Monthly Archives: June 2013

Almonds are so good for you – learn all about almonds and nuts

Nuts are a great addition to any healthy eating plan. Full of healthy fats, dietary fibre, amino acids and a range of essential vitamins and minerals, nuts are some of the most nutrient dense foods, and just a small handful can give you a great range of health benefits. In fact, recent studies have suggested that adding nuts into your diet can almost half your risk of heart disease.

Each nut tree has its own unique nutritional makeup, with a range of vitamins and minerals including folate (very good for pregnant women), magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and vitamin E. Here are some of the health benefits of different nuts….

Let’s start with one of my favourites and the one I use for my Almond Tart – Almonds

All nuts contain vitamin E, but almonds are one of the richest sources. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant that helps protect against tissue damage, as well as helping to prevent LDL, cholesterol from attaching to the blood vessel walls. A small handful of almonds provides around 85% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin E. Eat with the skins-this is where many of the antioxidants are.

Hazelnuts – my second favourite!

Thanks to their outer skin, hazelnuts are a great source of dietary fibre, which helps promote a feeling of fullness and plays a role in bowel and heart health. Hazelnuts are more than 100% dietry fibre.

Macadamias

Macadamias are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats and have been found to help lower blood cholesterol. They also contain plant sterols, which are thought to contribute to the strong cholesterol-lowering effect of nuts.

Brazil nuts

These nuts are found in the seeds of huge trees found in the Amazonian rainforest, and are an excellent source of selenium, a vital mineral and antioxidant that has been shown to help prevent tissue damage. Just two Brazil nuts gives you your recommended daily intake of selenium.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fats, which can help to reduce inflammation in a similar way to the omega-3 fats found in fish. Studies have suggested that consuming small amounts of walnuts can help to increase fat oxidation and improve body fat leaves in overweight adults.

Chestnuts

Chestnuts contain very little fat, and are lower in calories than most other nuts, due to their high water content.

Adding nuts into your diet

For maximum health benefits, eat a variety of nuts and aim for a 30-50g serve most days. You can eat them on their own as a great healthy snack, or sneak them into your diet in other ways, like sprinkling them onto your stir-fry, pasta or salad, adding into muffin mixture, preparing my almond tart or tiramisu with hazelnuts, or adding on top of your fruit salad or breakfast cereal.

If you like nuts and want to share some of your recipes with us, please post your recipe and comments on my facebook page!

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Almond Tart

almond tart
A few weeks ago my little girl turned 5 and I organised for her a rainbow party with rainbow colour biscuits, rainbow lollipops biscuits, rainbow cupcakes and many other sweet treats. However for the mums I decided to bake something more enjoyable and without any food colouring at all. I baked for them my almond tart.

Surprisingly the almond tart was as successful and popular as the rainbow cake I baked for the kids. Some mums asked me for the recipe, they said it was so yummy they wanted to bake it for their own family and eat again.

Well here it is:

Ingredients for the pastry:
180g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar (or caster sugar but I personally prefer icing sugar for this pastry)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups of plain flour sifted.
30g (about 3 tbsp) ground almonds

For the filling:

175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g finely ground almonds (although I love almonds so I like to have mine nice and crunchy)
2 tsp plain flour
1 table spoon finely grated orange rind (if you don’t have orange use mandarin. I have used it a few times and it taste even better)
1/2 tsp almond extract
icing sugar to decorate
soured cream (optional) to serve.

1- To make the pastry beat the butter and the icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and egg, then slowly add the flour combined with the ground almonds and a tiny pich of salt. Bring together to form a rough dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to combine. Shape into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

2- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until 3mm or 1/8 inch thick. Use to line a greased 25cm/10 inch tart tin. Return to the refrigerator for 15 minutes, then cover the pastry case with foil and fill with dried beans or pasta. Place in a preheated oven, 220C/425F/Gas, and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the dried beans or pasta and foil and return the pastry case to the oven for 4 minutes.
Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas.

3- Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the almonds, flour, orange or mandarin rind and almond extract and beat until blended.

4- Spoon the filling into the pastry case and smooth the surface. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and the tip of the knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, then dust with sifted icing sugar. Serve with a spoonful of soured cream, if using.

5- ENJOY IT AND PLEASE POST YOUR COMMENTS!