Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vanilla Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

   Calm that snack craving, but please don't head for the chips and cookies!  Snacking is the easiest and fastest way to ruin any diet you happen to be on.  Obviously fruit is a great snack that is loaded with good-for-you things and very few calories but that can get a little old after a while no matter how much you love fruit.  As long as you make your snacks work for you and not against you, they are an essential part to a healthy lifestyle.  Little bites in between meals help prevent over eating and give you those needed boosts of energy during the day.

  Almonds are a great snack because they are crunchy, which helps alleviate stress, and good for you.  Yes, almonds have a significant amount of fat, but they are very low in saturated fat and really high in monounsaturated fat--you know, the kind of lipids that are good for your skin, hair, nails, and heart?  They are also a great source of niacin (B3) which helps lower cholesterol and vitamin E which is a strong antioxidant.  The other great thing about almonds, ladies: is that a serving size is 1/4 C which is roughly the equivalent of a handful (unless you have freakishly large hands).  Easy portioning!  Guys will probably need to measure out 1/4 C.

   I know that nuts can be a little on the expensive side, but keep an eye out for raw, bulk nuts on sale (in the produce section or top shelf in nut section).  Stock up and store them in your freezer for up to 6 months.  The last time almonds were on sale we got them $4/lb... I know, awesome.  Roasting them yourself give you creative control over the flavor and helps keep the salt and sugar in check.  I like raw sugar for roasting nuts because it gives them more crunch and is a less processed carbohydrate which means your body works a little bit harder to break it down (ie... less is converted to fat.)  These almonds aren't overly sweet, you can add a little bit more sugar if you would like, but I think there is enough sweetness in them to satisfy that mid-day sugar craving.

TIP:  If you feel, or know, you have problems controlling portion size, pre-measure your snacks into little baggies.  That way it is easy to just grab and throw in your purse or back pack.  Easy to take, healthy snacks on-the-go are great way to avoid the fast food drive through or vending machines that can bust three good days worth of eating in a single blow.

Vanilla Cinnamon Roasted Almonds
1 egg white (or equivalent amount of egg white substitute)
2 Tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 C natural almond (dry roasted without salt, or raw)
cooking spray

   Whip egg white until it reaches a medium peak stage.  When held up right it will keep its form but the tip will fold over.  Like this:
  Fold in vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and salt.  Stir in almonds.  Make sure everything is coated.  Spread out into a single layer on lightly sprayed cookie sheet.
   375 deg F for 10 minutes (350 is you know your oven runs hot).  Toss, put back in oven for 5-7 more minutes.  Allow to cool completely in a single layer!  (If you pile them together they will steam and not be as crunchy.)
   8 servings
Per Serving:  Calories 208, Fat 18 g, Dietary fiber 4 g, Protein 7.5 g;  Daily Values:  45% Vitamin E, 9% Calcium, 9% Iron, 7% Potassium, 7% Niacin
Cost: about $5 (on the expensive side, shop wisely and it will only cost about $2.50), it may be more than a bag of chips but your body will thank you!

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