The Awesome Almond

Almonds.

These beautiful gifts of Mother Nature might be small, but they are definitely big when it comes to their nutritional value and taste.

In honor of National Almond Day (which is celebrated February 16th) let’s discover a bit more about the awesome almond.

Almonds: The Nut That Is Not a Nut at All!

2 almonds in shellOne of the little-known facts about the almond is that they are not nuts at all. The almond is actually the seed of the fruit that grows on the almond tree.

Even more interesting is the fact that during the winter, almond trees remain dormant. But in late February, the tree bursts into color, ushering spring in with style, courtesy of its  beautiful pink and white blossoms.

Therefore, the almond is a festival for the eyes, as well as the stomach!

But be careful!

Almonds are quite high in calories, so a little goes a long way. Enjoy them in small portions.

Almonds: A History

bowl of sliced almondsAlmonds are thought to have originated in China. Explorers discovered this tasty treat when they first traveled on the Silk Road, and over time the almond tree became a common sight as far as the Mediterranean.

The almond tree was introduced into California in the mid-1700s. While it took a couple of centuries to ‘take hold,’ the California almond industry was firmly established by the 20th century.

Today there are 2.9 million tons of almonds produced each year worldwide, with 1.8 tons (62 percent) coming from the US. Although there are a handful of almond farms in many states, California is far and away the leading producer.

Almonds as a Symbol

almondsThe almond has always had symbolic meaning throughout history.

The Romans traditionally gave newlyweds almonds as gifts, believing that the nut was a fertility charm.

Even today, at some American weddings, guests receive little bags of sugared almonds which symbolize children, happiness, romance, health, and abundance.

And the Swedes make a cinnamon-flavored rice pudding at Christmas that has an almond hidden inside it. If you are the lucky one to find the almond, legend says that you will enjoy good fortune in the coming year.

Dr. ROsane Oliveira and Lentil Almond Veggie BurgersHere’s How You Can Celebrate National Almond Day

Want to have fun on National Almond Day? Here are a few ideas:

  • Try Almonds in a New Way: If you usually eat almonds plain, why not switch things up and try a recipe with almond flour or drink a glass of almond milk?
  • Host an Almond Party: Invite friends and family over for an almond-themed get-together.
  • Experiment with a New Recipe: Almonds are known for being a great snack, breakfast or dessert. How about exploring their savory side with our recipe for Lentil Almond Veggie Burgers!

However you choose to celebrate, I wish you a delicious and nutritious National Almond Day!