Today 2-16-2017 we celebrate National Almond Day, Yup its a thing, a day to celebrate all things almonds.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Centers website, ” Per person consumption of almonds in the United States has generally been increasing and reached 2.0 pounds in 2014.”  I am not surprised considering the popularity of almond products that are now available; almond milk, almond flavored cereals, bars, snacks and more.

Almonds are a staple in my pantry; whole, sliced, raw, almond butter and almond flour.  I love the delicate flavor, texture and vitality enhancing benefits of almonds.

Almonds contain about 18% protein, substantial source of cancer fighting antioxidant Vitamin E, rich in B vitamins, calcium, iron and potassium.  Almonds are also high in monounsaturated fats and calories but a little will leave you feeling full longer and keep your energy levels from dropping quickly.

Including almonds into a whole foods meal plan in moderation is a great way to add variety, new flavors and crunch into your dishes.

Nuts with all of their positive health benefits can be hard on digestion.  Pre soaking raw whole almonds for 6-8 hours or preferably overnight will help in making them easier to digest.  After soaking, drain water, rinse and rub between a clean towel to loosen and remove bitter outer skin.  Make almond milk, almond cream based sauces, dips or add seasonings and toast whole nuts for a yummy snack.  Pair a small handful of almonds with crispy apple or pear for a grab and go energy booster.  Keep a jar or soaked and peeled almond in your refrigerator for handy snacking.

If you are struggling with digestive issues it may be best to reduce the amount or eliminate nut consumption while you heal digestive issues.

Almond flour which is readily available in most groceries is a nice addition to baked goods.  I prefer the flavor and texture of almond flour without skins.

Check out my http://www.anaturalchef.com/almond-chocolate-chip-scones/#more-4530, a variation from the original recipe in my book, “Cultivating Joy in the Kitchen”.  Enjoy a slice with your afternoon tea, wrap it up to go, include it in your kids lunchbox.  Serve it warm, at room temperature or toasted.  Smear it with a little maple butter for a decadent twist.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!