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Almond advantage

Agriculture.com Staff 09/14/2008 @ 12:00pm

The almond is proof that good things come in small packages. It's got flavor, crunch, and thickening properties that turn a good recipe into a memorable one.

Not only is the almond one of the most versatile nuts in the world, but also it's good for you. High in monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol-free, almonds can help reduce cholesterol, which, in turn, reduces risk of heart disease.

They're also high in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that helps prevent accumulation of plaque in arteries.

Just 1 ounce of almonds contains about 10% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium.

According to the Almond Board of California, packaged natural almonds can be stored unopened in a cool, dark place for up to two years. Store unopened roasted almonds under the same conditions up to one year. Both last even longer if refrigerated.

Once opened, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place (preferably in the refrigerator) and use within three months. For maximum shelf life, avoid exposing nuts to humidity.

However you choose to enjoy the almond, the following recipes explore the versatility, crunch, and taste of this heart-healthy nut.

Oven: 350 degrees F.

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
Powdered sugar (optional)

Step 1: Grease an 8 1/2-inch round baking pan; set aside. In a small bowl, combine berries and brown sugar; set aside.

Step 2: In a large bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, stir together yogurt, melted margarine or butter, egg, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until blended.

Step 3: Spoon about two thirds of the batter (about 1 cup) into prepared pan. Top with the raspberry mixture. Drop remaining batter in small spoonfuls over raspberry mixture. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Step 4: Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake portion comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving: 165 calories, 4 g fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 155 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.

The almond is proof that good things come in small packages. It's got flavor, crunch, and thickening properties that turn a good recipe into a memorable one.

Start to finish: 20 minutes

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