Almonds don't actually look like this when you get to eat them, of course, so that's why I chose that picture. I foolishly thought that it might throw you off the scent a little bit. But it seems we have a genuine food whiz in Iris, who once again answered the question in record time. I can see I'm going to have to try a little harder from now on.
The almond (Prunus dulcis), is a species of tree that is native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.
The fruit of the almond is not a true nut, but something called a drupe, which is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a shell (the pit, stone or pyrene) of hardened endocarp with a seed inside.
A symbol of hope and prosperity in Eastern cultures, the almond used to be known for its fat content but has now made its way to the top of power-food lists. This nutrient-dense tree nut has become best known for its many health benefits. Eating a handful of almonds a day may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and diabetes. They are also an excellent source of vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant) and manganese -- 1 ounce (that’s about 24 almonds) has 35% and 32% of the RDA respectively. And with only 1 gram of saturated fat, 13 grams of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, 6 grams of protein, and 160 calories per ounce, it's clear that almonds are a friend of any true health nut.
Here's a recipe, of course...
Roasted Curried Squash Soup with Almonds
1 large butternut squash
1 large acorn squash
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
1 whole garlic bulb
½ tsp olive oil
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted, divided
5 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
½ cup apple juice
1½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fat-free half-and-half
6 tbsp fat-free sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried chives
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Cut each squash in half, scoop out seeds, and place cut side down along with onion on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
Cut top off garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil on cut surface, wrap bulb in aluminum foil, and place on sheet with other vegetables.
Roast for about 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
Scoop flesh from both squashes and squeeze out garlic flesh from bulb, placing all in a heavy-bottom pot along with onion, ½ cup almonds, chicken broth, apple juice, and spices.
Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Using a hand or traditional blender, purée soup in batches until smooth; return to pot and add half-and-half and cook until thoroughly heated.
Serve immediately with sour cream or yogurt, remaining almonds, and a sprinkle of chives.
Makes 8 servings.
OK, what about the new food?
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