Okay, now for a real recipe, one of the ones I promised you before I left for vacation. As a pre-diabetic struggling to keep carbs at the minimum without losing weight, I sincerely do not know what I would do if I couldn’t eat nuts. I would be lost without my handfuls of walnuts or pecans for quick snacking, or my almond flour and various nut butters for baking. Lost, utterly lost. My heart goes out to diabetics who are allergic to nuts. And since I rely on nuts so completely, this blog must be of little use to them!
I love pretty much all nuts – excepting Brazil nuts which, in my humble opinion, taste like dirt. In their various forms (nut butters, baked goods and snacks), I eat nuts at least three or four times a day. But even a diehard nut-lover such as myself can get a little tired of raw or roasted, salted nuts. To combat this nut ennui, it is tempting to make a Trader Joe’s run and stock up on their flavoured nuts, and this is what I might have done in the past. They have some lovely spice and herb combinations that enhance and complement the flavour of the nuts. Recently, however, I’ve begun to wonder why I don’t just make them at home. Surely it can’t be that hard to add a little spice to my own almonds, pecans and walnuts???
By now, most of you may be thinking “well, d’uh!”. Not only is it easy, it’s cheaper too! It’s not really that I thought I couldn’t make my own spiced and herbed nuts, but in my previous existence as a working mum with two kids, I never would have bothered. Trader Joe’s was kind enough to do it for me. Now that I stay at home with three children, I feel like I have no excuse not to do these things myself. Besides, many of the flavoured varieties have added sugar and that’s just not acceptable to me now.
My love of all things nutty has led to the discovery of a treasure-trove of recipes courtesy of the Almond Board of California. Many of their recipes are made with flour and sugar and would need a serious low carb makeover for me, but they have some wonderful snack ideas. I found two spicy almond recipes there that sounded good, but neither was ideal. One sauteed the almonds with the oil and spices and was meant to be served hot, and I wanted some almonds that I could pack in a bag for my trip. The other was a sweet and spicy kind, made with sugar. Obviously, some tinkering of these recipes was in order. I’d already thought that egg white would help the spices adhere to the nuts, and this was confirmed by the sweet and spicy recipe, so I used that as my guide, minus the sugar and with some changes to the proportions. I also roasted them at a higher heat for a shorter time to really bring out the almond flavour. I didn’t bother blanching the almonds either, since I like them with their skins and blanching and skinning almonds is a time-consuming process.
The Results: These are really good, and if you like snacks with a little kick, these are the nuts for you. The spices adhered to the almonds perfectly, and I am glad I modified the roasting temp and time, because it really brought out a roasted almond flavour. The lack of sugar was not an issue, as these didn’t really need to be sweet at all. If you really like spicy things, you could amp up the cayenne or add a dash of hot chili powder to the spice mixture. I liked these just as they were and they were a great change from my usual handful of plain nuts.
Spicy Roasted Almonds adapted from the Almond Board of California
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
2 cups whole raw almonds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 275F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg white and water until foamy. Add almonds, toss to coat, and let sit for a few minutes and then drain in a colander.
Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, combine cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
Add almonds to spice mixture and toss thoroughly to coat.
Spread almonds in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, and then increase oven temperature to 350F. Roast for 5-10 minutes or until almonds begin to brown and become fragrant.
Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.