Did you know that almonds first became popular as an ancient Roman wedding gift to promote happiness and fertility? Or that their harvest was used to feed travelers on the Silk Road to China for 300 years? By the time the almond tree had arrived in California from Spain in the 1700s, these tasty nuts were already rich in history. At the turn of the 20th century, California farmers began to grow the several almond varieties that we now enjoy, and today, almond farms take up half a million acres in the Golden State. Almonds remain the largest specialty crop export for the United States due to their tastiness and versatility.
Not only do these tree nuts have an eventful history, they are also a very healthy snack. Packed with healthy fats, calcium and protein, almonds are a great way to curb your hunger and keep you going throughout the day. Raw or roasted, whole or sliced, almonds can add a tasty spin to everyday meals.
Try adding sliced almonds to your morning oatmeal or afternoon salad for a yummy crunch. Love peanut butter? Give almond butter a try. It can work on toast or as a base for salad dressing. Want to make a creamy breakfast smoothie? Replace water with almond milk for a thicker shake. You can even add almonds to your stir-fry for a pleasant new taste. Have a sweet tooth? Almonds work as a great topping for baked goods and treats. Next time you reach for almonds, remember all the possibilities this small nut has to offer!
Lizzie McManus is a first year graduate student at Drexel University pursuing her M.S. in Human Nutrition. She plans to become a registered dietitian specializing in plant-based and whole foods nutrition.
Photo Credit: Belen Rediet