Featured Ingredient: Almonds
Crammed with magnesium, vitamin E, waist-whittling fiber and monounsaturated fat, crunchy almonds have some serious nutrition firepower. More reason to grab a handful: A study published in this months Archives of Internal Medicine examined data from 25 different studies that looked at nut consumption of 583 people and its relationship to cholesterol levels. It found that eating an average of 2.4 ounces of nuts a day significantly improves cholesterol levels. This from the authors:
“Nuts are a matrix of healthy nutrients, and the most obvious reason for the cholesterol-lowering effect is their unsaturated fat content." "Nuts also contain fiber, vegetable protein, phytoesterols and other antioxidants."
Further, the skin of almonds may exert a prebiotic effect and enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, according to a recent study. Prebiotics act as a food source for good-for-you critters in your gut allowing their numbers to flourish which can improve digestion and immunity.
Although flourless cakes have a reputation for being a high-flying kitchen feat, they’re really not. And, as this recipe demonstrates, you don’t need a springform pan to pull it off. Gluten-free, packed with heart-healthy almonds and almost impossibly rich. What’s not to love? If anyone out there has a suggestion for a yummy topping to accompany these, I’d love to hear about it.
Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes
2 cups whole almonds (measure before grinding)
1 cup packed brown sugar or palm sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup canola or grapeseed oil
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional, but highly recommended)
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 12 medium sized muffin cups. Grind almonds in a food processor, spice grinder or high powered blender like the Vita-mix to a fine, mealy texture. (You could also use a spice grinder). Add the brown sugar, eggs, oil, cocoa, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, chili or cayenne and process for about 1 minute. Scrape down the side of bowl halfway through if needed. Transfer the batter to the muffin cups and bake 20 minutes or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes before unmolding.