Friday, November 02, 2007

Go nuts and eat some almonds!

Oh good. Now I've got another excuse to bust out the almond biscotti. Although scientists have been touting the benefits of almonds for years, a new report in the British Journal of Nutrition sheds even more light on the weight and nutrition-related advantages of almond consumption. In the study, women were instructed to eat about two ounces of almonds each day for ten weeks, followed by their customary diet for another ten weeks. The Purdue University researchers found that not only did the women NOT gain weight during the almond phase, but they also met the daily dietary recommendations for vitamin E and magnesium content - two nutrients that most people don't adequately consume. In addition, they discovered that the fiber in almonds appeared to block some of the fat they contain - meaning they are fewer calories than expected.
"Solid data has shown that eating one to three daily portions of almonds can help lower LDL cholesterol levels," said study co-author Rick Mattes.
The FDA has previously said that almonds could help reduce the risk of heart
In a previous study, researchers found that people on an almond-rich diet lost more weight than those on a high-carb diet with the same number of calories.
Either way, it's clear that almonds are an excellent addition to the diet, containing protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and monounsaturated fat.

Here's a sucralose-sweetened dessert recipe sure to please all you chocolate-almond lovers.

Rich Chocolate Almond Cake

vegetable spray
3 eggs, separated ½ cup Splenda
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup sifted cake flour
1/8 cup dry milk powder
2 tbsp finely chopped almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Spray 8" round cake pan with cooking spray, line with wax paper, then spray with cooking spray again.
Combine flour, milk powder, salt and baking soda.
In separate bowl, beat egg yolks for about five minutes.
Add Splenda, beating longer than you would if using sugar.
Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.
Slowly stir in dry ingredients, being sure to blend well.
In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Stir 1/3 of beaten egg whites into yolk mixture.
Carefully fold remaining whites into yolk mixture. Do not overstir.
Spoon batter into pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove cake onto wire rack, peeling off paper.

Chocolate Almond Filling

1 envelope whipped topping mix (or whipped cream if not concerned with calorie count)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup Splenda
1/3 cup skim milk, cold
½ tsp almond extract

Combine topping mix, cocoa and Splenda in bowl.
Add skim milk.
Beat at high speed for four minutes or until fluffy.
Add cheese, beating until well blended.
Stir in almond extract.
Split cooled cake in half horizontally, using a long serrated knife.
Spread 2/3 of filling on top and sides of cake.
Spoon remaining filling into pastry bag with a star tip.
Pipe filling around top and bottom edges.
Sprinkle additional chopped almonds on top of cake.
Chill thoroughly and serve.

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