I had a little nut tree… ode to almonds

Almond blossoms

Almond tree in bloom

The nut tree in the well-known nursery rhyme bore nothing… except silver and gold that is, which, as everyone knows, taste awful.

But those who have been reading along with Vinny know that nut trees in real life bear many wondrous things, more precious than money. “What things?” you might ask. Well, each kind of nut tree bears unique gifts. Verse 1 of Vinny’s poem talks about one of them:

Vinny had a nut tree
nothing would it bear
but some creamy almonds
with E for shiny hair

Vitamin E is important for many aspects of our health, of course, not just a healthy head of hair. It boosts our ability to fight off disease and keeps skin and eyes in top working order, too. The vitamin is also a great antioxidant, disarming free radicals that attack our cells.

But hair is something we can see for ourselves. When it shines, it’s a signal that all is well inside.

For awhile, vitamin E supplements were a popular fad. But the scientific proof of their effectiveness is not yet in. It’s smarter anyway to get your vitamins from real food. That’s because real food contains lots more things than the one component we might be interested in. To work smoothly, our bodies need the whole package.

We eat the pits of the almond fruits
Almonds are the pits of the almond fruits

Almonds are one of the more popular nuts. These nuts are an excellent source of manganese and copper. These handy little minerals power our energy factories, the mitochondria, and protect them from damage. Almonds also provide riboflavin, which partners with these two minerals to produce the energy we need for all we do.

Almonds are a great source of protein, too. Just a quarter cup gives you 7 grams of protein. That’s 2 more grams than you get from a single egg. Who knew?

And here’s a bonus: Including almonds when eating foods with a high glycemic index (like rice, pasta, sugar or bread)  helps control your blood sugar. Despite their fat content, nuts help with weigh control rather than hinder it.

And wait. There’s more! Almonds offer potassium, magnesium and a generous dose of the good fats (monounsaturated ones), all of which makes for happy hearts. The science is fairly spectacular on this. Studies show a 45% reduction in heart disease when people replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats from nuts. Even more amazing, evidence from four major surveys shows that people who eat nuts 4 times a week reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by 37%.

See what I mean about nuts providing a whole package of goodies for our bodies? Almonds are among the healthiest choices when it comes to nuts, although there are other stars too. Hey, guess that means I’ll have to come up with some more verses :).

Grilled pineapple, sweetened with Greek yogurt, cinnamon &almonds

Grilled pineapple, with sweetened Greek yogurt, cinnamon & almonds

Here are a few ways almonds can make your meals and snacks yummier and more nutritious.

  • Add a punch to plain low-fat Greek yogurt by mixing in some chopped almonds, candied ginger and dried fruit. Use stevia, too, if you like it sweet.
  • Enhance a stir-fry of curried vegetables with sliced almonds.
  • Add some almond butter to a breakfast smoothy to boost its taste and protein.
  • Almonds and apple slices make a simple, on-the-go power snack.
  • Add sliced almonds to chicken salad.
  • Make a satisfying salad by dressing brown rice with almonds, fresh garden peas and currants.
  • spread almond butter on whole-wheat toast and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Next time, I’ll have a recipe for easy almond-butter cookies you can go nuts with. Until then, Happy New Years from Vinny and his family!

Related links

Where’s walnuts? – If we’re smart, walnuts will be found hiding on our plates in everything from soup to salads! That’s because they power the brain with omega-3, so vital to sharp thinking. Contains links to lots of nutty recipe ideas.

Nuts to you, Cowboy – Factoid about acorns plus easy trail mix directions.

Hazelnut tames the giant Nutella – nut nutrition plus a rich recipe for homemade nutella

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cteavin
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 03:05:01

    Nice post. Off hand, do you know if the Almond fruit (pictured) is edible?


    • Vinny Grette
      Jan 13, 2014 @ 11:56:48

      Glad you liked the post. The edible part of the almond is inside, namely the pit of the fruit. You crack it open and voila! If I’m wrong I’m sure someone will set us straight :)


  2. Felicia Kampf
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:24:51

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Real food contains so much more than the specific nutrient we like to isolate such as Vitamin E. Great post :) do you really have a nut tree!?


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