dairy Free

Ingredients

3/4 cup of almonds, ground finely (I use a coffee mill.)
hot water to cover the almonds
1  1/2 cups gluten free pancake mix (I use three brands: Bob’s Mills, Namaste & Pamela’s)
1/2 cup softened coconut oil or whatever oil you bake with
one egg*
a tad more than 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, rice syrup (any)

Directions

1. Before doing anything, even preheating the oven to 375 degrees F., grind the almonds and soak in hot water to cover for about 15 minutes. Then drain.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place one egg and whip. Add oil and honey and mix well.
3. Next, add the gluten free pancake mix. The baking powder is already in there, so no need to add it.
4. The mixture should be thick & wet. Using a tablespoon, drop onto oiled or parchment lined cookie sheets
and bake for about 12-15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes to see if the edges are browning; if not, bale a few minutes more. The cookies will be soft to the touch.
5. Remove and allow to cool.

Yield: About 24 small cookies. If you double the amount to 2 spoonfuls, the yield will be half and you may have to bake another minute or so.
Variations: 1) For chocolate flavored almond cookies, replace 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour with 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder. Since cocoa is bitter, you may increase the sweetener to 1/2 cup and may need to add a little more flour. 2) For coconut flavored cookies, add 1/4 cup unsweetened, grated coconut. Feel free also to add raisins or other dried fruit pieces. If you used dried fruit, soak first to soften and keep sweetener at 1/4 cup, since dried fruit is super-sweet.

* I want to work on a vegan version with egg substitute. Will let you know if that works. Also, if I use raisins, maybe I can eliminate the honey and just use the water from soaking the raisins.




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