Nuts. They pack a punch. Especially almonds do. They're easy to find, easy to store, easy to carry, and easy to love. Even Jane Brody, the ever earnest and well-meaning health and fitness columnist for the New York Times, approves of nuts as a snack and day to day food staple.
In a recent column about "wise eating" she admits that she grew up being "warned to avoid nuts because they are 'fattening.' Now I know better." She's come over to the nutty side in part because of research studies showing that "people who regularly eat nuts and nut butters in normal amounts weigh less, on average, than nut avoiders."
In recent years, perhaps in part because of the proliferation of peanut allergies in children, almond butter has become a sandwich staple, but whole almonds are also a great party favorite when fancied up with sweet or savory spices. And they're a party fave that is healthy enough for everyday.
Almonds are fatty, but their fats are the unsaturated, heart-friendly, "good" sort. And the punch that almonds pack includes more than respectable amounts of protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. As for portion sizes, Brody says "just don't go overboard."
This recipe is from the book Katie Brown Celebrates: Simple and Spectacular Parties All Year Round (find it online at Epicurious). It's super easy and tasty. We used toasted almonds instead of blanched, and, lacking sesame seeds, substituted poppy seeds (in a smaller amount).
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups whole, blanched almonds
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Heat a large sauté pan on high, and add olive oil. Add almonds to pan, toast for 1 minute stirring often, and reduce heat to low. Continue to stir until the almonds are light golden brown, 6-7 minutes. Add honey and spices, salt and sesame seeds and stir to coat evenly.
3. Spread nuts out evenly on to a large sheet tray and place in the oven until honey is dry, 10-15 minutes. Allow nuts to cool before serving.